In the third part of this multi-part series, we’re taking a look at how you can remodel your home in a greener way. Our first post examined the kitchen, one of the most used rooms in the house, followed by the bathroom. In this article, we’ll explore how you can make your basement greener. While not every home has a basement, those who do vastly underutilize the space and this post is geared right at that.
One of the downsides of using the basement as an everyday space is it doesn't get a lot of natural light. Some basements are positioned just above the soil line, while others are completely underground. If your basement is the former, maximize the use of windows by using horizontal blinds or small curtains that can be clustered at the sides.
If you don’t have big windows (or windows at all), one neat trick to get around this is to install eco-friendly “fake” skylights or recessed lights in tray ceilings. One of the best known examples of this is inside of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, where the architects have made it seem like it’s always daytime. They've painted the ceiling like a puffy cloud-filled sky, and strategically placed lighting at the edges to enhance the look.
Keep in Mind…
Windows are a big source of drafts and moisture creeping in, two things that can greatly reduce the greenness of the basement. Take care to ensure your windows are tightly sealed and moisture is eliminated as soon and as much as possible when it happens, or else mold and mildew can easily become problems.
Another thing to keep in mind is the proper building code for windows. There needs to be an exit for emergencies, and windows used for this purpose are called egress windows. Contact your city to find out if this is something you need.
Washers and dryers are most frequently found in the basement, and they contribute to a lot of energy use in the home. Buying energy-efficient models will go a long way toward reducing your energy bill and carbon footprint, but there are ways of using them more smartly, too.
Most clothes don’t need to be washed using the hottest water option (whites are an exception), and detergent brands offer soaps specifically designed for cold water washes. When you put your clothes into the washer, make sure you’ve got a full load or you’ll just end up needlessly wasting water. And when it comes time to dry them, opt to hang them out on the line instead of using the dryer. Even if it’s winter, your clothes are much better off outside where they’ll use no energy to dry and end up smelling a lot better. Just remember not to hang them out if it’s dark or damp outside.
Because the basement isn’t as commonly used a room as, say, the living room, it’s tempting to double it as a storage space. This is a fine idea, unless food is in the picture: large fridges or freezers have a tendency to be forgotten in the energy-efficient process. If you’re guilty of this, upgrade that fridge or freezer to a more environmentally friendly model right now. Tip: if you go with a model that’s a couple years old, you’ll still get the benefits but end up paying a lot less.
As for other appliances like TVs, amps, and anything else that requires a cord, there are still ways to make that green, too. In Europe, it’s really common to find an on/off switch on outlets that shut off the flow of electricity when it’s not being used. That’s not really the case here, but you can still buy a switch that does the same job. And if you’re not using the TV down there other than for socializing, unplug—and everything else—until you are using it.
As the third part in a series on how to make your home greener, we looked at the biggest components to greenifying the basement. Stay tuned for the next part in this series where we’ll examine other aspects of your home in remodeling it so it’s greener.