Improving homes with ‘green’ ideas

Home improvement enthusiasts increasingly are making environmentally friendly, also known as “green,” choices.

Pella Windows & Doors, the 2007 Energy Star Partner of the Year for windows, offers eight home improvement ideas that will make a residence more friendly to the environment:

1. Consider replacing worn out carpet or laminate flooring with bamboo floors. Bamboo, which is actually a grass that gets pressed into flooring, is a renewable source and a highly durable material well-suited for kitchens and other heavy traffic areas of the home.

2. Improve indoor air quality, reduce noise and save energy by replacing old windows with triple-pane wood windows that feature the blind or shade protected between panes of glass. Pella triple-pane windows and patio doors with shades between the glass are rated high for energy efficiency among top national brands and are proven to help reduce exposure to certain indoor air allergens, according to ongoing research by the University of Iowa’s Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.

3. Switch out electronics to green products with items like Energy Star-approved ceiling fans to circulate heat and air conditioning, programmable thermostats and motion sensor light switches.

4. Adding a new room? Add new windows in key locations for an important green technique — daylighting. Windows allow for natural daylighting which reduces or eliminates the need for artificial lighting, saving on energy costs. Choose low-emittance glass to help keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and to help protect interior furnishings from fading. Strategic placement of windows and shades helps maximize daylighting and minimize heat gain.

5. Replace old countertops with eco-friendly brands made of recycled paper and resin or those made from recycled glass and concrete.

6. Add a storm door. A new storm door will improve the look of a home’s entry and create improved airflow in the spring and summer months. Plus, adding a storm door may help save on energy costs.

7. Grow your own garden for a natural outdoor kitchen. Living off the land is a great way to add fresh food to your diet and help the environment by cutting transportation costs. Plan now the best layout and planting time for your soil to grow your own food for the summer. Then do your own canning or freezing to preserve the bounty. If you’re not into gardening, consider shopping at local farmer’s markets as an eco-friendly food option.

8. For a room makeover, consider furniture with reclaimed materials. Look for furniture designed with wood reclaimed from old houses, furniture or previously built items.

The Energy Star program was developed by home builders in cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Homes that conserve energy save consumers on power bills while also protecting the environment.

Saving energy is always environmentally friendly because less power consumption means utility companies burn less coal at generating stations, producing fewer greenhouse gases.

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