6 Home Updates for Greener, Healthier Living

We recently had a chance to discuss an important, but not necessarily sexy topic -- healthy home updates -- with TV host and carpenter Ty Pennington of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition . . . and who better to make mold-resistant products seem sexy than the hunk himself? A home improvement expert and a guest speaker at next week's Dwell on Design convention in LA, Pennington has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything from building supplies to home technology, but there are a few innovative updates he really raves about. Read on below his top recommendations.ty_header
b5_catherinekwongdesign_jacksonsquare_by-bess-friday_04 WATER AND AIR: "For me, it's not just about green living, it's living in a healthy environment," Pennington says. "A lot of people don't think about the quality of their water and air, but they're what keeps us alive." Pennington recommends purchasing mold-resistant drywall and installing a water filtration system in your home. For renters, Pennington suggests purchasing a portable HEPA water filter, which cleans the air, but can be taken with you when you move.
ipad_Desk SMART TECH: "These days an iPad device can control everything from temperature to blinds to media, and you can have a home that really works for the way you live," Pennington says. The home-building expert is currently installing AT&T's Digital Life in his own home: "Everything is going to be controlled: blinds, climate, electricity, security -- everything." These new technologies maximize the efficiency of your home, allowing you to remotely control and monitor your home's energy and water, so you're only using what you need.
12 WINDOW WISDOM: "SageGlass is one company I'm really excited about," Pennington shares. "They make this incredibly cool glass that's electronically tintable; so it protects your home and so it doesn't have to work as hard to heat and cool." This dynamic glass allows you to control sunlight -- who knew that could be done?! -- without blinds or shades.
bamboo_floors FLOOR YOURSELF: For healthy flooring, Pennington's recommends renewable bamboo floors. "Not only are they eco-friendly," he says, "but they also create a cleaner environment because there's not as much dust as carpet."
DesignChaser RAISE THE HEAT: Where water is concerned, Pennington's raves about hybrid solar water heaters which "kick in enough power to heat your water, but then also hold the heat," he says. Getting heat from the sun and also recovering waste heat, this new technology is not only efficient and eco-friendly, but it's also cost-effective.
Achica THE GAME-CHANGER: "Spray foam insulation is really the next big thing," Pennington says. "It's become so economically feasible, and unlike fiberglass, it seals every nook and cranny. It's pretty phenomenal the difference between both." Spray foam, he says, gives your home a more controlled, air-tight environment, allowing you to precisely control the temperature, since you're not losing air or taking in heat through air pockets in your home's insulation.
Los Angeles dwellers, don't miss Ty Pennington next week at the Dwell on Design convention, where he'll be a special guest speaker. Photographs: 1 Courtesy of Ty Pennington, 2. Catherine Kwong (designer and source), 3. Glitter Guide, 4. Chris Patey for Domaine, 5. Love Nordic, 6. via The Design Chaser, 7. via Achica Living