Here are some things everyone should do, to improve the environment and to reduce consumption, when starting a home renovation.
Plug air leaks
Before painting and hanging drapes, five all your outside walls a once-over. Checking for leaks can keep your home at the temperature you prefer while cutting energy use. Check the caulking around windows, weatherstrripping around doors, and insulation around electrical, phone, cable and other outlets around outside walls Plugging those leaks is a do-it-yourself task and can reduce your annual energy bill by $100.
Upgrade to ENERGY STARŪ appliances
Major renovations or a a new home means you should consider new ENERGY STARŪ-qualified appliances. These have a high level of energy efficiency, reducing your electric bills. You could save over $50 a year, per appliance, even if your existing appliance is only 5-10 years old.
Consider solar power
30 years ago, solar meant using the sun's heat for passive rooftop heating of your home's water. Today's photovoltaic arrays use solar power to convert light from the sun directly into electricity for power your home. In many jurisdictions, electricity generated above your needs can be sold back to the local utility to offset power used at night when sunlight is not available. And you can still heat the water.
Reduce your water use
Inside, install inexpensive aerators to your sink faucets, and install low-flow showerheads. Outside, add a rain barrel below the eavestrough downspouts to collect rainwater, and fill your yard and garden with native plants and minimize high-water high-maintenance turf grass landscaping.
Use low-VOC products
Switching to paints and home cleaning products that don't give off volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Low- or no-VOC products greatly improve both indoor air quality and your family's health. Carpets and underlays are now available with non-VOC options. See EPA notes
Use wood alternatives or FSC-certified wood products
New flooring or cabinetry can use materials that reduce your environmental impacts on the world's forests. The Forest Stewardship Council certifies wood products from sustainably managed forests. Consider using environmentally- preferable products such as linoleum, recycled-content tile, or rapidly renewable bamboo,