Tips for eco-friendly apartment renovation
Many new-build apartments in Germany are being built with the environment in mind, with energy-saving features. However, this also contributes to an overall higher cost of a new-build home. Buying an unrenovated apartment is the perfect opportunity to develop a long-lasting, sustainable home, while saving money at the same time. Altbau properties are extremely desirable because of their beauty, history, and unique character, but they aren’t necessarily the most eco-friendly buildings. However, there are ways to renovate these apartments sustainably without sacrificing their original charm. Read on to learn everything you need to know about renovating your apartment sustainably.
Use sustainable materials
The easiest way to renovate an apartment sustainably is to simply use materials which are long-lasting and eco-friendly. This is not the time to cheap out-—the higher quality the material, the longer it will last, meaning less waste in the long run. You don’t necessarily have to break the bank, however. Flooring, for example, is an excellent place to use recycled materials. Utilising reclaimed wooden boards is a great way to find high quality wood at a lower price—-and by buying recycled goods, you are not contributing to excess waste. You can also use recycled materials when it comes to work surfaces, like your kitchen countertops. Many brands and companies offer reclaimed materials such as glass, concrete, aluminum, and tiles which can be repurposed for your bathroom and kitchen. Another great sustainable option is eco-friendly paint-—meaning low or no-VOC paints. Normally paint used on walls contains chemical ingredients which evaporate into the atmosphere while the paint is drying, so using eco-friendly paint will prevent this from happening. Better for your lungs and the earth!
Install energy-saving appliances
Altbaus are beloved for their large windows and high ceilings, but these charming features can also contribute to major heat loss. Installing under-floor heating is a great way to prevent this. Not only is it more cost-effective than clunky radiators, but the floors will stay lovely and warm during winter. Replacing old windows is also advantageous in lowering energy usage. Install draught-proof windows to keep the heat from escaping and your energy bill from soaring. If you really want to up your game, consider using Smart Home technology which automatically turn-off lighting, close windows, and adjust the temperature. If you're working with a smaller budget, you can simply add textiles in a rooom. Curtains and carpets make for excellent insulation, just be sure to choose long-lasting and sustainably made fabrics. Another great sustainable solution are low-flow bathroom appliances. Toilets consume up to 30% of the total water used in households, so installing dual-flush toilets (which are very common in Germany anyway) is a great place to start. You can also use low-flow shower heads to lessen the amount of water going down the drain.
Natural and LED lighting
Having a source of natural light in every room not only makes for a more comfortable atmosphere, but also saves a lot of energy. However, during the long, dark winter, electric lighting is unavoidable. While artificial lights make up a large portion of most people's energy usage, installing LED-lightbulbs is a great alternative. The bulbs let off less heat, and therefore reduce your energy consumption. You can also set up a Smart home system to turn lights on and off remotely, ensuring energy is never wasted. If you're really committed to saving on lighting, simply using light-reflecting colours (mostly whites, for example) is an easy way to make your apartment seem brighter without actually using any energy at all!
Whenever possible, it’s always better to buy locally. You’ll reduce your carbon footprint and support your community in the meantime. If you can’t find materials you need directly in your vicinity, buying domestic is still preferable. It's relatively accessible in Germany, too: check for the "Made in Germany" label when buying furniture and other home goods. You might be surprised how many things you will find! You can also look for second-hand and reclaimed goods to use while renovating your apartment. And when it’s time to decorate—don't forget to shop sustainably. Support your local furniture stores or go thrift shopping at a flea market. Items such as sinks, bathtubs, countertops, and cabinetry can be bought used. Not only will your wallet thank you, but so will the earth! For more environmentally friendly interior decorating ideas, check out our blog on sustainable interior design.
Renovate for the future
You will likely spend a lot of time and money renovating your apartment, and obviously you want your efforts to last for a long time. Longevity goes hand-in-hand with sustainability: the longer something lasts, the more waste is reduced and energy saved. Therefore, it only makes sense to be as eco-friendly as possible when renovating your home.
Unrenovated apartments in Berlin
These undeveloped apartments have lots of design potential, perfect for renovating sustainably!