1. Go Thrift Shopping

“Check in thrift stores and online for used furniture that you can convert to your needs,” suggests Nirmala Naidoo. Naidoo is the executive director of Green Calgary, a local urban environmental charity. Eco-conscious renovators can also look at reclaimed wood or other kinds of recycled materials for flooring, countertops, or shelving. Those solutions may be easy on the wallet, but here’s Naidoo’s most radical tip: buy nothing. “Find new spots for old furniture,” she says, “such as turning an old dresser into a new shelving unit.” The tools you need for your reno might be right in front of you.

2. Investigate Your Paint

Turns out even green paint might have a dirty little secret. “Painting is an easy way to brighten up a home, but the biggest issue are the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in many paints,” says Naidoo. VOCs can cause air pollution, so they’re bad news for your lungs and for the planet. Naidoo suggests rolling on some low-VOC paint, recycled latex paint, or natural paint, instead€”look at the labels or ask your local paint department before you buy.

Nirmala is sharing 20 Steps to a Greener Home on the Calgary Renovation Show Main Stage on Sunday, January 19 at 1:00 p.m. You can also check out more of Green Calgary’s work at the Sustainable Solutions display, which showcases advice from Green Calgary’s local eco-experts and sustainable products from other show exhibitors.

3. Don’t Give Up on Plants (Even if You Kill a Few)

Adding greenery is a great way to freshen up a space. “Our homes have many different microclimates, just like outside in the garden,” says Janet Melrose of Calgary’s Cottage Gardner. “The amount of sunlight each room receives it vital.” Janet suggests considering warmth, sunlight, humidity, and even whether or not you have pets or preschoolers when selecting greenery€”you don’t want a toxic plant putting anyone in harm’s way. Do research on what plants are right for you, and don’t give up if it doesn’t work out the first time. “In our world where we are always supposed to succeed 100% of the time, it can be discouraging if a plant just doesn't work out,” says Melrose. Killing a houseplant isn’t a personal failure; being a plant person requires perseverance.

For more of Janet’s tips, check out her presentation on Sustainable Food Gardening at the Calgary Renovation Show on Sunday, January 19 at 3:00 p.m.

4. Go Towards the (LED) Light

LED lighting is leading the way in many of our interior design projects,” says Jamie Banfield of Jamie Banfield Design. LED lights last up to 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs; they’re a money and planet saver all in one. A couple of Banfield’s favourite LEDs are the Vega CH10345 from Kuzco and Bulbrite Dimmable bulbs. Switching to LEDs is an easy (cost-effective) way to make your home a little greener.

5. Cut a Rug

Banfield also suggests using carpets to keep your home warmer and the planet a little cooler. “Carpets create warmth in your space, and will also insulate any draft coming through your floor,” says Banfield. If carpets aren’t your thing (don’t be too quick to judge, not every carpet is an orange shag), area rugs also work, and 100% wool ones are also biodegradable.

For more of Jamie’s tips, hit up one (or both!) of his presentations at the Calgary Renovation Show: How to Get A Designer Kitchen (On Any Budget): 10 Designer Hacks to DIY Like a Pro on Friday, January 17 at 3:00 p.m. and Renovate Like a Designer: 10 Designer Hacks to Renovating a Kitchen Like a Pro on Saturday, January 18 at 5:00 p.m.

6. Put a Sweater On

The old adage to turn down the thermostat and put on a sweater is really true,” says Tyler Hermanson, Director of 4 Elements Integrated Design Ltd. “Our grandparents were right.” Okay, this isn’t really a renovation tip€”but it’s a change anyone can make. As Energy Advisors, 4 Elements recommends setting the temperature of your home back to 18°C at night. “A typical home will save 3-5% in annual energy,” says Hermanson. You can use all the money you save to invest in more sweaters.

Tyler will be sharing advice on how to renovate your home to make it more energy efficient at the Calgary Renovation Show at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday, January 19 (which is also Sustainability + Energy Conservation Day).

Calgary Renovation Show

January 17-19 2020
BMO Centre at Stampede Park