When it comes to energy-efficiency, people usually think of the roof, insulation and renewable sources of energy and rightfully so. However, the list of elements that can improve the overall energy efficiency doesn’t end there.
Believe it or not, the floor also has a great role to play in making your home sustainable and the choice you make in terms of flooring solutions can have a great effect on the quality of life and the bills you need to pay for heating and cooling. So, let’s take a look at some flooring options that can improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Finished concrete floors
Perhaps not the most obvious choice, but still one that certainly has its advantages. To begin with, you save money on installing another flooring material, like carpet. Next, it makes use of an industrial by-product, which also means it’s eco-friendly. Finally, allergens, dust and mould are not harboured on a concrete floor, which means the indoor air quality is bound to be much better than with some more traditional solutions.
The visual aspect is important, but rest assured that a concrete floor can be turned into a stunning work of art with a little help of pigments and an expert’s magic touch. If you manage to find an experienced installer, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the options that concrete provides.
Linoleum and vinyl floors
Linoleum is back in fashion and rightfully so, because it’s manufactured with less toxic materials than vinyl, with which many people still confuse it. Truth be told, linoleum does require more maintenance and occasional polishing and it doesn’t provide the same protection like vinyl.
On the other hand, vinyl is a popular choice, but it does little to improve the energy efficiency of your home and it contains elements that are potentially dangerous, especially when it comes to children. Of course, recycled-content vinyl flooring is better than virgin material, but having so many better and healthier flooring options to choose from, there’s really no need to go with vinyl.
Another visually impressive option is bamboo. This rapidly renewable resource is a very sustainable flooring option, since bamboo matures in less than 5 years, unlike oak or cherry, which take around 50 years to mature. You can choose between two grain patterns – flat sawn or vertical grain, both offered with either a blond or caramelised finish. If you’d like to bring an exotic touch to your home, you should definitely consider bamboo.
What you have to be careful, though, is the quality and species of bamboo. Some types of bamboo won’t last long and the way to recognise a quality offer is to compare the prices. If you find an ad for some cheap bamboo, you can be pretty sure that its quality is quite low and that you’d have to reinstall another flooring option relatively soon.
The beauty and antibacterial properties of cork flooring is well-known. It’s made from recycled materials and comes from a renewable source, which makes it a perfect green solution. Cork flooring is usually made from the waste cork left over after bottle stoppers are manufactured, although the increasing demand for it has also led to raw cork being used for this purpose.
The problem you might have with cork, however, is its availability, since cork trees grow only in a very restricted area in the Mediterranean. People have tried creating cork plantations in other parts of the world with a similar climate, but with no success. Therefore, we are talking about a limited resource for the future.
If you wish to stick to carpets and rugs, make sure they are made from natural materials, such as wool or sisal. Natural wool is not necessarily the best option, since its origin influences the quality because some wool is often fumigated with an insecticide that is off the charts in terms of toxicity.
You should definitely avoid a wall-to-wall carpet, but feel free to go for something like a jute rug, since you don’t want dust, dander and other dangerous elements to build up on your floor. That will also improve the indoor air quality significantly.
As you can see, there are many solutions to choose from if you want your home to be as free from dangerous substances and elements as possible. Which one you choose will depend on your taste, budget and the climate you live in. Still, whichever you choose, you can be sure that you’ve done a great thing for the health of your whole family.