By Henry Walsh

Dream Green

Ah, the simple and natural life in beautiful Tennessee – you can’t imagine being anywhere else! Nashville is one of the most eco-friendly cities in the nation. That’s why it’s essential to use ecologically sustainable options when remodeling your home. You’ll increase your property’s value as you help to improve our environment. The City of Nashville’s Division of Sustainability defines sustainability as elements that reduce carbon, waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and energy.

When designing and building upgrades to your Nashville home, you can add some design flair and “go green” in many different ways.

Start by reducing the amount of heat and electricity you use. The cost of energy-saving projects vary, but in the long run, the benefits of lower utility bills are worth it. It also pays off when the time comes to put the house up for sale. Doing your fair share to protect the environment is a big plus, too. These six remodeling and “fix-it” projects will get the job done.

1. Insulation

Weather-stripping, caulk, and sealant prevent heat from escaping during the winter and keep cool air inside during the summer. Controlling air flow with rigid foam insulation, especially in the attic, will make your home more energy efficient. Structural insulated panels (SIPs) on floors, ceilings, and walls cut down on wasted power and reduce outside noise. Leafy trees and awnings placed outside west and east-facing windows create natural shading.

2. Natural and Artificial Light

Let the sunshine in! Solar tubes and skylights bring in nature’s bright light. You can install clerestory windows in high-up wall sections where the sunshine streams through. Wood or vinyl framed multiple-pane windows reduce energy costs by keeping drafts at bay. Ask an architect about the feasibility of adding natural light windows for cooling and ventilation. Designing a solar energy system should start with an energy audit to see how much juice your house is using each season.

Compact fluorescent light bulbs use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent ones, and they last 10 times as long. LED lights (light-emitting diodes) are brighter, do not burn out but instead dim over time, and are not hot to the touch. LEDs shine in a specific direction which allows them to use energy more efficiently than incandescent bulbs.

3. Eco-friendly Appliances

Replacing older units with energy-efficient appliances is a great way to upgrade your Nashville home. Look for Energy Star appliances such as dishwashers, washers and dryers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, and air purifiers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s yellow Energy Star label will help you choose the right appliances for your home.

4. Water Usage

Install low-flow showerheads and faucets, and low-flush toilets to reduce water usage. Low-flush toilets use about 1.3 gallons of water each flush, instead of the standard 1.6 gallons in regular toilets. The EPA estimates a savings of $90 per year. Showerheads have also gotten an upgrade by cutting down on the amount of water released. Look for the EPA’s WaterSenselabel when purchasing new showerheads for your bathroom. While you’re at it, ease up on those long, hot showers and fix the annoying dripping and leaky faucets!

You can save even more money by looking outside. Install a concrete patio to absorb heat and cut back on the size of the lawn. Plant drought-tolerant plants and check your sprinkler system for leaks.

5. Natural and Recycled Materials

Remodel your Nashville home with real wood, cork, bamboo, ceramic and stone tiles made from natural and recycled materials. Forest Service Council (FSC) wood is available for flooring and framing. It’s certified to be harvested in a sustainable manner. Recycled materials are also available from retailers who specialize in repurposed sinks, cabinet hardware, and flooring. Want to remodel the fireplace? Consider applying recycled tile or glass blocks around the hearth.

You can also use recycled wood in your yard and garden. Build a birdhouse with sustainable materials. Use recycled wood or bamboo to make a compost box. Use the compost box to recycle food scraps and nourish your garden!

6. Alexa, Turn Off the Lights!

Whichever method you prefer, adding smart technology will help you remember to do simple things. For example, a programmable thermostat will cut down on energy costs and keep the home temperature level. You can turn off lights, turn the heat down or the air conditioner off with the tap of an app.

Whether you’re getting it ready to sell or just want to remodel your Nashville home for a long stay, being energy-conscious will pay for itself. More importantly, it will help you to leave less of a carbon footprint on planet Earth.

Henry Walsh is a gardening writer and eco-conscious living advocate. He recently began his homesteading journey after many years of incorporating the principles into his urban lifestyle.