How to Give Your House an Annual Checkup

annual home checkups(BPT) – There’s no better time than now to give your home the attention it deserves. Give it an annual checkup before cold weather arrives to help add comfort, save energy and cut home maintenance in the long-run.

When inspecting your home’s windows and doors, here’s what to check:

Inspect interior and exterior finishes: Over time, paint and stain can weather away. Flaking or peeling may mean that it’s time to refinish or replace the unit. When replacing windows or doors, consider factory prefinished wood or fiberglass options from Pella, or vinyl options that don’t need painting or staining, to save time and money.

Look for damaged exterior surfaces or signs of leaks: Check your sprinkler system to make sure it’s watering your lawn and landscape, not soaking your windows or doors. Cracked or deteriorated wood may be a sign of water penetration. Leaks can linger and affect interior walls, floors or ceilings, so look closely for discoloration or other moisture signs.

If you spot a problem, track its trail. For example, discolored trim around a window might actually be caused by moisture entering a ways away. With a leaky roof, water may run down inside the wall and appear at the window. Contact a professional for help in making home repairs.

Clear windowsills and tracks of dirt and debris: Sand, leaves, insects or pine needles stuck in weather-stripping can affect the performance of your windows and doors. Open the windows and clean the opening with a soft brush, like a dry paint brush or vacuum attachment. Do the same for sliding patio doors.

Try opening and closing: Open your windows and doors to make sure moving parts work, and units close properly. Replace worn or broken parts.

Inspect weather-stripping: Re-attach loose weather-stripping around windows or doors, and replace material that’s ripped or torn.

columnsReplace or repair broken locks: If locks feel loose or don’t work smoothly, replace them. Keep windows and doors locked when not in use. Locks help hold doors and windows tightly, to lock out rain, wind, snow and insects.

Inspect weep and breather holes: Weep holes in the exterior of windows, allow excess moisture to escape, while breather holes allow air exchange within certain components. Clear blocked holes of dirt or debris with a wire or toothpick.

Check exterior sealants and caulk on and around windows and doors. Pay attention to areas susceptible to rain, water and extreme sunlight. Remove damaged material and reapply sealant.

In coastal locations, rinse exterior metal like exterior aluminum trim or cladding: Rinsing exterior metal parts three or four times a year can help extend the life of your windows and doors by minimizing corrosion from salt spray or fog.

Feel for signs of air leakage around the window or door: Improperly installed windows or doors can be drafty, decrease energy efficiency, and allow unwanted moisture into your home. To help save on utility bills and keep your home more comfortable year-round, replace drafty old, leaky windows with new, ENERGY STAR-qualified Pella windows installed properly.

Visit Pella Windows and Doors on Pinterest for design inspiration or Pella.com/news to connect with a Pella representative for tips on caring for your windows and doors, or choosing new replacements.

 

Enhance Your Home’s Curb Appeal with Trim

curb appeal(BPT) – Curb appeal relies not just on the color of a home’s siding or the beauty of its landscaping, but on often-overlooked, underplayed details. Whether it’s charming intricate gingerbread scrolls on the porch, or fluted door casing that imparts an elegant, upscale look, trim can have a strong impact on a home’s curb appeal.

“Trim adds that final touch to a home. For historical or traditional designs, trim can be machined into ornate profiles. For a contemporary look, thicker trim, such as 1-inch thick trim, can add depth to a home with the reveal’s shadow,” says Peggie Bolan, vice president, building products, for JELD-WEN, Inc.

While wood has long been a popular material for trim applications, it’s no longer the only option. Wood composite trim, such as MiraTEC Treated Exterior Composite Trim, delivers flexibility and durability. Designed for outdoor use, MiraTEC trim offers a wood grain texture on one side and is smooth on the other. It resists moisture, rot and termites. Made in the USA from renewable materials, MiraTEC has been on the market since 1999 and offers a 50-year warranty.

If you’re looking to boost your home’s curb appeal, here are a handful of trim projects that can create a whole new look the exterior of your home.

Add architectural detail to your porch – One of the most eye-catching ways to dress up a home’s facade is to incorporate architectural detail into a porch, such as the intricate gingerbread scrolls often seen on the porches of Victorian-style homes. Trim can also be used to create column wraps that transform a utilitarian porch post into a design statement.

Make your windows stand out – While windows bring light into your home, window trim brings character to the outside of your home. Adding wider trim to a window creates a reveal that adds depth. Trim can be also machined into moldings, medallion and other architectural details to add a sophisticated look.

Update the look of your front door – The front door is a significant design element of your home’s facade and the one that helps visitors visually transition from the exterior design to the interior decor. Door casing can be simple and traditional, or you can create a bolder, more dramatic look by adding fluted vertical trim and decorative molding on top of the doorway.

To learn more about trim, how it impacts your home’s curb appeal and MiraTEC products, visit www.miratectrim.com.

 

Budget Kitchen Makeover

counter(BPT) – Kitchen makeover: 3 simple tips for beauty on a budget

If you’re tired of looking at your outdated kitchen, but feel replacement would be impractical, you’re not alone. In 2014, consumers will be trying to find solutions they can afford to do themselves. Check out these three DIY remodeling trends for simple and unique ways to refresh the most used rooms in the home.

1. Mini-makeover kits

You may be the type who prefers to opt out when it comes to getting your hands dirty. If so, you will be pleased to know that as the DIY or the “do-it-yourself” movement grows, so are the increasingly easy product/project solutions.

Many larger retailers have caught on to this home DIY trend and have begun stocking mini-makeover kits. Each kit is designed for a specific project with simple application tools.

Among the hottest right now: kits that include everything you need for countertop, cabinet or appliance refinishing. The new Giani Granite countertop kit covers all typical existing counter surfaces and transforms your laminate or composite material into the look of natural granite. These kits stress the ease of application as “being easy enough for anyone.”

Nuvo Cabinet refinishing kits are designed for the DIYer who is looking for an easy makeover project. They do not require pre-priming, sanding or even removing the cabinet doors. So before you hire a contractor, check out the mini-makeover movement because remodeling may now be simple enough for even the most DIY challenged.

2. Upcycling

Upcycling is the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful. For example: using slices of used corks to create a cork mosaic backsplash. Home decor artist Nicole Fleming agrees, “There seems to be something more genuine about the story and pride each repurposing project provides compared to owning something that has been mass manufactured.”

Upcycling also makes a positive impact on the environment. When you upcycle, you remove items from the global garbage print. Some avid upcyclers even argue thatkit repurposing instead of recycling can actually be more beneficial because recycling requires energy or water to break down materials, while upcycling only requires your own resourceful creativity. So instead of throwing out your junk try the smart alternative of upcycling by turning your throw aways into something genuinely sensational.

3. Pin-spiration

Many homeowners wanting to spruce up their kitchen, struggle with knowing where to begin. When looking for kitchen design inspiration, start your project online. Turn to popular social networking sites that focus on sharing innovative ideas. Among the hottest right now is Pinterest, whose focus provides tips on everything from small decor crafts to full room renovations. Pinterest also allows you to engage with other users and discuss projects, helping to work out any remodeling hurdles.

Large hardware companies like Home Depot and Lowes – as well as the remodeling HGTV Network have caught on to this useful online plethora of tips. They understand why one single place to get millions of ideas and tutorials on home projects holds such importance.

Before you decide a kitchen refresh is too difficult or impractical, check out these three popular trends and begin making what you have, look like a million bucks.

Energy Efficient Home Upgrades

energy saverSave green indoors and out with energy-efficient home upgrades

(BPT) – Spring is the perfect time to think green. For some it’s spurred by the coming of Earth Day, others the renewed greening of our lawns. And many are motivated by the desire to save a little green in their wallets with a fresh new season of home repairs. If you’re one of these people, you can help save some green for the planet, as well as your hard-earned cash, by making energy efficient upgrades throughout your home.

Helping the world stay green gained traction with the first Earth Day held March 22, 1970, as declared by Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. As a nation, much has been accomplished with the environmental movement, yet there are also easy things you can do at home to “go green” and save money at the same time. Here are some tips for home energy efficiency upgrades indoors and out.

* Cool efficiently: When it comes to home energy bills, heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of the average home’s utility costs, according to energy.gov. Get ready for the hottest days of summer by tuning up your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system so it’s operating efficiently. Change your HVAC filters regularly. In addition, if your cooling system is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with one that has a Seasonal Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 20.00 for better savings. Trane’s XL20i, for example, can mean a savings of up to 60 percent on your annual cooling costs – that’s cool cash in your pocket.

* Programmable temperature controls: A programmable HVAC control can reduce energy consumption by up to 15 percent compared to traditional nonprogrammable thermostats. Today’s HVAC control systems, like the Trane ComfortLink II Control, now monitor indoor and outdoor temperatures, plus home energy use over time, to help you manage energy and comfort even further.

* Conserve water: Remember, water isn’t free. Indoors, lower water bills by installing low-flow water fixtures including toilets, showerheads and faucets. Outdoors, add a water-saving spigot for the garden hose. To avoid water evaporation, water your plants early or late in the day, and when your green lawn starts to grow, don’t mow too low. If you have lawn sprinklers, double check that they are set to water grass and shrubbery instead of the driveway or sidewalk. Rather than hose down your deck to clean it, save water by sweeping instead.

* Lighting: About 10 percent of the energy your home uses goes to lighting costs, according to energy.gov – in fact, by just replacing five of your home’s most frequently used lights with energy efficient ENERGY STAR bulbs, you could save $75 a year in energy costs. Compared with traditional incandescent bulbs, compact fluorescents can yield as much as 75 percent energy savings and last six times longer. You can save even more energy and wasted heat by switching to LEDs. Outdoor lights using CFLs or LEDS save energy, too, so look for ENERGY STAR qualified fixtures designed for outdoor use.

By taking these steps, you can help make the world a little greener, keep your home a little greener, and save even more green where it really hits home – in your wallet.

 

Invest in Your Home with a Wood Deck

deck(BPT) - A wood deck is one of the best investments a homeowner can make.

As the seasons turn, more homeowners look for projects that not only make their homes more livable, but also offer great return on investment. With demand high across the country for outdoor spaces that bring the comforts of the indoors outside, there’s no surprise that decks are one of the top remodeling projects for 2014.

In fact, a residential wood deck addition has a recouped cost of 87.4 percent, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value Report, the second highest ROI midrange project only behind an entry door replacement. That means adding a deck to your property will increase your livable space so you can enjoy the outdoors more, and you can rest easy knowing you’re boosting the value of your home investment.

If you think you’d like to add a wood deck to your home, you might wonder about the different material options. “Although composite and PVC decking have gained popularity in recent years, pressure-treated wood decking still carries the lion’s share of the market because it’s inexpensive, easy to work with and can be found at any lumberyard,” says Chris Fox, product manager at Universal Forest Products, a leading supplier of lumber and decking materials.

Today’s pressure-treated lumber comes with advancements that weren’t available to homeowners just a few years ago. For example, with more homeowners seeking eco-friendly building materials, wood suppliers are exploring environmentally preferred treatment methods. For example, ProWood’s micronized copper azole (MCA) treated lumber decking is eco-friendly, cost effective and easy to install.

MCA is a method for treating the wood (typically pine) using an EPA-registered waterborne wood preservative system to protect against termite attack and rot. MCA-treated lumber provides a light, natural look, unlike other pressurized wood treatments that result in the greenish hue with which most people are familiar.

You can leave MCA treated lumber in its natural state for a more organic appearance in your outdoor spaces, or you can choose ProWood Dura Color decking that is color-infused with pigment driven deep into the wood fibers. This process creates beautiful treated wood grain that will stand up to the elements for many years, with no need for staining.

“People like the natural look of redwood and cedar, but they don’t want the drawbacks that come with them, such as the high price and the fact that they quickly fade to gray,” says Fox. “ProWood Dura Color lumber not only looks like natural cedar or redwood, but the color lasts much longer and is backed by a two-year color assurance warranty”

When researching treated wood materials for outdoor home improvement projects, such as a deck addition, Fox suggests discussing the project with the local lumber dealer and to be sure to understand and check the end tag for:

1. The description of use (above ground or ground contact)
2. Warranty statement
3. The quality standards it meets
4. Third-party quality inspection (which assures product has passed retention and penetration tests).

To learn more about the MCA process and get ideas about outdoor home improvement projects, visit www.prowoodlumber.com. Research proves a wood deck is a sound investment, and now with new eco-friendly decking materials, homeowners have more options than ever when it comes to improving their home’s exterior spaces.

 

How To Choose the Right Windows for Your Home

 

JroppoWhether you’re getting ready for a window replacement project for your property or building a new home, choosing the right windows can seem like a major task. You’ll need to decide whether you want fiberglass, vinyl or wood-clad, but the decisions don’t end there. Homeowners also need to choose the right style window and grille. Learn more about the specific styles that work for each property type so you can keep it looking great.

 

What Type Of Window For A Tudor Home?

 

If you have a Tudor style, your windows will likely be double hung styles with a pattern near the top of the glass or casement styles with six to eight panes or simulated-divided -lights separated by muntins. Muntins are small strips of metal or wood that hold each individual pane of glass in place or mimic the look of individual panes of glass, however they can also be called glazing bars, grilles, grids or muntin bars. A casement window will open from the side to provide a large vertical opening, while double hung styles can open from either the top or the bottom, allowing homeowners to customize the breeze that comes into their house.

 

Do You Have A Modern Property? 

 

Modern windows use single, large panes of glass without any grilles or other adornments. The look is clean, sleek and modern and provides an unobstructed view of the outdoors, which is great if you’re trying to keep an eye on your kids playing outside.

 

What Type For A Farmhouse?

 

If you have a farmhouse, your property is built for function and simplicity. Windows in a farmhouse are typically two panes of glass divided by a muntin in the middle. It’s not uncommon for a farmhouse to feature double hung styles to create a breeze through the house from both the top and the bottom.

 

What Style Works In A Craftsman House?

 

Many styles work in a Craftsman home — from large picture windows that don’t actually open to functional ones that use a combination of full panes on the bottom and divided panes at the top. It’s not uncommon for a working window to be a double hung style so homeowners can choose to open them from the top or the bottom.

 

Do You Have a Prairie House?

 

If you have a prairie style home, the casement style is right for your house. They’re typically simple and plain, but may have a grid pattern along the sides to add some visual interest.

 

What Type Of Windows For A Cape Cod Or Colonial?

 

Double hung styles are common for a Cape Cod or Colonial home, and these are typically made of six individual panes of glass separated by muntins. Some of these houses may even have a non-functional picture window at the front of the house to add a bit of visual interest.

 

What Style For A Victorian?

 

If you have a true Victorian or just a Victorian style home, a window may include special touches to add visual interest, including colored glass accents, fanlights and diamond-patterned grids. The beauty and light shines through easily, creating a one of a kind look for your home.

 

No matter what style of home you have, it’s important to choose the right windows. If you’re still not sure which type is right for your house, work with a window replacement company. They’ll be knowledgeable about which style will maximize the return on your investment when it’s time to sell your home.

 

About the Author:

Opal Enterprises is a professional window replacement company that loves sharing knowledge with homeowners. For over 10 years, they have been providing windows, siding, and roofing to the Naperville, IL are and western suburbs of Chicago.

Best Gardening Tools for Small Lawns

lawnFor small lawns, choose smart tools that get the job done quickly and store away neatly

(BPT) – Small lawns have many of the same needs and issues as larger lawns, but they don’t always require the same bulky tools to get the job done. A smart arsenal for small lawn care includes some sturdy hand tools and a few small, but powerful, gadgets. If you’re looking to outfit your arsenal, consider these tools.

* Easy thatch dispatchers – Thatch is a natural protective layer of debris that forms in lawns at the soil level and helps retain soil moisture. But when thatch gets too thick, matting to half an inch deep or more, it can prevent water, air and nutrients from reaching grass roots. Thatch removal tools slice through and lift thatch. The push-powered, wheeled Combisystem Vertical Cutter by Gardena removes matted thatch and aerates the lawn soil at the same time. For those who prefer manual raking, there’s the sharp-bladed True Temper Thatch Rake.

* Lawn care at the flip of a switch – Small lawns need fertilizer and treatment for weeds just like large lawns. But a large awkward push spreader can be overkill for a small lawn and take up valuable storage space in the garage. The new lightweight, hand-carried, battery-powered Ready2Go Spreader is specifically designed to make quick work of small lawns, slopes and tight spaces. It comes pre-loaded with popular lawn care products from Preen, GreenView and Vigoro. Each unit is pre-calibrated for its product so no further adjustments are ever needed. To use the spreader, just pick it up, flip the switch and walk to cover up to 2,500 square feet to fertilize or treat the lawn. To spiff up yards overrun with weeds including tough dandelions, try the Ready2Go Spreader with Preen Lawn Weed Control. For eco-friendly spring lawn feeding, the Ready2Go Spreader with GreenView Lawn Food offers quick green up plus controlled nutrient release over eight weeks. Each unit is refillable, reusable, and its pre-installed AA batteries are replaceable. After use, store the compact, portable tool on a shelf, with no space lost in the garage or shed.weed

* Water the lawn, not the living room – For a lawn, water ranks with sunlight in terms of importance. For a small lawn, often nestled up close to the house and open summer windows, putting water only where it’s wanted is desirable. The Dramm Colorstorm 9-Pattern Turret Sprinkler has adjustable directional sprays in nine different patterns to water small lawns evenly. Durable and efficient, it gives the lawn the good, deep soaking it needs, while leaving the living room curtains dry and blowing in the summer breeze.

* Keep the lawn in fighting trim – Mowing a lawn regularly is more than aesthetic: keeping grass at the right length, between two-to-four inches, helps grass develop strong roots. The Black and Decker 19-inch cordless electric mulching mower is designed for small lawns. It not only makes it easy to keep the lawn mowed to the correct height, it chops up clippings so they decompose easily, discouraging thatch buildup.

* Give a small lawn an edge – By their nature, small lawns are often viewed up close and personal. Edged lawns not only look nice, they help keep garden weeds out of the lawn and vice versa. But edging by hand is hard work. The GreenWorks 12 Amp Corded Edger is sturdy, lightweight, easy to maneuver and ideally suited to creating crisp tidy edges in turf along borders of walkways, driveways, paths and garden or landscape beds. With only a connecting cord of its own, attach the edger to the grounded outdoor-rated extension cord of choice, up to 50-feet. For those who prefer a manual edging solution, choose an edging tool with a sturdy handle and a strong hand-forged cutting edge such as the English-made Clarington Edging Knife.

These are tools that get the job done and done quickly, keeping small lawns trim, tidy and naturally strengthened to fend off weeds. They’re also compact and easy to store and keep until next needed, a boon where storage spaces are also smaller with no room to spare.

Outdoor kitchens: Tools and tips to do it yourself

kit 2(BPT) – Outdoor kitchens are one of the hottest trends for exterior home improvements in 2014, a survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects reveals. If you’re considering creating a backyard kitchen this year, you may be wondering how much of the work you can do yourself in order to get the most out of your budget. Fortunately, many aspects of the job are within the abilities of the average do-it-yourselfer, and resources like rental stores mean you can easily obtain the tools you need to get the job done.

Getting started

Your first step is to assess your outdoor space, decide where your kitchen will be and determine how much area you can dedicate to it. Will you start from scratch, perhaps creating a patio of pavers or building a new deck to accommodate the kitchen? Or will existing structures provide a starting point?

Next, seek inspiration. Resources like Pinterest, YouTube, home improvement shows and outdoor living websites can provide ideas and insight into current design trends in outdoor kitchens. Gathering ideas can help you decide what elements your kitchen must have – such as a multi-burner stove and ample lighting for nighttime entertaining – and what might be on your list of possible features, like a wet bar or built-in seating around the kitchen.

Designing your outdoor kitchen

Once you know where your outdoor kitchen will go and what features you will include, it’s time to start laying out your plans. Plenty of online tools are available to helpkit you design an outdoor living space, including the kitchen of your dreams.

You’ll need to consider many factors, including the dimensions and layout of your outdoor kitchen, materials you will use and how you will landscape around it. Popular building materials include pavers, stone, wood or composite materials, and each imparts its own look to your outdoor entertaining area.

The building process

While most homeowners will have at least some of the tools needed to complete an outdoor kitchen, it’s likely you’ll be missing others. Renting tools through an American Rental Association member store is a cost-effective way to obtain the equipment you need without a long-term investment of money and storage space. To find a rental store in your area, visit www.rentalhq.com.

Tool rental can also ease another reality of DIY construction – the ability to work around your schedule and at your own pace. Renting tools means you can get what you need when you need it, without having large or expensive pieces lying around when not in use.

Give yourself plenty of time to work on your outdoor kitchen, and don’t be afraid to seek help. Friends and family can pitch in on basic tasks, but some higher-level jobs – such as installing a gas line for a built-in range – may require professional help.

Six Ways to Kick Your Lawn’s Grass This Season

tractor(BPT) – For most of us, springtime can’t come soon enough. Following a brutal winter with severe temps and record snowfall nationwide, people are more anxious than ever to enjoy the first days of spring outdoors.

To help get your lawn ready for use and enjoyment this season, the Craftsman brand has developed the following tips to ensure that your lawn kicks grass, takes names and becomes the envy of neighbors everywhere.

* Fertilize: Lawns wake up hungry in the spring. Feeding your lawn in the spring strengthens roots and gets it ready for growing season. A well-fed lawn means a better root system to combat weeds early, as well as heat, cold and drought.

* Remove debris: Leftover sticks and leaves from the fall and winter months don’t only look unpleasant, but they deprive the grass of oxygen and sunlight.

* Don’t mow too low: It’s imperative to fix your mower at an elevated setting so that the grass can grow to about 2 1/2 to 3 inches long. This technique results in fewer summertime weeds and healthier, greener looking grass.

* Don’t overwork: For larger yards, lawn maintenance all season long can be a cumbersome experience. To get the job done with exceptional speed, consider the Craftsman 22HP 42-in. Turn Tight (TM) Fast Riding Mower. This not only has a 6-inch turning radius, but can also reach speeds of up to 7.5 mph. To conquer large lawns with rugged terrain and thick grass, consider the powerful new Craftsman G7400 Pro Series Mower, available at sears.com and Sears Hometown stores nationwide. This riding mower boasts Turn Tight (TM) technology, the ability to reach 7.5 mph and is equipped with a reinforced deck with electric lift, automatic transmission, quick blade change and more.

* Keep it quiet: To avoid disturbing your neighbors and to protect your hearing, consider using the new Craftsman Quiet Front Wheel Drive Lawn Mower. This new lawn mower (also offered in an all-wheel drive model) is equipped with the Briggs & Stratton’s Quiet Power Technology (TM) Engine and is 65 percent quieter than a similar Toro lawn mower model (20371). It is so quiet that you can talk to your neighbors and hear your kids while the motor is still running.

* Let it breathe: Aerating – or poking small holes in your lawn – is a great way to improve oxygen circulation and nutrient penetration. Consider ventilating your lawn with spiked shoes or the Craftsman 36-inch Spike Aerator that works with all brands of riding lawn mowers and tractors.

With these six tips, your lawn will be in good shape for the growing season and will take top honors for the best-looking lawn in the neighborhood. For more information about recommended Craftsman lawn and garden products, visit www.craftsman.com or Sears stores nationwide. To receive exclusive Craftsman deals, gain access to members-only projects, get expert tips and learn about the latest tool innovations from the brand, don’t forget to sign up for Craftsman Club, supported by SHOP YOUR WAY (TM). Shop Your Way points can be redeemed for purchases at Sears and Kmart.

How to Go Green When Remodeling

Just because remodeling necessarily implies “changing your environment” doesn’t mean you have to fret about harming the planet when you replace your floors,go green ceilings and walls. In fact, the building industry, like every other nowadays, offers many eco-friendly options for renovating your space. And, when you think about it, even adding an addition is eco-friendly, considering you’re adding onto an existing structure, rather than despoiling unused land for a completely new one.

But, beyond this, there are many ways you can transform your home while also helping to preserve the environment. The following is a short list of some of the best of these options:

5 Green Remodeling Tips

1. Be Materials-Conscious

The most eco-friendly source for remodeling materials is decidedly local. But, if you don’t live in a forest and don’t have access to a mom-and-pop lumber yard, you can build with prefabricated wood products, such as studs, joists and trusses manufactured from smaller stock. These products are already sized and shaped to serve their intended function, so there is no waste, in cutting to size, from using them. Additionally, many big-box retailers carry products premade for use as trimming and deck work that are made of recycled plastics and wood. Most of all however, always use water-based finishes, paints and stains.

2. Choose Eco-Friendly Flooring

The volatile organic compounds found in some kinds of flooring can contaminate the air inside your home. It’s better to go with linoleum or natural-fiber carpeting, both of which can last decades and are made from renewable resources. The cork in linoleum, for instance, is harvested without damaging cork trees.

Better still, however, is carpet-like flooring made from reeds and grasses, as well as stone and ceramic tile and hardwood and bamboo. In any case, be sure to air out your house after installation whenever you use adhesives.

3. Insulate Properly

People do some of the greatest harm to the environment by wasting energy, and one major culprit for energy waste is poorly insulated homes. Energy waste isn’t just an environmental issue; it’s a financial issue. Consequently, making sure your home is properly insulated will both help the environment and save you money in air conditioning and heating your home. Otherwise, you are essentially throwing money out the window.

As for eco-friendly insulation materials, the building industry offers several, including loose-fill insulation made from recycled paper. One great way to renovate your home, save money and help the environment, then, is to simply use this material to re-insulate an existing structure. If you choose to do so, remember to re-insulate your heating and cooling ducts and to install windows made from insulated glass.

4. Go Solar

Yes, installing solar panels has a very high upfront cost, but you could eventually make your entire investment back by selling unused energy to the grid. But solar panels aren’t the only way to go “solar.” In fact, by simply choosing the correct window placement, size and ventilation in a new structure or addition, you can drastically reduce the amount of energy you use (and money you spend) heating your home.

5. Buy Green Appliances

It might not occur to you, but every time you turn on that old washing machine, you’re wasting immense amounts of water and electricity. In this case, again, a good way to save both money and energy is to update your appliances. In fact, finding energy efficient appliances is easier than ever as all major appliances must now have EnergyGuide labels attached to them, making it super-easy to compare models’ and brands’ energy and water consumption.

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Contributing Author: Paul Kazlov is a “green” home modeling enthusiast that understands the importance of going green.  Paul writes for the Global Home Blog and strives to educate people about “green” products such as metal roofing and solar.  Follow him on Twitter @PaulKazlov.