More people are being diagnosed with allergies and asthma and find that making environmental changes, such as reducing or eliminating harsh cleaners and other home items with toxic odors such as paint with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), can make a difference in their condition. Need a new home cleaning service? Contact these maid services. Have health issues? These medical professionals can help.
People are becoming more aware about known or probable carcinogens in building materials, such as formaldehyde in particleboard and arsenic and other chemicals in treated lumber, and are therefore choosing to avoid or replace them.
Many people are committed to supporting causes and companies that benefit the environment, and making these decisions in their homes is a natural extension of that commitment.
People want to use less energy to save money on their utility bills and/or to be responsible citizens. Contact your utility company for a home energy audit.
New, improved environmentally-sound choices are durable and can make a beautiful design statement.
What you can do
You don't have to rip out everything in your home and start over in order to make green home improvements a part of your life. Make one small change, and then add more as you go along, or commit to environmentally-sound choices if you are about to embark on a remodeling job. Consider the following areas:
- Flooring. Look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) seal for sustainably-harvested wood. Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that has soared in popularity as a beautiful flooring option. Cork flooring is made from the cork that remains after wine corks are made (and is then covered with a resin) and is a warm, soft flooring choice that is surprisingly durable. Recycled hardwoods from old houses or barns can add real character to your home. Natural fibers such as non-mothball-treated wool or jute are a great alternative to petroleum-based synthetic carpeting. Not sure? Start small with just one room or area rug and see how it works for you. Check out what these flooring specialists offer.
- Paint. Know that familiar paint smell? Not a good thing. Regular paint contains VOCs that produce a breathable gas which can reduce air quality and may cause health problems. New low or no-VOC paints have virtually no odor and cost about the same as any high-quality latex paint. Go ahead—paint that baby's room or the whole interior of your house without having to move out to get away from the smell. Put these painters on the job.
- Energy efficiency. You can make many small changes and repairs that will lower your energy use, such as changing your incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, purchasing Energy Star appliances, using natural lighting and ventilation when possible, installing water-saving plumbing fixtures, making sure you have adequate insulation, fixing leaks, sealing cracks around windows and doors, and designing additions or renovations to take into account sun exposure and other variables that can affect energy use.
If you have abundant sun exposure, you may also want to consider solar power. These electricians, plumbers and home repair and remodeling pros are at your service.
- Landscaping and paving. Environmentally-aware design of your outdoor space includes the use of native plants which require minimal additional watering, shade for energy efficiency, porous surfaces so that rain water is returned to your watershed, perhaps a rain barrel to catch rain water for watering a pesticide-free vegetable garden, and other enhancements such as a pond to encourage backyard wildlife. These landscape design and paving experts can bring your outdoor space to life.
- Sustainable wood. Low volatile organic compounds. Compact fluorescent bulbs. Home improvement buzz words like these are going mainstream as more and more people discover the benefits of green building and remodeling. Green home improvements basically include building materials, floor coverings, paints, home appliances and home accessories that have the least amount of impact on the environment and bring as few toxins into your home as possible.