10 Ways to Reduce Your Eco-Footprint While Renovating

ECOS 04/17/2024

When you first move into any place, there’s always that list in your head: “I’m going to do this and this, and make this, and my house is going to be the greatest!” And then you unpack your life, and inevitably, pack up your renovation list for a rainy day. Well, today is that rainy day! If you don’t have a list, fear not -- we've supplied one below that covers the basic things you can do to reduce your eco-footprint while renovating and also save some money!

1. Install a Smart Thermostat: A ‘Smart Thermostat’ is well...smart! It monitors your activity and adjusts your home temperature based on your movement to save energy (and money). USA Today has a good write-up reviewing the different smart thermostats on the market today. Skill level: Easy

2. Replace Old Lighting: Fluorescent lighting has come a long way in the past several decades, but LED lighting is catching on fast. Either way, today’s energy-efficient lighting options offer superior designs and excellent color renderings for any room. Check out NPR’s article on how to pick a light bulb.  Skill level: Easy

3. Paint Safer: You can breathe new life into any room with a fresh coat of paint. We hope though that ‘life’ is the only thing you’re breathing when painting as most paint off-gasses VOCs and contain an array of harmful chemicals. Choose a zero-VOC* and non-toxic** brand of paint, like ECOS Paints, to better your health and the environment. Order ECOS Paints free sample cards to get going. Skill level: Easy

4. Replace Old Equipment: If it’s time to upgrade new appliances, consider choosing an Energy Star appliance, which offers advanced technology to help you save money and protect our climate. They offer a nifty product finder, and practically any appliance that is energy star rated will clearly and visibly tell you so. Skill level: Easy

5. Landscape for Your Region: Most lawns require heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides, in addition to water and regular mowing. However there are alternative turf grasses that are low maintenance and chosen specifically for your region. This Old House has an article on what to choose for your area. If you’re able to resist the urge to have grass, there are many landscaping practices that are beautiful and environmentally responsible. Skill level: Easy

6. Install Ceiling Fans: Ceiling fans are an inexpensive way to cool a home and help people feel comfortable at higher air temperatures. Energy Star offers a basic guide to get you started. Skill level: Moderate

7. Swap Carpet for Hard Floor: Super tough and super easy to clean, renovating to a hard surface floor such as finished concrete, tile, terrazzo, and resilient floor tiles reduces floor material use. Try to choose low-toxic glues, grouts, and grout sealers for the installation and consider a floor that uses pre- and post consumer recycled content. Also, check out your FloorScore. Skill level: Moderate

8. Install Rainwater Collection System: This is really a no-brainer, particularly for areas that are prone to drought. Collection systems range from a rain barrel positioned strategically to water outside to a filtration and purification system so that water can be used indoors, even for drinking. Mother Earth News has a step by step guide for installing one. Skill level: Moderate

9. Install Water Filtration System: Reducing the likelihood of buying bottled water, installing an undersink water filter removes contaminants from tap water and improve taste. There are different options based on your need and include reverse-osmosis, ultraviolet (UV) treatment and activated carbon or specialized-media filters. If you can follow this YouTube video, you can be up and in no time! Skill level: Moderate

10. Move to Solar Energy: We’ll be honest with you - this is a big renovation both in terms of cost and impact. When the time is right, assess the potential for solar energy features, including passive-solar heating, daylighting, solar water heating, and photovoltaic (PV) power production. This will probably require a professional. The Solar for Milwaukee series is a good place to start if you’re new to solar energy. Skill level: Advanced Have you already tackled anything on this list? Let us know in the comments what you've done to reduce your eco-footprint while renovating!

*Conforms to CDPH 01350 (VOC emissions test taken at 11, 12, & 14 days for classroom and office use). Learn more about VOCs and our commitment to healthier paints here.

**Conforms to ASTMD-4236, specifically concerning oral toxicity, skin irritation and respiratory effects.