In these days many people are struggling just to keep their homes and fewer people are buying and selling. If you are in a position of deciding to keep your home and remodel and/or enlarge or sell and move-up or even downsize, then here are some options to consider.
Let me just say first, hate to admit it but I am not an environmentalist, I don't drive a hybrid and I'm not even good at recycling my own trash. I approach this as a real estate expert that has learned a thing or two and have been drawn to the green-side. If I could wave a wand right now, I would replace my cars with hybrids and have solar panels on my roof and cut my energy costs to zero. But I'll have to take baby steps for now.
Going green when you purchase a home or remodel refers to buying or installing more energy efficient appliances, windows, lighting and generally saving resources, both yours and the planets. In the best case, installing solar panels or recapturing resources allows you to live cheaper and in some cases healthier. Many of these improvements can directly increase your homes market value or could be the difference in getting your home sold. A qualified appraiser can tell you in advance what improvements will add most value.
Here are some ideas that can save you money on energy costs and may add value. . .
Energy efficient appliances can lower your electric and water bills and can add real value if you sell or refinance. The monthly energy saving can even help recoup the cost of the appliance over time. Also, some energy companies offer cash rebates to further increase your savings.
Energy efficient furnace and air condition units. In some climates an air conditioner compressor can be running year round and having a new energy efficient unit with programmable thermostat can save big money and properly sealed ducts can make sure the air is going where it's needed and most efficient. A balanced system will be airtight but allow for proper ventilation and allow unhealthy air out.
Dual pane e-rated windows save money, look and operate better and as an added bonus shut out unwanted noise from your neighbors or street noise. A good e-rated window will be cool to the touch even when it's over 100 degrees outside. Some neighborhoods near airports have offered grants to help homeowners cope with noise.
Replacing conventional lights with fluorescent bulbs and exterior lights with solar powered can cut lighting costs by over 60%. Most conventional lights can be readily replaced with compact fluorescent lights aka CFL right away and many energy companies will offer full rebates to offset the cost. Also, there is less heat from fluorescent and thus less cooling costs.
Solar panels can be installed on the roof in sunny climates and actually make your electric meter stop or reverse during the day and then the stored power is used at night with a net zero cost. In homes I have appraised, owners have told me their electricity cost is between zero and $30 from a peak of nearly $300. There are government rebate programs, state programs and local power rebates bringing the cost down considerably and paying for itself. I will be installing these panels on my next house.
These next few ideas are becoming more popular. Concrete counter tops in the kitchen. They can look like granite and are poured & crafted on site with no quarry, no trucking, no factory and the raw costs are in the $30 range. My brother in-law did his kitchen with a beveled edge for $28 and it looked beautiful, he then did both bath's with a 2"squared edge. I have seen many luxury homes and hotel lobbies with colored or stained concrete floors, looks good and is durable. Also, using renewable natural products reduces toxic formaldehyde used in many adhesives.
There are several outdoor projects as well. Wood decks can now be built with recycled plastics that last longer and are bug and weather resistant and is a renewable resource. I have seen them and think they look better than redwood decks because they are always in perfect condition, never weathered, twisted or rotted.
Drip irrigation vs. sprinklers helps drastically reduce water waste. In Las Vegas new homes are required to use drip irrigation and in fact, grass in front yards has been eliminated on virtually all new construction. Not the most pleasant looking to me but I get the point - there is only so much water in the middle of the desert and yard water typically uses more than all the total water used inside.
So, there you go. Just doing the research has won me over to be just a little more “green" in my thinking. You can improve your home, save money, live healthier and help the planet as a bonus.
Please call me if I can be of any appraisal service to you or your clients.
Clifford Diamond, CREA