How to Create the Perfect Green Interior Design Renovation

Most new clients I work with do not have any idea what is involved in making a home healthy, efficient and sustainable nor do they know much about the process. They sometimes think obtaining new, beautiful, non-toxic finishes and furniture will make their home green and sustainable. This is only the glamour part of the renovation.

What a lot of people don’t realize is in order to make the inside of your home comfortable, efficient and non-toxic, your home must first be in good physical shape.  Your home is just like your body.  It needs to have a physical check-up too, confirming that it is healthy and functioning efficiently.

The first thing you need to do before starting your green home renovation is to have an energy audit performed.  A trained auditor will be able to point out where your home is wasting energy, including air leaks and inefficient appliances. Some utility companies will share this cost with homeowners. Rating systems like LEED, Green Star, and Energy Star require this type of professional evaluation.

After an energy audit is accomplished, it is important to create a master plan for your renovation, making sure to start with the inexpensive and easiest retrofits first, such as replacing incandescent light bulbs.  Lighting accounts for about 12 per cent of energy used in the average American home. Replacing all the old bulbs with LED or CFL bulbs saves about $6 per bulb per year, just in energy costs.

Maintenance. Some maintenance procedures can be done immediately, independent of your green renovation. For example, upgrading the lighting fixtures and appliances, and air sealing can usually be done any time as well. Whenever possible, it makes sense to look at the entire home as a group of systems and decide how to cut energy use.

Air Leaks. Have all air leaks sealed according to the energy audit by using caulk, canned spray foam, and weather stripping. Seal air leaks from ceiling light fixtures and access panels into the attic, around the foundation and mudsill, and around pipes penetrating the walls.

Seal Ductwork In Unconditioned Spaces. According to Energy Star, 20 per cent of the air in the typical home’s duct system leaks out through holes, leaks, and poorly connected ducts. This is a major problem if the ducts are located outside the conditioned area of the home. After sealing leaks, insulate the ductwork.

Incorporate Storm Windows.  New windows might take years to return the investment in efficiency, but simple storm windows offer most of the same energy-efficiency benefits. Although, new windows do have other advantages, such as improved functionality and appearance.

Attic Insulation.   Depending on the home’s attic, this could be simple or difficult. It’s not very expensive, and is one of the major areas for energy savings. Energy Star specifies R-30 to R-60 for attics, depending on location.

Replace Water Heaters.  Water heating consumes about 14 per cent of a home’s energy. The newer and more efficient models will save energy, especially the high-efficiency tankless water heaters. Replace heating and cooling equipment. Heating and cooling claim more than 40 per cent of the energy used in the average home. If the home has a 25-year-old furnace that’s rated as 68 per cent efficient, a you can save $27 per $100 of existing heat cost by replacing it with a new 90 per cent efficient model, also after air sealing and insulating, smaller heating and cooling equipment may be sufficient.

Replace Appliances.  Today’s refrigerators use only 25 per cent as much energy as older models, which is important, as they’re always running. Other appliances have less of an impact on overall energy use, as they don’t consume much energy when not in use.

Don’t Forget To Plant Trees.  One effective energy-efficiency improvement that’s often passed over is the cooling effects of trees. Trees correctly placed around a home can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20–50 percent in energy used for heating. Planting trees on the home’s west side will provide more effective shade than planting on the south side in the northern hemisphere or north side in the southern hemisphere.

By incorporating all of the above measures, you will drastically cut the amount of electricity your home requires, making it friendlier to solar power use.  These measures will provide you with a home that is in good physical shape and will make your green interior design renovation worthy of the investment.

We can help you create a perfect green and sustainable interior design renovation for your home. To learn more about our range of Sustainable Interior Design, Universal Design and Consulting services available in Connecticut, New York and areas beyond contact us at 203.984.4695 or email us at site@lynnhoffmandesign.com.

Lynn Hoffman

203.984.4695 | lynn@lynnhoffmandesign.com