Going green with home remodels

A look at ways to 'green' your home, from materials to appliances.

With the rising cost of heating and cooling, plus growing concern about the environment, “green” is definitely the new direction in home building and renovation. An added benefit of earth-friendly remodeling is that it helps protect the health of your family by reducing the pollutants and allergens within the home.

Tips for a green home, saving you $$:

• Maximize natural light by using skylights and well-placed mirrors to reflect natural light and help reduce lighting costs. Replacing old light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs can trim 5 percent from monthly electrical bills.

• Use reclaimed or sustainably harvested materials, such as bamboo or cork whenever possible, and avoid wood composites that contain glue or formaldehyde. Better yet, opt for hardwood floors over carpet, which can emit harmful chemicals and harbor mold. If using carpets, tack them down instead of gluing them to reduce toxic emissions. We recommend using 100 percent wool as a natural alternative. Use more efficient insulation made from less-toxic materials that are formaldehyde-free and consist mostly of recycled newsprint, cotton (old jeans), wool or glass.

• Try to buy materials produced within a 500-mile radius of your home to minimize the use of fuel for transportation.

• Install energy-efficient furnaces and appliances. Statistics show that if one household in 10 bought Energy Star-rated heating and cooling equipment, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by Energy the same amount as taking 1.5 million cars off the road! And you may be eligible for a rebate from Puget Sound Energy; see www.pse.com.

• Choose paints low in volatile organic compounds instead of latex-based enamel. Pro-green roofing alternatives include rubber and plastic or vinyl and cellulose fiber.

• To conserve water, install low-flow toilets and showerheads. The newer models are much more efficient. If you are redoing landscaping, consider reducing the size of your lawn, or install drought-tolerant turf grasses and plants that require less mowing and water. Switch to organic fertilizers.

Recent changes in our Northwest Multiple Listing service now allow us to search for homes that are Built Green, Energy Star or LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certified.

Contact Tracy Corriveau and Kim Poole at Windermere in Kingston, (360) 297-2661.