A Room-by-Room Guide to Eco-Friendly Home Modifications and Renovations

Posted by Ryan Fitzgerald on Sunday, April 24th, 2022 at 8:35am.

Sustainable Renovations for Every Room

Whether you buy an older home or a new construction home, there are most likely modifications and renovations you can do to make your new house more eco-friendly. If you are looking to spend less money on your energy bill each month, are looking to downsize your home to live more efficiently, want to reduce your environmental impact, or you want to increase the value of your home before you get it appraised for a new sales listing, there have never been more reasons to pursue sustainability than there are right now.

Overhead view of an eco-friendly bedroom featuring natural light, plants, and recycled or low-waste furnishing.

Where do you even start, though? While this process might seem overwhelming when you look at it as a whole, by breaking it down room-by-room throughout your house, you can guarantee it will be a much less daunting prospect. 

Room-by-Room Recommendations

If you are just starting to consider making eco-friendly modifications or renovations to your home, then you might find yourself feeling lost knowing where to even start. You have a variety of rooms in the house to choose from, then further options to choose from within each room. 

Let’s take a room-by-room look at potential eco-friendly modifications and renovations you can make to your home. 

Kitchen

Here are some of the major home modifications and renovations you can do to make your kitchen more eco-friendly.

  1. Install energy-efficient lighting: This is one great way you can improve your kitchen while also increasing its sustainability. The most energy-efficient lighting available to you is natural lighting, so making renovations that increase natural light will make the largest difference possible. However, even just making the switch to LED bulbs is a great low-cost change you can make while greatly improving how eco-friendly your kitchen is. 

  2. Install energy-efficient windows: Installing large windows that allow for more natural light in your kitchen is not only a great way to improve the overall look of your kitchen, but also offers a great opportunity to improve the sustainability of your kitchen. By installing Energy Star windows you can greatly decrease the amount of heat and air conditioning lost through them, decreasing your energy bill by an average of 12%

  3. Install energy-efficient appliances: Replacing old kitchen appliances with new energy-efficient models is the most impactful eco-friendly renovation you can make to your entire home. Kitchen appliances are typically responsible for around 10% or more of your home’s cumulative energy consumption.

Here are some of the ways replacing various older kitchen appliances with newer energy-efficient ones will help make your home more eco-friendly.

Freezer and Refrigerator: 

Dishwasher: 

Oven and Stovetop: 

  • While there is no Energy Star label for residential ovens or stovetops, modern induction range tops and convection ovens perform better than gas ones do. 

  • Convection ovens typically use around 20% less energy than gas ovens.

  • Self-cleaning ovens have increased efficiency due to being insulated, allowing for less heat to escape.

Besides replacing your appliances, another great way to make your home more eco-friendly is by reducing waste. Here are some of the best ways to do that.

  • Compost bucket: Adding a countertop compost bin to your kitchen is an easy and great way to reduce food waste, reducing your environmental impact in the kitchen. 

  • Install new faucets and aerators: Installing water-efficient faucets and aerators can reduce water flow greatly while maintaining water pressure. 

While your kitchen is likely the biggest opportunity for eco-friendly modifications and renovations in your home, there are plenty of opportunities in other rooms as well. 

Kitchen renovations with new paint, cabinets, countertops and flooring

Bathroom

Here are some of the major home modifications and renovations you can do to make your bathroom more eco-friendly.

  1. Install water-efficient fixtures: Inefficient use of water is most likely the largest source of eco-waste in your bathroom. You can greatly reduce this waste by installing water-efficient fixtures for your shower, bath, and sink. 

  2. Install energy-efficient lighting: Bathrooms frequently have brighter lighting than other rooms of the house. In the past, homeowners often achieved this by installing more lighting fixtures, which adds up quickly if you’re using inefficient lightbulbs. By installing energy-efficient fixtures and using newer energy-efficient bulbs, you can greatly reduce electricity usage, however. 

  3. Install an energy-efficient water heater: By installing a newer energy-efficient water heater in your home, you’ll greatly improve how eco-friendly your bathroom is, since heating water is one of the largest energy consumers in the bathroom. 

  4. Choose sustainable floor and wall covering materials: Replacing outdated flooring and wall coverings is one of the best ways to bring new life to a bathroom. If you do this, make sure that the material you choose is sustainably sourced. 

Laundry Room

Here are some of the major home modifications and renovations you can do to make your laundry room more eco-friendly.

  1. Install an energy-efficient washer and dryer: Upgrading an old washer and dryer is not only one of the best improvements you can make to your home in terms of your quality of life. It is also the biggest eco-friendly renovation you can make in your laundry room because it reduces both water and energy use for each load of laundry. 

  2. Install a clothesline or drying rack and hang-dry when possible: By hanging your laundry out to dry whenever possible, you will greatly reduce the amount of energy spent by running the dryer for every load. If your laundry room does not have the space for a clothesline or drying rack to be permanent fixtures, then fortunately there are many collapsible or retractable solutions for either option. 

  3. Switch to environmentally friendly detergent: Switching to green detergents made from biodegradable, phosphate-free, and/or plant-based ingredients will dramatically lower your environmental impact by not releasing environmentally harmful chemicals and other ingredients into aquatic environments. 

Living Areas

Here are some of the major home modifications and renovations you can do to make your home’s living areas more eco-friendly. 

  1. Install energy-efficient blinds and curtains: Installing energy-efficient blinds and curtains will reduce the energy you use to heat and cool your home. You’ll reduce the amount of hot and cold air escaping through the windows, and the temperature inside your home will be impacted less by direct sunlight and temperatures outside. 

  2. Install energy-efficient windows: As we discussed above, replacing old windows will positively impact your ability to temperature-control your home and use less energy to heat and cool the rooms of your house. 

  3. Recycle furniture: When renovating your home, consider recycling your unwanted furniture instead of throwing it away to reduce waste and keep these items out of landfills. 

  4. Upgrade to a smart thermostat: A smart thermostat is a great way to reduce the energy you use to heat and cool your home. 

A smart thermostat is a great eco-friendly home modification that saves on energy and is cost-efficient.

Going Green? Where To Start and General Advice

Choosing to go green with your home modifications and renovations is no doubt a big decision. However, it will pay off almost immediately as well as over a longer period. 

Location

Before you jump right into making eco-friendly home renovations and modifications, you might need to consider where you live and how long you plan on staying there. Home renovations are incredibly rewarding once they are completed but are also quite often expensive, time-consuming, and can upset your daily life while they are ongoing. Therefore, it’s best to renovate when you’re certain you are living somewhere that is right for you.

If you think that a change of scenery might be the right choice for you, however, then you can factor that decision into how you approach making eco-friendly renovations or modifications to your home. For instance, moving to an affordable city like Raleigh, NC can not only offer you a greater variety of affordable neighborhoods to live in, but also means that your budget for making eco-friendly home modifications and renovations can be greater than if you lived in a more expensive city. 

Evaluating Your Home’s Energy Efficiency

To know what renovations or modifications you should make to your home, you need to first understand which areas will benefit most from improvement. A great way to identify any energy inefficiencies you have in your home is by conducting an energy audit. An energy audit is an inspection of your house conducted by an energy auditor in your local area who analyzes how energy is used and flows throughout your home. Then, they identify areas of inefficiency. 

Renewable Energy

To make your home more eco-friendly, you might consider converting to alternative energy sources such as solar, geothermal, and wind. While these options will make a huge impact, they are also much more complicated than most home renovation projects and vary greatly depending on where you live. 

Incentives for Eco-Friendly Home Renovations

Depending on where you live, there might be tax incentives or grants available to you for making your home more eco-friendly. Considering the price tag of many of these renovations and modifications, it’s important to check on the availability of any incentive or grant programs that could help you offset the initial cost. 

You can check for policies and incentives where you live through the DSIRE database by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University.


Ryan Fitzgerald Raleigh RealtyHi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for building businesses, working out, inspiring others, technology, sports, and people. Connect with me on Facebook and Instagram!

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