Ask Renee: Make old homes sustainable and green 

Keeping green with Insulation, heating, energy, electricity, contractors

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I am restoring an old house in Cottage Home. Do you have any advice for finding materials and contractors to maximize sustainability and efficiency for an old house?

For instance, what is the best insulation to use? 

What is the best heating system for a small (1,000 sq. ft.) house?

Is there a listing of residential contractors who have proven track records for green building practices? 

How do I know when the materials or methods are truly sustainable and not just "greenwashing"?



Congrats on the new old digs.

Are you familiar with LEED? It stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and is the most widely used certification for green buildings. The U.S. Green Building Council administers the LEED program and has an Indiana chapter with members ranging from students to top-level professionals. Search the USGBC Indiana member list to find a certified contractor to help with your restoration.

You might also find some of IPL’s home energy savings tools and resources to be useful as you sort through your energy efficiency options.

When it comes to insulation, in addition to the rating and type, also look for post-consumer content. Indiana-based Knauf Insulation has a few green options with more than 50% recycled glass content – and it’s manufactured in Shelbyville, IN. Depending on how your house is built, you might benefit from the services of Indiana Crawl Space Repair*, a top-rated contractor who provides crawl space insulation and other services that will improve the efficiency of your home.

As for heating, there are several factors you need to consider, like size, efficiency and fuel. A trusted professional should be able to walk you through your options to make the best choice. You might look into a geothermal system from WaterFurnace* for your heating, cooling and hot water.

Piece out,

*I manage a program for Hoosier Environmental Council called HEC Green Business and am very proud to promote these businesses who are good stewards of the environment and support the mission of HEC.

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About The Author

Renee Sweany

Renee Sweany

Renee has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. She began writing “Ask Renee” after four years of offering green tips through her e-newsletter Green Piece Indy. E-mail her your green living queries at

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