Category Archives: Green living

Top 10 Green Home Improvement Upgrades, Plus Costs & ROI in 2017

This year, homeowners are more focused on renovating their houses rather than buying new. 2017 is continuing to see a hot seller’s real estate market, especially in places with booming economy like Seattle. Hot real estate markets mean that it’s often too expensive to buy a new place for many people, but it’s a great time to fix up your current home! 😉

If you can’t afford to move, but you are getting bored or frustrated with your house, a properly planned remodel can help make it feel like a brand new place! 🙂 And if you ever decide to sell your home in the future, strategically-done home improvements will help make it more desirable and attractive in the eyes of potential buyers.

solar-thermal-panels-on-a-metal-roof

No matter whether you’re remodeling to make yourself more comfortable or to entice potential buyers, it’s a no-brainer to lean towards environmentally-friendly design. Most green home remodeling projects result in huge savings on your energy bills, in addition to simply being the right thing to do for the future. And green is really in right now: a recent study found that homebuyers are willing to pay 3.46% more for a home with green features than a home without.

A lot of people are under the impression that green remodeling will cost them a fortune, but that’s not necessarily true. We’ve rounded up a set of 10 awesome (and cost-effective) green remodeling projects for your consideration. Read on to get the scoop on what goes into each project, how much each one might cost you, the kind of return on investment you can expect, and more.

1. Energy-efficient exterior doors

energy-efficient-door

Replacing an old exterior door is a great way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. If your current door is worn, cracked, or isn’t energy efficient, replacing it with an Energy Star-certified exterior door can result in a savings of as much as 10% on your costs to heat and cool your home.

To replace your door, you’ll need to first choose what kind of new door you want. While there are a variety of options, the most energy-efficient and durable kinds are fiberglass and steel.

door-energy-efficiency

Fiberglass doors are often better looking, since they more closely mimic the look of authentic wood doors. They are also ideal for harsh climates (very cold or very humid), since unlike steel, they don’t sweat when exposed to cold or moisture. However, they are more expensive than steel, and easier for intruders to break into.

Steel doors, on the other hand, are cheaper, stronger, and usually more energy efficient in temperate or hot, dry climates. However, they may not be as attractive, and they can rust if not treated properly and exposed to the elements.

Many doors come in pre-hung in a frame and pre-drilled and can be installed yourself, but if you are choosing a door that is not the exact same size as your old door, you’ll need to hire a contractor (usually a carpenter) to install the door.

In 2017, a new exterior door offers some of the very best returns on your investment. This year, the average cost of a new exterior fiberglass door, including installation, is $3,276, and tends to add an average value of $2,550 to your home, for a 77.8% ROI. The average cost of a new exterior steel door, including installation, is only $1,413, and tends to add value of $1,282, giving a whopping 90.7% ROI.

2. Non-toxic carpet

Non-toxic-Carpet via ServiceExpress.co

If you want to install or replace your carpet, you should be aware that not all new carpets are the same. A lot of new carpets and their adhesives contain chemicals called VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which are not only bad for the environment, but also dangerous to breathe in, causing a host of symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.

Still, there is an ever-widening variety of Eco-friendly, non-toxic carpet available on the market today, and there are benefits of carpet over wood or laminate floors: carpet is cheaper and provides comfort, noise damping, and – most importantly – energy conservation. They are a great way of keeping the warmth in your house in the wintertime without turning up your heater.

When picking a green carpeting solution, look for carpets labelled “low VOC” and made from natural fibers like wool, jute, seagrass, or sisal. Choose lightweight carpets without petroleum-based padding – either no padding or padding made from felt is ideal. If the carpet requires adhesive, go for water-based, low-VOC glues, or ask your carpet installer to use these eco-friendly products.

This year, new wool carpet is running about $8-$10 per square foot. Installation is typically between $2.00-$4.00 per square foot. While return on investment data is somewhat hard to find on carpet alone (as opposed to a whole room remodel), there is widespread general agreement that potential buyers are turned off by old or dirty carpet, making replacing carpet a winning resale strategy.

3. Tankless water heater

tankless-vs-tank-water-heater Via AnyHeater.com

Realtors say there is a big trend this year towards energy-efficient appliances like tankless water heaters. These eco-friendly heaters have a big initial purchase and installation cost – averaging between $2,500 and $5,000 depending on the size of your home – but also have a big immediate return on your investment: a tankless water heater immediately cuts your energy bills by about 20%. By some government estimates, well-placed tankless water heaters can cut your bills by as much as 50%.

What is a tankless water heater? It’s a water heater that heats or cools water on demand, as you need it – rather than storing a bunch of water and keeping it hot all the time. They last much longer than a traditional water heater with a tank – upwards of 20 years – and take up much less space. However, the water temperature from a tankless water heater can momentarily fluctuate if you turn the hot water on, turn it off, and then turn it right back on again – you may get either hot or cold water depending on how fast the water heater takes to catch up with you. Also, they are much more effective when installed closest to the point they’ll be needed – in kitchens and bathrooms – since they don’t have reserves of hot water and have to heat it immediately.

4. Radiant bathroom floor heating

radiant-floor-heating via BathroomHeater.org

Imagine going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, only to find that your bathroom is warm and you previously cold bathroom tile is nice and cozy beneath your feet. Radiant floor heating delivers exactly that. Homeowners and homebuyers alike consider this a luxury item, and it’s likely to impress potential buyers, adding value to your home in addition to the energy savings.

What kind of energy savings are we talking? It really depends on how hot you keep your house at night. Radiant floor heating makes a room feel warmer than it is because heat rises, and it keeps the floor feeling toasty. Consequently, you will probably feel comfortable dropping your thermostat by several degrees at night. The more you drop the temperature, the better savings you are likely to see.

There are two types of radiant floor heating: electric systems and hydronic systems (which use water for heat). For a 100 sq. ft. bathroom, expect to spend anywhere between $600 and $1200 to have it installed, depending on what brand and what kind of system you use.

The real downside to radiant floor heating is that it requires pulling up the existing bathroom floor, and it might require doing so again if you need a repair down the line. But if you are willing to pull up your old tile or are already thinking about replacing your bathroom floor, it’s a great and popular heating option.

5. Skylights

velux-skylights via VeluxUSA.com

Did you know that 40% of your home’s energy usage comes directly from all that artificial lighting? If you have a room that has no windows – common in bathrooms, and utility rooms – consider installing a skylight. Not only will the natural light from the sun reduce your energy bill substantially, but many of the newest skylights open to fresh air, reducing humidity (and the resultant mold that tends to build up in closed, moisture-prone spaces). It’s no wonder that skylights are so attractive to buyers.

According to RoofingCalc.com, the average cost to have a skylight installed is between $1,500 and $2,500, with some homeowners spending as little as $700 and some spending up to $3,500. How much the job costs depends on what kind of skylight you choose – fixed skylights that don’t open are the cheapest; ventilating skylights with remote control access are the newest, trendiest, and most expensive.

Of course, if you opt for the ventilating kind, remember that you are also letting in outdoor noise; this may not be the best choice if you live on a noisy street. And be sure to get Energy Star-certified skylights which don’t leak. VELUX America makes a solar-powered skylight, which is particularly energy-efficient and popular this year.
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Top 10 Home Improvements to Increase Home Value 2017

Planning to Sell or Refinance?  Improve Your Home First!

Some people will do home improvements because they want to live in a nicer home.  Others will complete them so that they can sell their home for a more.  Still others want to refinance, and need to increase the value to get rid of that pesky PMI.  And there are even those that are seeking a reverse mortgage soon, and they want to make sure their monthly checks are large enough.

No matter your reason, you don’t want to dump a bunch of time and money into little improvements that won’t affect the value of your house very much.  You want to focus on the top improvements to increase your home’s value.  Here are a few things that you can do.

Paint the Walls

via Gacek Design Group

Paint is still the easiest, and cheapest, way to take your home from drab to wow.  Getting rid of the boring “off-white” is a sure way to make things look fresh.  Touching up that paint that has been marred, chipped, scraped, and scuffed over the years makes the home feel new.  Just don’t get too crazy, an orange, yellow, and green living room is probably too much for potential buyers. 😉

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Off the Grid Home Ideas – Power Generation Ideas and their Costs

Now this is one that many people have dreamed about and probably rumored about 25 years ago: Off The Grid Homes. Are you familiar with such an idea? What this is is a home that is completely independent of all and any electric utilities. Ponder that, no utility bills – are you gasping? I mean, in a world driven by so much technology, I am sure you are wondering how is this possible, right? In an “off the grid” home, the individuals and the house must produce the energy that is going to power the products without utilizing cords, cables – essentially electricity. The primary areas of “concern” are normally the space heating, water heating and other forms of heat such as: washing, drying and other sorts.

spaceship-like-home-capsule

Now with that being said, there are numerous methods one can embark upon if they desire to choose this route. These ideas range from: solar power, wind and water. To be truthful, if you’re planning on making such a drastic change in your life as an off-the grid home, you should consider how much sun, rain and wind you often get – this is a common question any contractor will ask you. From living with electricity 24/7 to having to use natural means to produce energy, you may run into some challenges if you are not prepared. Now with this all in mind, let’s keep in mind that the products needed to own an off-the grid home are going to be quite pricey – as the technology for such caliber housing is advancing and is of the most advancement in house technology.

Solar Power:

crystalline-solar-panels-installation

If utilizing the solar power outlet, on average, a 24-volt system with backup generator can cost roughly $30,000-40,000 depending upon the quality and installment. I am sure you are familiar with PV solar power products as well – have you heard of crystalline solar panels or BIPV (building integrated photovoltaics) solar shingles before? Have you ever heard of solar-powered lights? It’s a thing ya’ll!

pv-solar-roof-shingles

If you happen to have a flat roof, solar panels can be angled on a flat surface to attain the optimum angle for the sun. A PVC flat roofing membrane can be an ideal choice in terms of durability and longevity for mounting solar panels on a flat roof.

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