I’ve attended many seminars on green home improvement
topics over the years. And while I’ve learned a great many things, one overarching topic I’ve heard discussed time and time again is the misconception about prioritizing
where to begin.
Most often, this debate will begin with the topic of window replacements. It’s easy to jump to windows when you think of how to make a home more efficient, even if there is nothing glaringly wrong with your existing windows. Few other places around the house will give you more direct feedback on their lack of efficiency than a drafty window on a windy day. However, the reality of windows is, no matter what top-of-the-line brand you have, they are never going to be perfect. Think of windows as huge breaks in your solid wall that will jeopardize a tightly sealed home. You may be able to improve how much air seeps through, possibly add an additional pane or two, but no matter what, they will remain an area where heat is lost. What’s more, they are expensive. If you have several thousand dollars to invest in improving your home, money will be better spent on a project that will give a quicker return on investment or has a more pressing need to be replaced. Still, people will feel the drafts of windows and always conclude that this is where to put their money.
This is part of a larger concept in sustainability
; when one wants to do something green because it seems like the best option, even if it hasn’t been properly researched. Or worse, one chooses a particular improvement because the results will attract the most attention. Several years ago an enormous mansion was named a top Energy Star home because it installed energy efficient appliances and therefore reduced their energy by 15%. While I’m sure they were proud of this title, I can’t help but think a family living in a house a quarter of the size, who are very mindful of their energy consumption, may be better recipients of an energy saving award, though maybe not as noteworthy. When we misdirect our focus, our intention of being green can fall short.
Another important aspect in sustainability is finding a balance to your green decisions
. If you want to live ‘off the grid’, but investing in the amount of solar panels to do so would bankrupt you, that cannot be defined as sustainable. Don’t rush into decisions; make sure they’re right for you. Sustainability is a dynamic area and many people who rush to be the greenest are left with an unhappy result. I personally can’t believe that every person who has moved into a modular home
with a square footage of less than 200 square feet because they wanted to lower their carbon footprint is truly happy with this decision. Your decisions aren’t sustainable if you can’t live with them. In your attempts to go green, if you end up negatively affecting yourself (be it by spending too much money or designing a home you’re not happy with) even your passion for sustainability will become unsustainable.
Keep these thoughts in mind as you make improvements in your home. Changing something out when it’s not ready is just adding more waste to the landfill before it truly belongs there. You aren’t going to lose the race if you wait until your windows really are in need of replacing. Above all else, sustainability is about being mindful.
And as far as those drafty windows go, until they are truly in need of replacement, make do with some less than glamorous but still effective draft solutions but clicking here