A house is not just a building - it's a system with inputs and outputs. Maintaining a home takes work, and can generate significant environmental pollution. Environmentally conscious homeowners also face a mismatch between the technology available at the time of their house's construction and what's available now. Fortunately there are many home upgrades that can reduce your house's environmental impact.
Water is one of your home's most important inputs and outputs. Whether your water comes from a well or a municipal water supply, you may be concerned with biological hazards, toxins, and excessive hardness in your water. Plus, there's a risk of these pollutants flowing through and affecting not just you but also your downstream environment. In both cases, installing home water treatment systems is a home upgrade that can protect your health, extend the life of your water-using appliances, and reduce the burden on septic systems or municipal water treatment systems. Another benefit is improved taste - staying hydrated with your own tasty tap water is more environmentally friendly than drinking bottled water. If your toilet, washing machine, or dishwasher is nearing the end of its life, choose a more water-efficient replacement. Consider installing low-flow nozzles on sinks and showers.
Home heating and indoor air quality are issues whose importance to homeowners has risen in tandem with fuel prices and worries about climate change. There are two major home upgrades that can reduce your home's contribution to air pollution: first, insulating the walls, attic, and foundation of your house, and second, upgrading your heating appliance. Replacing combustion appliances (furnaces, boilers, wood stoves, kerosene heaters, etc.) with electrical heating appliances is ideal; replacing them with more efficient combustion appliances is a close second. But if you pursue these upgrades without first ensuring that your house is properly insulated and air-sealed, you may be throwing your money away.
If you have a yard or a community garden plot, you can use that land as part of your home's waste disposal systems. Upgrade your home by starting a compost pile - diverting your food waste will reduce the strain on our landfills, and by keeping grass clippings and other yard waste out of storm drains, you will also help protect groundwater quality.
There are many options for homeowners looking to reduce their environmental impact. To find more information, consult home improvement professionals, national standards organizations, and government resources.