More and more, folks are looking for simple and conscientious solutions to the planetary problems we face, while at the same time wanting to live in a home that is convenient and cozy. If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly home design you don’t have to read design magazines, hire a prestigious designer, or win a home makeover. There are numerous quick, easy, and economical eco-friendly design options that virtually anyone can use.
#1 Passive solar. The sun has amazing capabilities to warm our homes. Take advantage of the sun’s solar rays in the fall and winter and open windows and drapes. Ideally, you’ll have an abundance of natural light on the side of your home facing the south. You can even add windows if you want to and in take advantage of the eastern and western-facing windows in the meantime.
#2 Thermal blackout curtains. I LOVE these! When we moved into our first place it had no curtains, just dirty plastic blinds that didn’t keep much light out. We took them out and put up heavy thermal curtains that promised to decrease heating and cooling bills by 20%. They are nice looking and they block out ALL the light. I don’t like the fact that they are polyester but they do help us reduce energy usage each and every month and the earthy colors will always be in style. In the winter they will remain open when it is sunny but when it is dark and cloudy they will serve as an extra layer of insulation from the cold.
#3 Add plants to your home to purify the air you and your family breathe. They are inexpensive, they add charm, and they will go to work for you. Spider plants are ideal for cleaning your air, but any plant serves as a great filter. Some plants actually removes toxins from the air, like formaldehyde. Other good plants include the Areca Palm, Mother-in-Law’s Tongue, and the Money Plant. Indoor plants always make me feel at home because my mother always had tons of indoor plants. She had spider plants and climbing plants that climbed all over our interior walls.
#4 Use low VOC or VOC free paints. These are paints that have little or no toxic emissions. Lowering your exposure to these chemicals will not only help your health, it’ll also help the environment. They are not hard to find anymore and they are not very expensive when you consider what you get.
#5 Replace your old thermostat with a programmable thermostat and lower your utility bills, while at the same time making your life a bit easier. Programmable thermostats enable you to set it and forget about it.
#6 Attach low-flow faucets or aerators into your kitchen and bathroom to reduce the amount of water you consume. You’ll lower your water bills and conserve water.
#7 Utilize restored or used furniture. There’s just something beautiful about giving new life to something old. And you can buy reclaimed or restored pieces for much less than you can buy the same quality pieces for new. A little extra money in your pocket, beautiful furniture and sustainable practices. I was THRILLED this weekend to find two wooden chairs for our dining table at a yard sale. They were $1 and $3 respectively. Who can beat that?!
#8 Green Decor – Make it yourself, buy it used, or perhaps buy it from a small eco friendly vendor on Esty.com. I find one of the cheapest ways to get GREAT wall art is to buy prints on Etsy or take my own photograghs. A picture of a flower in my backyard is wall worthy with a little editing. Then I can buy prints from Flickr and put it in old frame. This is one I shot a couple weeks ago.
#9 Invest in organic bedding. 100% organic cotton is a luxury but when you consider how much time we spend in bed breathing in the byproducts of our surroundings… well it starts to look like an investment in our health and not a splurge.
#10 Replace carpet with sustainable flooring like bamboo or cork. These are both environmentally sound flooring choices that are totally gorgeous at the same time. They’re also economical and easy to maintain. Carpet has all kinds of nasty things in it and it collects nasty things for years to come.. dirt, allergens, mold, etc. Whenever possible get rid of it!
You see… no need to be designer to do a bit of green remodeling. What easy green design tips do you have to share?