Can you upgrade your home without leaving the planet looking like a fixer-upper? Whether it’s the waste that's generated, the questionable consumption (hello, new countertops!), or the drain on non-renewable resources, home improvement projects usually come with a high sticker price — and little curb appeal — for the environment. And let’s face it, despite the best efforts of the Mars crowd, we’re never going to flip the planet.
But creating a sustainable haven doesn’t have to be this way. With a touch of creativity, a splash of know-how, and a hearty dose of motivation, you can take on eco-friendly home improvement projects to revamp your living space. With younger generations seeking sustainability in their new-home purchases, it only makes sense that the popularity of eco-friendly renovations — whether it’s a refreshed kitchen or some much-needed home office space — is also on the rise. And don’t forget there are plenty of lifestyle changes you can implement around the house even before you swing a hammer — from reducing single-use plastics to choosing green-minded household cleaning products such as eco-friendly laundry detergent sheets.
So, grab your tool belt and get ready for our top 10 home renovation ideas for sustainable living.
1. Install solar panels
Here comes the sun! If you’re craving energy independence and lower utility bills, consider installing solar panels. This offers one of the best ways to generate clean energy. And don’t worry about sacrificing style for sustainability — solar panels come in an array of sleek designs and styles. With solar power on your side, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint and potentially earning credits on your energy bill. But don’t stop there either. Check out other ways the sun helps you be eco-friendly at home.
2. Set up a compost area
Tossing your kitchen scraps into the trash releases harmful methane gas into the atmosphere. So why not transform them into black gold for your garden? Say hello to composting. Set up a compost area in your backyard and watch nature’s magic unfold. Eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable peels metamorphose into nutrient-rich soil that will make your plants extra vibrant. And don’t fret if you’re tight on space — compact composters fit snugly on balconies or even in your kitchen. You’ll be turning your food waste into an Earth-friendly elixir in no time!
3. Collect rainwater
Rainwater harvesting is a great way to cut down your water bill while easily watering your plants. Not only is it practical but it can be incredibly satisfying to see the amount you’re able to collect after even just one rain shower. Install rain barrels beneath your downspouts to catch rainwater, which you can then use to hydrate your plants.
4. Use reclaimed wood
Create eco-friendly home improvements by sustainably sourcing materials. Reclaimed wood, for example, is salvaged from old barns, factories, and even discarded furniture, imbuing it with unique character. Whether you’re considering a rustic dining table, a vintage-inspired bookshelf, or accent wall panels, reclaimed wood adds warmth and charm while reducing the demand for new timber. Of course, the wood can also be sanded down and repainted, leaving little to no trace of its ‘reclaimed’ history. That means even if you’re remodeling your house with modern touches, reclaimed wood can still fit the bill.
5. Consider a green roof
When it comes to eco-friendly home improvement projects, why not elevate your green game, literally? A green roof covers the top of your house in vegetation. This insulates your abode, reduces stormwater runoff, and adds an earthy touch to your home.
6. Make your bathroom water-efficient
Updating your bathroom? Don’t just replace the fixtures — upgrade them with water efficiency. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that for the average household, showers account for roughly 17% of indoor water use, equating to almost 40 gallons per day. On the other hand, low-flow faucets and shower heads conserve water — without sacrificing pressure or comfort — while reducing your energy bills. Plus, while planning your home renovations, you’ll find a range of stylish designs available.
7. Upcycle and refurbish
You never know what you may scavenge when you do a little digging — those treasures could be your next home improvement project. Transforming old, forgotten items into stylish home decor adds a creative spark to eco-friendly home improvements. From turning vintage suitcases into trendy nightstands to repurposing wooden pallets into rustic shelves, the possibilities are as endless as your imagination. Search online and head to your local thrift store or online marketplace for inspiration. You’ll reduce waste, help mitigate the need for more mass production, and add an original touch to your home that no store-bought item can replicate.
8. Choose energy-efficient window panes
Windows don’t just add natural light and scenery to our homes — they’re also opportunities to embrace energy efficiency. Consider upgrading to windows that provide better insulation and reduce heat loss. Double or triple-pane windows with low-emissivity coatings will work wonders in keeping your home cozy in winter and cool in summer.
9. Add an herb garden to your kitchen
Get ready to stop wasting your money with store-bought herbs! This fun home improvement project can give you an aromatic herb garden right in your kitchen. Install floating shelves overtop a sunny window and adorn them with potted herbs like basil, mint, and rosemary. Adding aromatic greens to your cooking space also means fewer trips to the store, which in turn reduces plastic packaging waste.
10. Install ceiling fans
Picture this: a warm summer day, a ceiling fan gently whirling, and a comfortable room temperature without cranking the AC — that’s the magic of efficient air circulation. Ceiling fans can significantly reduce your energy usage. During warmer months, a ceiling fan can lower your energy consumption by up to 40% by providing a cool and refreshing breeze, allowing you to rely less on energy-intensive air conditioning. And don’t think fans are all about summer. During winter, reversing the fan’s direction creates an upward draft that helps circulate warm air, cutting heating costs by around 10%. Choose sustainable ceiling fans made of natural materials like reclaimed wood or bamboo. Your home will quickly look and feel more eco-friendly.
With this treasure trove of eco-friendly home improvement ideas, you can make your home feel cozier, reflecting your personal style, while also saving money and helping the environment along the way.