10 Ways to Green Your Old Home

Shannon Lee

Is it possible to "go green" while preserving the historic value of your old home? You might be surprised at just how easy it is! Here are ten "going green" tips that can make your home environmentally friendly while keeping every bit of that old-house charm.

  1. Use only recyclable materials. You might choose to remodel your home again in the distant future, so make certain the recycled materials you use today can be used again decades later.
  2. Install low-flow plumbing. Most old houses need a plumbing upgrade at some point, and that is your golden opportunity to make it green! Low-flow plumbing uses much less water, thus helping the environment while keeping your water bills down.
  3. Use low-VOC paint. Older paints can contain Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) that release a potent gas when first applied. Low-VOC or no-VOC paints are odor-free and won't compromise air quality.
  4. Opt for reclaimed hardwoods. When replacing or repairing the floors in your home, consider using reclaimed hardwoods. Reclaimed wood has inherent charm, history, and beauty--and quite literally allows you to "save the trees."
  5. Update with cellulose insulation. Cellulose insulation, made of recycled newspapers mixed with boric acid, has a very low carbon footprint and works just as well as other insulation types.
  6. Antique fixtures, modern bulbs. You don't have to have a modern light fixture to save electricity. If your vintage fixtures accept compact fluorescent bulbs, you're in luck!
  7. Repair your windows. Drafty windows account for a large chunk of your heating and cooling bills. Preserve the old windows by carefully replacing the caulk and repairing the frames.
  8. Avoid chemicals. Avoid using chemicals during your remodeling work. Although sometimes chemical use is necessary, you might be able to use products that are gentle on the surrounding environment.
  9. Recycle everything. If you think no one is going to use that old siding or scrap metal, think again! Recycle everything you can and prevent parts of your home from ending up in a landfill. Not sure how to recycle all of it? The Building Materials Reuse Association can help.
  10. Hire a green contractor. Look for certified green professionals to handle your remodeling jobs. You can find good leads on the Green Home Guide, a service of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Going green is just as admirable as preserving an old home--and with a little planning and determination, you can have the best of both worlds!


Bryan Walsh • Greening This Old House • Apr 23, 2009 • http://www.time.comhttp://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1893514,00.html,

About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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