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How to “Go Green” With Home Improvements

Have we successfully carried our passion for the environment into our home energy choices? Check out these green home improvement ideas!


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Tuesday, 26 June 2012

green_home_improvementsOver the past twenty years, Americans have made significant changes in how they view the environment.  They’ve started taking recycling seriously, stopped using plastic shopping bags and started purifying their own water.  Businesses have become “green” by reducing pollutants, making sustainable products and working with eco-friendly vendors.  But what about homeowners?  Have we successfully carried our passion for the environment into our home energy choices?

If you are stuck with a traditional energy company for your electricity, you may have a choice of energy suppliers.  Find out what the options are for selecting one that uses wind power to generate energy.  On the other hand, if you have the option to build a home from the ground up or retrofit an existing building, you will be able to choose green energy products or install solar panels.

Selfish benefits of going green

You may have heard that installing custom cabinetry and granite countertops are the key to adding resale value to your home. However, in today’s housing market the more practical upgrades are making the biggest difference in home prices.  In fact, analysts are starting to advise homeowners to make eco-friendly improvements first, before spending thousands on landscaping, kitchens and flooring.

Many green home improvements are helping homeowners save money on monthly utility bills.  For example, studies have shown that utility bills are the single largest monthly expense in most households.  When a green home improvement can lower those bills by as much as 30 percent, it can save the average American homeowner approximately $500 per year, or even more if you live in a region with extreme temperature changes.  This is real money that can be used to buy furniture, added to the college fund or spent on a tropical getaway.

Sell your home faster

Green homes are known to sell much faster than comparable homes that lack the latest energy efficient upgrades.  When a prospective homeowners knows that a certain home will come with lower utility bills and less dependence on fossil fuels, they will often put that home on the top of their list.

It’s always much easier to buy a home with solar panels or sustainable building products than it is to make these renovations later.  According to the United States Department of Energy and their Office of Energy Efficiency, homes with solar panels are sold twice as fast as homes without them, even in a lackluster real estate market.

Green home building

When you choose to move forward with solar power, it’s important to have a full understanding of how your solar energy supply will be used as this will determine the size of the system you will need to install.  Knowing this ahead of time will save you from disappointment later on when you realize the panels will not produce the amount of power you need.  The amount of power you generate through solar panels may depend somewhat on the weather patterns where you live, but fortunately you no longer need a string of sunny days to keep the system running.

Like any other addition to your property, solar panels must be installed in accordance to local laws.  Be sure you know what these are before you meet with a contractor.  Depending on where you live, the system may need to be inspected to be sure the power system is acceptable. In addition to weather-stripping and insulation, these techniques may reveal the need for new windows or doors.

Making your home more energy efficient

Another important way to make your home more “green” is to have a Home Performance Evaluation performed. Think of it as an inspection of your home’s energy flaws, and as the first step toward improving the comfort and efficiency of your home.  The main reason a homeowner gets this evaluation is to target the source of energy leakages.

Using infrared cameras that can see heat passage, inspectors can find out where additional insulation may be needed.  Another method is to depressurize the inside of your home by using a large fan that causes air to rush into any gap or crack.  Known as a “blower door,” it simulates a strong gust of wind in order to locate potential drafts.

Verify the results

If you ever want to prove to yourself the importance of proper insulation, the best way to do it is by comparing your utility bills.  Look at a full year of energy bills after the improvements are complete and keep them in a file with the old bills.  Being able to show this may enable you sell your home faster one day.

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