(photo credit: icanhascheezburger.com )
In spite of the downturn in the economy, I'm optimistic for the upcoming year. Ungrateful beasts they are, houses need remodeling no matter what happens. And with the urge to reduce and conserve, here's what my mother and I predict will become the wave over the next couple of years:
- Energy-efficient appliances and lighting: Ok, we know that many appliances are energy-efficient, but are yours?
- Replacing lighting: fluorescent and LED lighting. If you can't replace lighting, consider dimmer switches.
- Energy -efficient appliances Elsewhere, getting rid of old appliances and searching for those with Energy Star ratings. (This is for the U.S.; in Europe, link to European Union Energy Star)
- Plumbing: In California and other warmer states, we're experiencing drought-like conditions; hence the need for water conservation.
(Photo credit: Oxygenics)
- Replacing inefficient shower heads: particularly those which add air to the water flow to increase pressure and use anywhere from 30% - 50% less water. Quick retrofit heads can be found in places like Oxgenics. For brand names, look for anything that says 'water-saving', like Grohe with their Water Care products or Moen's new water-saving shower head.
- Replacing old toilets with low-flow toilets: I'm a fan of Toto toilets (my apologies to the rest of you out there -- I just think they're the best.) Low-flow is the way to go. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)
- Replacing old water heaters with new: almost anything is more efficient than a 1970s water heater. There's also tankless water heaters (which will come as no surprise to the rest of the world) where water is heated on demand instead of a huge tank that needs heating all the time.
(photo credit: EWS)
- Water filtration: the plastic bottle is already on the way out. I've been recommending water filtration for years. And I'm not talking just "under the sink" filtration; consider whole house water filtration, like Environmental Water Systems
(photo credit: Owens-Corning)
- "Weathering" or "weather-proofing" your home: when I first arrived to California, I thought, "Have they never heard of insulation?" I'm joking -- insulation was something of an afterthought in many of the early 1950s-1970s homes here, so the homes don't retain their heat/coolness that well. Some of you are so handy I doubt you'd need a contractor for caulking or basic attic insulation, but we joke we should be buying shares in the following companies over the next few years! It's amazing the difference it can make:
- Replacing old insulation in the attic, walls and floors:Replacing the attic insulation is a simple and relatively inexpensive fix. Be aware that Insulation can also affect indoor air quality so those of you with sensitivity issues may want to do some homework first.
- Adding or replacing weatherstripping at all windows and exterior doors: Stand at your doors. How much breeze is going in and out? Check your cat/dog doors -- some of these can be terrible for allowing warmth or a/c to escape. Add weatherstripping or door sweeps.
- Caulking: ok, this probably doesn't fall under remodeling, but it's a very helpful and simple fix. Caulk the "whistle-holes" around windows, joints, air-conditioner units, windows and door frames.
- Replacing old single-pane windows with double-pane