Handyman: Try green products for remodeling, cleaning

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

Green isn’t just a color you can paint a room with; it is also the focus for many people when they are buying products for the home. The amount of environmentally conscious products on the market today has boomed, so there are always green options available whenever you build, update or clean your home.

While building a green home is popular in states like California, Oregon and Washington, it hasn’t quite taken hold here in Michigan.

“Certainly the upgrade in the state’s building code a few years ago makes today’s new homes much greener from the energy perspective, but otherwise most of your big builders aren’t adding a lot of green features in their homes,” said Mike Stoskopf, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan,

Stoskopf said the big reason home builders aren’t adding green features is that home buyers can’t justify the costs.

“Green upgrades like a geo-thermal system will take homeowners seven to 10 years to pay back the upfront cost, and the family may not even be in the house that long,” he said. “Instead, take that money and add granite countertops or a home theater system to enjoy right away.”.

Stokopf said commercial builders are adding green features because they are looking at the long-term cost savings, but for the residential market homeowners often consider adding green products when they update their home.

And there are plenty of environmentally friendly products to choose from when remodeling.

For starters, making energy efficient decisions by adding insulation, installing a programmable thermostat, buying Energy Star appliances, getting a new high efficiency furnace or installing energy efficient windows helps you use less energy, which is one of the most important things we can do to be green.

Paint manufacturers are also among the leaders these days in offering environmentally conscious products, specifically in the drive to eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from their paints. All the major paint brands market zero-VOC paints, including Behr,; Benjamin Moore,; Glidden,; Pittsburgh Paints,; Sherwin Williams,; and Valspar,

If you are buying new flooring, you can consider Earth-friendly options such as bamboo, cork or leather floors. Bamboo and cork are renewable materials, and leather floors are made from 100 percent recycled leather. Torlys,, manufacturers both cork and leather flooring, and Cali Bamboo,, makes bamboo flooring.

There are also environmentally friendly countertop products available when you are remodeling the kitchen, such as PaperStone,, that is manufactured from a sustainable composite material made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper, phenolic resins and natural pigments.

There are many items that can be reused when remodeling, including light fixtures, faucets and cabinets. You can find old, reusable home products at places like Materials Unlimited in Ypsilanti,

You can use Simple Green to clean your kitchen and bath areas, along with other green household cleaning products from Mrs. Meyer’s,, and Seventh Generation,

Steam cleaning is another way to be environmentally conscious because you can clean without using any harsh chemicals or cleaners. Some of the more popular brands of portable steam cleaners include Bissell,, Haan,, and Shark,

While you may not want to spend thousands on a geothermal heat pump, small wind turbine or solar energy system for your home, there are still plenty of ways to join the green revolution whenever your remodel or clean that won’t break the bank. Now that is not only environmentally conscious, it is smart.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege” on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.