4 ways to renovate for the environment

Featured at RENOADDICT.

We often hear about renovating for profit, but how about renovating for the environment? You may have chosen a block which doesn’t face north or have constructed your home out of brick, but that doesn’t mean there are no options for those looking to make their home more sustainable.

Housing efficiency is one of the biggest impacts we can have on the environment and a more efficient home is often kinder on your household bills. Below are my top tips for renovating to reduce your carbon footprint and your bills.

1. It’s all about energy

One of the first things to look at when considering how efficient your home is to look at your current insulation. Insulation is one of the best ways to save on cooling and heating costs and a properly insulated home could save you 50% on your power bills.

The Australian Government has produced a useful guide about insulating your home based on your home design and climate. Also look at taking advantage of this sunburnt country and all that free solar energy by installing solar panels and a solar hot water system. You can take this further by buying appliances with the maximum energy star rating.

2. Replace your windows

Consider replacing your windows with double-glazed ones with a high WERS (Window Energy Rating Scheme), this means you will lose less heat from your home.

The WERS scale ranges from zero to ten stars, at Ecoliv we use five-star WERS glass because not only is the ten-star WERS glass incredibly expensive but it is also only appropriate for high temperature industrial settings. In other words, totally inappropriate for a residential building! By choosing the five-star rating this will give you the optimal balance of cost, thermal performance and efficiency.

3. Be smart with water

Installing a water tank will reduce your reliance on the mains water and coupled with a high WELS (Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards) rated plumbing fittings will further reduce your water consumption.

When landscaping consider indigenous water saving or drought resistant plants, so that when an inevitable dry summer hits, you won’t have to worry about the lack of water to sustain them.

4. Re-paint with environmentally friendly paints

If you’re looking to repaint a room or your entire house make sure the walls are kept free from any nasties by using low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints. VOC paints are not only harmful to the environment, but to humans as well. Chemicals found in VOC paints such as Formaldehyde and Benzene, emit vapours that are harmful if inhaled. Paint with less than 250 grams of VOCs per litre are considered low VOC paints.

Even if you are only able to implement a few of these strategies, you will be able to create a more sustainable, more environmentally friendly and above all, economical home.

— Ashley Beaumont is the director of Ecoliv and is passionate about sustainability in the construction industry. His eco prefab homes achieve an eight-star energy rating and have won numerous industry awards with the BDAV, NBDA and HIA.