Green Home Improvement Tips

These days, everyone wants to do their part to help the environment and cut down on waste. There are many obvious ways to do this, such as recycling or buying a hybrid car. There are other less obvious ways that can make a big impact. One of the best ways to conserve energy and, as a result, save money in the long run, is by doing a green home renovation. While this may seem like a daunting undertaking, with the right planning, it can be a relatively stress-free project that results in both measurable and non-measurable benefits.

To begin with, it is important to have a plan. Green home improvement differs from basic home repair because you are working toward an ultimate goal of making your home more efficient and environmentally friendly. It is advisable to work with a green contractor who has experience with this specific kind of renovation. The contractor can help you decide if you may need a drastic overhaul to achieve optimal conservation, or if a few small changes will suffice. A simple step towards going green is switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and installing motion detectors and timers that keep lights off when they are not needed.

A more involved way of making a home eco-friendly is by installing a new HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). Your contractor can help you install a system that optimizes the space you have, with the most efficient use of energy. When installing a new HVAC system, it is important to keep in mind the climate that you live and the needs of your home.

It is also advisable to think green when selecting the products that you will use in your renovation. Not all materials are created equal, as many contain products that are harmful to the environment. Try to stick to products that are long-lasting, and contain recycled material that is eco-friendly. Also, by selecting products that are durable, you avoid having to replace them, and as such, are able to cut down on waste. Many green products can be found in home improvement stores, so be sure to some research before committing to a brand.

Window replacement is another way to conserve energy and cut down on costs. By installing windows with better insulation, you are reducing the amount of heat or air-conditioning that is wasted and your home is better able to heat or cool itself using natural resources. This is a significant way to reduce energy bills, since your home is more efficient and requires less energy to maintain.

Lastly, it is important to remember that maintaining a green home is an ongoing commitment. Be conscious of using eco-friendly cleaning products and other materials. Make sure to keep water use to a minimum, and always turn off electronics and appliances when not in use. While it is difficult to change old habits, it is vital that we all do our best to conserve resources and help our environment.

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Green Home Improvements And Property Values – Mutually Exclusive?

The environment has garnered a great deal of attention over the past few years, which has led many homeowners to make improvements on their homes that help reduce their impact on the environment. This shift in focus has led to an unfortunate battle with some Home Owners Associations across the country.

Homeowners’ associations, or HOA’s, are much like mini government entities that oversee the maintenance and the selling of homes in a particular community. These organizations make decisions on behalf of the entire community, and enforce rules that all homeowners in the area must abide by. These rules have been chosen with property values in mind, and if a homeowner refuses to adhere to these guidelines, they can be evicted by the HOA.

Green home improvements are controversial in HOA communities. Green changes such as solar paneling can take away from the aesthetics of a home and therefore drop the property value of that home and the homes around it. Many HOA’s have in fact outlawed solar panels despite their environmental benefit, because of the risk they pose in terms of property value.

Some states, such as California, have reacted by making it illegal for HOA’s to block the use of solar paneling.

Hanging clothes out to dry is one of the most talked about green improvement issues. Many HOA’s around the country have banned the use of outdoor drying racks due to their unsightly nature. Again, if something isn’t attractive, it must be removed, no matter what benefit it offers. Homeowners have been outraged by this, particularly in the southern states, where they don’t want to run their dryer on hot summer days. The extra heat and the wasted electricity are two reasons that this rule is unreasonable, but HOA’s are focused on the bottom line, and on maintaining a certain image for their community.

Even something as small as placing a fan in the front window can be a bone of contention for HOA’s Despite the heat, and despite the effects on the environment, homeowners must use air conditioners to cool themselves down, simply to avoid giving their home a lived-in look.

For owners of historic homes, the battle can be even bigger. Homeowners must get improvements approved of before going ahead, or they face hefty fines and even eviction. HOA’s in historical areas want to keep properties harmonious with each other, and true to their time period. Adding energy efficient window panes or solar paneling to reduce energy bills are simply out of the question. Modern adjustments would reduce the value of the property, so these improvements are actually seen as a detriment to the whole community.

If you want to make green improvements to your home, you must either move to an area where you won’t be dictated to by an HOA, or else fight the powers that be, and try to create a more democratic and environmentally responsible system that all members of the community can live with.

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Green Home Improvements: Take Advantage of Tax Credits for Energy-Saving Home Improvements

Green home improvements have been encouraged in recent years through the offering of tax incentives. For people interested in making their homes more energy efficient and gaining the tax benefits at the same time, here are some tips to help you understand what types of green home improvements qualify for a tax credit and how to make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to earn your benefit.

Some green home tax credits are expiring at the end of 2010. Although we are approaching year-end, there is still time to take advantage of some of these money-saving incentives for energy-saving home improvements, but you must hurry.

Tax credits are offered on a wide range of green home improvements and upgrades. Some are very inexpensive to do; other can be quite costly even with the tax credit. Here is a summary of what is available for 2010.

The simplest and least expensive energy-saving home improvement that qualifies is adding insulation. Insulation for your attic can be purchased for no more than $50 to $100, and if you install it yourself (which is fairly easy and straightforward to do) there is no additional cost. This will earn you a tax credit of 30% of the cost.

For more expensive investments, tax credits of 30% of the cost, up to a maximum credit of $1500, are available now for the purchase and installation energy efficient furnaces and air conditioning units, energy efficient windows and doors, and water heaters. The credit includes the cost of materials and also the cost of installation for all these items except for the installation on doors and windows (don’t ask me why windows and doors are excluded; it makes no sense, but that is the law).

It is important to remember that these tax credits apply only to your primary residence. Second homes and rental homes and apartments do not qualify for the items listed above.

But I have saved the best part for last. There are even better tax benefits available for rooftop solar panel arrays, small residential wind turbines, and geothermal heat pump systems. For these specific green home improvements, the tax credit covers 30% of all costs, including installation without any upper limit. Even better, for these specific energy-saving investments the tax benefits can be claimed for your primary residence and second homes. Unlike the previous cases, new constructions are also okay. And get this: these government-provided subsidies are not expiring at the end of 2010. Tax credits for solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps are available through the year 2016.

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Quick and Easy Green Home Improvements

Many homeowners are looking for quick and easy green home improvements. Whether you want to make these improvements for the sake of going green or you want to do some things before placing a home on the market that will make it more competitive with new homes, there are plenty of options.

Joining the green revolution will make your home more comfortable, less costly to heat and cool, and some changes will reduce your water and/or sewer bill. Many of these improvements will also make your home more comparable to newer homes on the market. This might or might not justify an increase in selling price. While these quick and easy green home improvements might appeal to home buyers who have a strong interest in a green home, it might not matter to other prospective buyers when they make an offer. If, however, you make available a record of your utility bills for the last year, showing a decrease in heating, cooling and water costs could be attractive to a buyer.

The top seven quick and easy green home improvements that are also economical are:

1. Switch to energy efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs cost a bit more when you buy them, but they will last years longer and use only a fraction of the energy. Start with the lights you tend to use for the longest period of time – like the kitchen light that is never turned off or the bathroom light the kids just can’t remember to turn off. If you are planning to put your home on the market, you might want to start with bulbs in permanent light fixtures.

2. Install insulating/reflective window coverings. Film window coverings are available in several levels of light and UV ray blockage and colors. You can choose different textures and colors depending on the amount of direct sunlight on various windows. The window film is available in most hardware and home improvement stores, and it is easy to install.

3. Install weather stripping on doors and window frames. Weather stripping is relatively inexpensive and it is easy to install on window frames and door frames. It will reduce the amount of heat exchange by sealing up cracks or openings. This will make your home more comfortable, more energy efficient, and more environmentally friendly.

4. Install low flow shower heads and faucets. Most homeowners can install new shower heads and faucets or affordably hire a handyman to do it. These faucets and shower heads use less water without blocking adequate water flow. They will save water and reduce your water and sewer bills.

5. Adjust the float in the toilet tank to use less water. This is a fairly simple adjustment that can be accomplished by most homeowners or a handyman. If you can’t adjust it, try putting something in the bottom of the tank that will displace some of the water. Just be sure that what you use won’t rust and won’t get in the way of the working of the flushing mechanism.

6. Insulate the hot water distribution pipes in your home. This is also a relatively inexpensive and easy job of wrapping the pipes that go from the hot water heater to the various plumbing fixtures (kitchen, bathrooms). Keeping the water warmer as it moves through the pipes will provide warmer water and it will reduce the amount of water you have to run from a faucet while you wait for the hot water to get there.

7. Install insulating or reflective window treatments. Install reflective blinds or shades at your windows. Then be sure to close them at times when the sun shines on them directly or during the warmest part of the day. This will reduce your heating/cooling bills.

Try these seven steps to make some quick and easy green home improvements. The money you will save on utility bills will probably pay for the improvements very quickly.

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