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Sustainable home renovation: benefits, tips, and guidelines for Aussie homeowners

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sustainable home renovation

Although most homeowners renovate their homes to update their looks, make them more functional, or repair damages, you can also renovate your home to make it sustainable. Sustainable homes are becoming more common because of their many benefits. This article will tell you everything you need to know if you want to make sustainable home renovation your next big project. 

What makes a home sustainable?

Sustainable homes consume less power compared to conventional homes. Because of its energy efficiency, owners of sustainable homes can expect lower utilities. Although a sustainable home renovation often aims to reduce electrical consumption, a sustainable home also uses less water. 

Another aspect that makes a home sustainable is the use of eco-friendly materials. It uses materials that won’t cause harm to the environment. Sustainable homes also use durable materials to ensure that you won’t need new construction materials after just a few years. 

Benefits of a sustainable home

Energy efficient

Making your home energy-efficient is one of the best reasons to make your home sustainable. With the costs of utilities rising each year, finding ways of reducing energy consumption can benefit your family in the long run. Although the initial cost of replacing existing systems with energy-efficient ones can be high, you will notice a marked decrease in your bills, and this will allow you to recoup your initial set-up costs after a few years. 

Low maintenance

Sustainable home renovation uses durable materials that require less maintenance. When you use sustainable materials, you will have a home that looks newer for a longer period. You can save money because durable materials are less likely to require repairs. You are also helping the environment because the extended lifespan of your home means you won’t need new building materials for repairs or renovations. What’s excellent about sustainable materials is an expert interior designer can make them work with a wide variety of house designs and themes. 

sustainable home renovation

Healthier living environment

Manufacturing building materials require the use of chemicals that can harm your family called volatile organic compounds. Volatile organic compounds are gasses released into the air from building materials. Most are harmful by themselves, while others become harmful when they contact other gasses. VOCs are also thought to be carcinogenic or can cause cancer. Common VOCs used during home renovations include aerosol sprays, wood preservatives, paint, paint strippers, and furniture polish. Using eco-friendly materials during a sustainable home renovation can help prevent your family from getting in contact with these harmful substances.

Increased comfort

Sustainable homes have better insulation making them more comfortable for your family. The improved insulation of sustainable homes can help you maintain a stable interior temperature even if the outside weather becomes too cold or hot. Living in a sustainable home means that you don’t have to operate your heating or cooling system. This can result in lower utility bills and help prolong your HVAC system’s lifespan. 

Increased property value

Sustainable homes can command higher selling prices compared to conventional homes because the house already uses the latest technology. You can also use sustainability as a selling point because your house uses less energy and can help the new homeowners save money. In addition, the materials are durable and can prolong the life of the house without regular maintenance work. 

Laws governing sustainability

Building sustainable homes lead to houses that use less power, waste less energy and reduce pollution. Aside from the many benefits that sustainable homes deliver to homeowners, they also contribute to global efforts to reduce pollution and combat global warming. 

Like many other countries, Australia has crafted laws and regulations to ensure that buildings comply with sustainability standards, including the National Construction Code. The National Construction Code specifies minimum requirements that building contractors need to comply with, including provisions concerning fire safety, accessibility, health, and sustainability. 

Building owners need to have their buildings or houses assessed to comply with the NCC. Assessors will check a building’s HVAC systems, external glazing and shading, sealing, the performance of artificial lighting, heated water supply, and energy monitoring devices. These assessments are compiled in a report that many local councils in Australia require before issuing a building permit. Australia’s states and territories have their building regulations, so don’t be surprised if you see one state having different provisions from others. They can delete or add provisions to suit local circumstances, so it might be better to get a building or energy assessor familiar with local regulations to ensure the full compliance of your building or home. 

If you are in New South Wales, you have the Building Sustainability Index or BASIX instead of the National Construction Code. This index aims to reduce water usage and greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40 per cent. BASIX is easier to understand, and homeowners can do the assessment instead of hiring an assessor. If you are from NSW, you can access the BASIX guidelines to help you conduct the evaluation. 

solar panel roof

What to do before renovating your home to make it sustainable

Before starting your sustainable home renovation, you need to conduct an energy audit to ensure that you get the most out of your renovations. An energy advisor will inspect your house and check for areas that require insulation. These are places in your home with leaks that allow heat to escape or places where cold gets in during the winter. If left unchecked, these leaks will cause your HVAC system to work overtime and use more power.

The energy advisor also inspects windows and doors to determine their heat-retention capabilities. An energy advisor will also check your appliances to identify those that consume too much power, so you know which devices to replace if you want to save on electricity. 

An energy advisor can advise you on what to do to make your home more energy-efficient. Your draftsman can use this information to develop a renovation plan that will result in an energy-efficient home.    

How do you make a sustainable home?

Upgrading your insulation

Proper insulation goes a long way towards achieving sustainability in your home. During winter, your heating system works overtime to keep your home warm by pumping warm air throughout your house. If your home has many holes, cracks, and openings, warm air will escape, and your heating system needs to work harder to make your home comfortably warm. There are also gaps around your doors and windows that require insulation.

You can fix this issue by using insulation to plug in those unwanted holes and openings so your house can retain warm air. With less warm air escaping your home, your heating system won’t have to work hard, resulting in less energy consumption and more savings. 

If you have a garage, a laundry area, or a dirty kitchen, ensure that the doors and windows have proper insulation. These areas often get left out when insulating homes and lead to energy loss. 

You should also pay attention to your basement and attic. These areas are weak spots and often have no insulation, so they’re usually cooler or warmer than other areas in your home. The difference in temperature results in an imbalance, and the cool air in these areas can leak into the living areas. This will force your heating system to make up for the difference resulting in increased energy consumption. 

Using green building materials

Green materials are excellent agents of sustainability because they get manufactured using less power, so they leave less carbon footprint. They are also more durable, so there’s no need to worry about repairing or replacing them as long as you maintain them properly. As a result, suppliers don’t need to cut more trees or manufacture more materials. 

Another option is to reclaim, reuse, or recycle materials during your renovation. For example, if your shelves are still in good condition but look worn, don’t replace them. Instead, you can re-furnish them using VOC-free paint to make them look new. If you replace your hardwood floor, you can save the wooden planks and use them to create something new, like tables, chairs, or cabinets. Giving old materials new life reduces wastage and pollution. 

Sourcing materials from local suppliers can also lead to sustainability because there’s no need to transport materials from afar. This means less fuel consumption and less vehicle emissions that contribute to air pollution. 

sustainable home renovation

Replacing your HVAC system

If you have an old heating system that consumes a lot of power, it’s time to replace it with a newer and more energy-efficient one. Innovations in new heating systems prevent heat leakage, so warm air gets channelled where they are needed instead of going to waste. You can also make your heating system more efficient by insulating its ducts. Heating ducts develop leaks, and proper insulation can help you prevent wasting heat. 

Your air conditioning system might also need replacing if you’ve had it for several years. Old air conditioning systems consume a lot of energy which might explain your horrendous electric bill during summer. When shopping for a replacement air conditioning system, look for ones with Energy Star ratings because they use less power to operate. 

Upgrading your windows

It may not look like it, but your windows are the primary culprits for wasting energy. Windows allow outside air in and let warm inside air out, forcing your HVAC systems to work harder. 

If you’ve insulated the areas around your windows, you’re on the right track, but you can do something more. You can replace your window panes with double or triple-glazed glass to be more energy-efficient. 

In some instances, a home will be more energy-efficient by reconfiguring the windows, and a  building designer can help you decide on a better configuration. For example, having all your windows facing away from the sun is not energy-efficient because it requires your heating system to work harder, and a draftsman can remedy this by including new windows in the renovation plan. 

sustainable home renovation

Using energy-efficient appliances

Aside from your HVAC system, the appliances that you use also contribute to the power that your household consumes. Old appliances consume more electricity, and as crazy as it might sound, replacing them can help you save money. Yes, it will cost you to replace old appliances, but you should also consider the resulting savings because your new appliances will lead to lower electric bills. As mentioned earlier, look for an Energy Star rating when shopping for replacement appliances. The Energy Star rating will tell you how much electricity it consumes, so you can compare several appliances and get the one that uses less power. 

Conserve natural resources

Reducing the wastage of resources is another goal of a sustainable home renovation. Aside from helping conserve natural resources, you are also saving money because it will lead to lower utilities and water bills. 

One of the best ways to conserve water is to replace fixtures that use too much water. You can replace your showerheads with low-flow ones that use less water. Some toilets use less water per flush than standard toilets. To make your kitchen more efficient, consider replacing your kitchen faucet with one that uses a sensor. A sensor-activated tap can help prevent water wastage because it reduces the likelihood of someone leaving the faucet running after use. Automatic faucets are also easier to use for children and elderly family members. 

Another area that consumes a lot of water is your yard or garden, so you should consider including them during renovations. You can work with a landscape designer to develop a garden or yard that uses less water. If you are just starting your garden, consider cultivating plants that require less water to survive. Another option is to have a rainwater tank you can use to collect water for watering your plants. 

green bedroom

Final words

Renovating your home to make it sustainable is a great first step if you want to start saving money while helping preserve the environment. When you have a sustainable home, you use less electricity and pay less for utilities. A sustainable home is also more attractive to buyers if you plan to sell your house. It is also more comfortable to live in so your family stays happy whatever the season is. 

With all of these benefits, there is no reason why you should put off your sustainable home renovation project. If you don’t know where to start, let Superdraft help you. We can connect you with an amazing list of building designers, draftsmen, and other renovation experts to help you ensure that you have a lovely and sustainable home once your home renovation project is complete. Sign up today and get a free detailed quote for your project.

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