How to Renovate Your Home for a Healthier Planet — And a Healthier You

If you’re looking for ways to improve the environment, at home is the best place to start. Not only can household changes make a big impact on the environment, but many green renovations are great for your health too!

5 Home Upgrades for a Healthier Planet

Move Your Living Space Outdoors

Spending more time outdoors reduces stress, decreases blood pressure, and reduces your risk of asthma, allergies, and even diabetes. It’s also a great way to reduce energy consumption at home. However, you don’t have to go hiking three times a week to reap the benefits of nature — all you need is your own backyard! If your backyard isn’t a comfortable place to spend time, give it a makeover. A wooden fence adds privacy at an average cost of $2,754, or $17 to $45 per linear foot, though it all depends on the materials. Pressure-treated pine, for instance, runs from $1 to $5 per foot, whereas tropical hardwoods will cost you more, at $8 to $15 per foot.

Additionally, a patio is an ideal surface for outdoor dining and quality time. Again, the cost to install a patio depends on the material you choose; while pea gravel is inexpensive at $6 to $10 per square foot, brick and stone are costlier at $14 and up per square foot.

Replace Water-Hungry Species with Native Plants

Now that you’re spending more time outdoors, you want to ensure it’s a safe and eco-friendly space too. Pesticides and lawn chemicals have been linked to health risks, especially in children. They also runoff into waterways where they contribute to water pollution.

An easy way to avoid lawn chemicals is by planting native species. Since these species are adapted to your environment and soil type, they tend to require less water, fertilizer, and other maintenance. Native plants also support local wildlife and pollinator species. Installing new landscape plants can cost $1,000 to $5,000 if you install them yourself, but if overhauling your landscape, spend another $2,000 to $6,000 to consult with a landscape designer.

Invest in Solar Energy

Going outdoors shouldn’t be the only time you get natural light. Natural sunlight is essential for bone health and mental health and also helps you see more clearly. Installing skylights increases natural light in your home while also reducing your energy needs. With skylights starting around $900 each installed, this is a project you’ll need to budget for. Homeowners who are really committed to reducing energy consumption at home should invest in solar. While it has a reputation for being expensive, solar is more competitive than ever. However, it’s worth shopping around — solar prices in the same community can vary as much as 50 percent.

Choose Non-Toxic and Biodegradable Cleaners

Household chemicals are another major contributor to water pollution. While proper disposal is important, avoiding toxic products in the first place is the best way to go green. Not only will you cut back on water pollution, but you’ll also reduce indoor air pollution too! Many household chemicals release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, into the environment where they affect air quality and respiratory health. Luckily, this is one change that’s easy and cheap to accomplish. In fact, homeowners can save money by making their own eco-friendly cleaners.

Remodel for Reduced VOCs

Speaking of VOCs, they’re not just in cleaning sprays and air fresheners. These compounds are also found in furnishings, flooring, and paint.

Rather than live with indoor air pollution, remodel to reduce it by repainting with zero-VOC paint and replacing carpet or engineered wood floors with solid flooring made from natural materials like wood, bamboo, or stone. Interior painting costs around $5,500 for a 2,500-square foot home, but you can spend less if you do all or some of the work yourself. However, replacing flooring is a job for a pro; expect to pay around $1.25 per square foot for removal. Installation costs depend on the flooring but start around $9 per square foot for materials and labor.

While the products we buy and the cars we drive are important, don’t underestimate the impact that your home has on the planet and your health. While most people think of their homes as a safe haven, American households have a dark underbelly when it comes to pollution. Instead of living with it, start making changes to turn your home into a greener, healthier place to be.

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