02 March / 2018
Design An Earth Friendly Home: Going Green Is Easier Than You Think
A more energy efficient home isn't a matter of choosing one product over another, it's about a having a new mindset. From the kilowatts you draw off the power grid to the gallons of water down your drain, virtually every facet of homeownership has an impact on the environment. We have a ton of easy updates you can do in a weekend or less to improve your quality of life and leave a smaller carbon footprint.
Bamboo in the Bath
For environmentally conscientious home owners, bamboo is a gift from the eco-gods. Not only has it become the go-to material for furniture and flooring in the last few years but it can also be used as a material for tubs and sinks, and it's even making its way into the wardrobe as an alternative to cotton and silk. Durable, lightweight, waterproof, and easy to clean, bamboo is even harder than some types of hardwood traditionally used in flooring such as oak. Bamboo, technically a type of grass, replenishes itself in seven months and requires no pesticides to grow. But what does this mean for you?
A tradition of using bamboo for wash basins, drain pipes and spigots, walls and flooring inside of private baths has deep roots in East Asia including China, Filipines and Vietnam, where the majority of this crop grows. That tradition is finding its way back into the modern bath with everything from tubs and sinks to cabinets and tile. This year, the trend toward spa-style bathrooms is bigger than ever: Think wide-open floor plans, natural light, walk-in showers, and vessel sinks. For the latter, bamboo is an excellent choice because of its aforementioned qualities but also because the warm unfinished wood color complements spa-like features including plants, natural light from skylights, and the use of other organic-material accessories.
In the future the most precious resource will not be oil or lithium-ion but water. Until chemical engineers perfect desalinization on a commercial scale, keeping an eye on every drop of this life-giving element is the only way to make sure we have enough for the next generation, and to make home life enjoyable. Water-conserving showerheads are one approach to consuming less of this precious resource. Another strategy is making the most of the water you do use, like with acrylic bathtubs which are known for heating up extremely fast. Cast-iron tubs don't heat up as fast but their amazing insulation properties keep your water hot for a longer time.
With standard toilets, you tend to consume more water with every flush but the newer generation of one-piece toilets hove power flush options that use a more powerful vaccuum to expel waste through the trapway as opposed to more water.
Wood floors are beautiful but they come at a high cost, financially and environmentally. Stone pavers or ceramic tiles are an alternative to getting that luxurious look and feel throughout your home. And instead of paint, which may contain hazardous chemicals, try wallpaper as a practical and safe way to cover floors and walls.
We've LED the Way
It used to be that you had to change incandescent (standard) bulbs frequently, but todays' breed of CFLs, LEDs, and other high efficiency lighting options has turned the task of swapping out your bulbs from once every six months to more like every six years. Vanities and mirrors with built-in LEDs offer high quality task-oriented light to make your wash, shave or make-up routines quicker and your power bill lower, and by extension, put fewer discarded bulbs into the local landfill.
Solar panels are excellent ideas in the long run but try incremental upgrades before diving headlong into ecotopia. Once you see how even small changes to your interior design influences your living habits and lessens the environmental impact, you'll want to continually find new and beautiful ways to green-ify your space.
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