June 9th 2022
Save the planet (and some dollars): 10 easy eco-friendly home design tips
With an increased focus on both affordability and sustainability worldwide, eco-friendly hacks are now top of mind for Canadian homeowners.
And it’s hitting the news, too: this week, CTV reported that experts are “seeing a growing demand for eco-friendly housing in Canada and around the world, with building standards becoming more energy efficient,” and with more home owners investing in “greener alternatives” when renovating or upgrading their existing homes.
Eco-friendly home improvements are a win-win-win: they increase your property value, lower your energy costs, and most importantly, they do some serious good for the environment.
Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you covered. Read our handy list of 10 eco-friendly home design tips to help you get started, including:
- Building materials to choose (and avoid)
- How and why to pick energy-efficient appliances, and
- Easy renovation tips to make your space even more sustainable this season.
Let's break it down.
#1. Find eco-friendly furniture
Any furniture that has a low impact on natural resources is considered sustainable. Upcycling and buying used furnishings are great ways to support eco-friendly design, and give you the opportunity to differentiate your home with unique artisanal or vintage pieces.
Tip: When buying new furniture, choose natural upholstery materials like organic wool and cotton.
#2. Pick chemical-free paint
Avoid paints marked with a VOC label— that stands for Volatile Organic Compounds. These chemicals have harmful effects on the environment, and have been linked to respiratory problems.
Tip: Not only are non-VOC paints and stains better for you and the earth, they require less coats, and the higher quality means they make your walls look that much more impressive.
#3. Choose wallpaper - (and we really mean paper)
Wallpaper these days is often made of vinyl, a plastic material that contains toxins and creates pollution when produced.
Tip: Actual paper wallpaper is not only a natural material, it’s also more breathable, and reduces the risk of mold. Seek out recycled paper options whenever possible.
#4. Lead the way with LED lighting
Swap your old light bulbs for the more energy efficient option: LEDs.
LED bulbs are more durable and have a longer lifespan than their traditional fluorescent counterparts, plus: the light they emit is brighter and far more pleasant.
Tip: Everyone does it from time-to-time, but try to break the habit of leaving your lights on when you’re not home, or think about setting a timer to ensure they eventually go dark.
#5. Add green accents
Decorate your home with the environment in mind! Choose textile fabrics made of natural materials like wool, cotton, hemp, and soy, those which may use less energy to produce.
Tip: Linen is a handy alternative to polyester (think sheets!). Not only is it unbelievably soft, but linen is a natural insulator that helps regulate your temperature—meaning a more comfortable sleep where you’re less likely to crank the heat or air conditioning.
#6. Consider flooring alternatives
Hardwood is the classic choice, but think about choosing bamboo when adding new flooring. The bamboo plant grows about 30 times faster than traditional trees like maple or oak, whose regrowth efforts can take decades.
Tip: The bamboo flooring alternative is hardly distinguishable from wood, and far more sustainable.
#7. Upgrade your appliances and thermostat
Choosing a smart thermostat like a Nest can help you better regulate the temperature of your home and lower your spend on heating and cooling.
Tip: Go for an energy-efficient appliance upgrade to lower your consumption. When shopping, look for a label indicating an Energy Star rating. High-efficiency dishwashers, washers and dryers, and even televisions and computers may cost more upfront, but the lower consumption will save you money long-term.
#8. Install an electric vehicle charger
More and more car companies are introducing electric models, which you can actually refill at home with a regular outlet, or by installing a charger.
Tip: Even if you don’t have an electric vehicle yourself (yet!) adding a charger to your garage is an eco-friendly upgrade that will increase your home value. It also encourages people in your neighbourhood to consider an alternative to gas or diesel.
#9. Make the switch to solar power
An eco-friendly renovation (like changing your home’s power source) is a big project with an even bigger payoff. For instance: installing solar panels on your roof to reduce or eliminate your reliance on fossil fuels will lower your consumption costs.
Tip: Also think small: adding solar-powered lanterns to your garden is quick eco-friendly hack that illuminates your landscaping, and your outdoor space, without sacrificing energy or excess funds..
#10. Stop the flow of hot air
Add insulation to keep the hot air inside during winter, and outside during summer. Protecting the air produced by your expensive central heating and air conditioning can save you dollars, and energy.
Tip: Check your windows, doors, fireplaces, and any other openings in your house and plug up any openings with caulking and weatherstripping. This will also lower your bills and energy consumption.
More and more, Canadians have the environment top of mind, as well as finding cost savings around rising energy prices. That’s why homeowners are on the lookout for ways to reduce their carbon footprint however they can, from major renovations, to small design choices, to the furniture they choose to use for staging their home for sale. These are all smart moves that add property value, and put a home at an advantage in an increasingly eco-conscious world.