Helping Homeowners “Tread Lightly”
on Earth’s Natural Resources
By Michelle Donfrio
The new trend in home remodeling is “green,” meaning environmentally safe and energy-saving. Remodeling a room to meet green standards combines beauty with function; when applied to a room or an entire home, it’s also typically more affordable in the long run.
In 2002, roughly 13,000 homes were “built green” and the number continues to grow. It starts with cutting back and rethinking a space.
Mark Mazza of DreamMaker in Schaumburg, which specializes in helping homeowners produce more energy-efficient spaces, says that what constitutes a “green” space or home is the use of recycled materials and/or sustainable species of materials that “tread more lightly on the Earth’s natural resources.”
Those seeking to make their living spaces greener give a variety of reasons for doing so: health issues, skyrocketing energy costs, or simply to do their part to help save natural resources.
“Many of the companies we work with now or buy from,” says Mazza, “are working with agencies to certify their products. The manufacturing plants such as our cabinet company Showplace Wood Products are part of the Environmental Stewardship Program through the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association.”
Products should be examined in terms of how much energy they use and the amount of natural resources that are being consumed while working. Bigger is not better. When shopping to find a more energy-efficient product, a well-informed consumer should ask a lot of questions. Retailers such as Grants Appliance can offer plenty of information on environmentally friendly appliances and point out the differences in energy efficiency, utility costs, initial investment vs. long-term savings, and more.
A simple refrigerator is usually one of the biggest electricity/energy guzzlers in the house. Choosing a refrigerator with a Sunfrost or Vestfrost system will cut back on the electric bills, even if their initial purchase price is higher. The stove should have an excellent ventilation system to clear out extra smoke from cooking.
Indigenous countertops, or counters made with indigenous stone and recycled materials, are well-sealed to prevent staining and are also less toxic. Stonecutter in Schaumburg provides a wide selection of granite fabrication for counters that homeowners can choose from to match the design and colors of the kitchen space.
While some may opt to modify their entire home into a more environmentally friendly one, anyone can employ these “green tips” to save a few dollars as well as save energy:
• Instead of high-wattage bulbs, try a softer lighting that uses less electricity. IKEA stores carry bedroom lamps that use only low-wattage bulbs. Also, try to use the natural light windows let in, instead of turning on lights in the house; if an extra window can be created in order to avoid using an artificial light, homeowners can save that much more. Plants should sit on the window ledges to add extra oxygen and life to the room.
• Save on space. Green rooms effectively use space without using a lot of materials. Often an extra space/appliance/gadget causes only more garbage and clutter, which in turn means less quality living space to enjoy. Toss anything that may be cluttering the room and causing additional trash.
• When shopping for appliances, do not choose one that has a lot of extra features as they are usually unnecessary and cause the machine to use more energy.
• To make kitchens and baths more environmentally friendly, says Mazza of DreamMaker, “homeowners can buy non-toxic paints and sealants, programmable thermostats, energy-efficient appliances, natural flooring, local building materials, natural fiber rugs and fabrics, recycled material roof shingles and tiles, energy-efficient lighting, insulated hot water pipes, tankless water heaters, quality insulation and native plants for landcaping to name a few.”