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.

Copyright 2008 by ABCD Publishing

Get Rebates for Home Improvement

In Australia, no good deed goes unrewarded, particularly good deeds related to environmentally friendly home improvement.

The Australian government, in order to promote greener homes, offers rebates that help residents offset the cost of making improvements to their homes that increase their energy efficiency, make better use of water resources or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other things. Rebates may vary from state to state and by municipality throughout Australia.

Here’s a few of the home improvement projects that may be eligible for a government rebate:

  • The Solar Homes and Communities Plan provides rebates for certain households with incomes less than $100,000 per year to install solar panels for home energy. The subsidy comes nowhere near the cost of installing the panels, but can help folks save a little on the cost of undertaking this project
  • Insulation rebates provide an added financial incentive for improving your home by installing more insulation. Insulation can help reduce power bills by keeping heat and cold out, thus lowering your energy use for climate control within your home. An estimated 2.5 million homes in Australia are under-insulated, and while the Commonwealth Government insulation scheme no longer applies, various state benefits may.
  • Rainwater recycling rebates are available for residents who install equipment that allows them to capture, treat and use rainwater. Rebates vary from area to area in Australia. For example, in Western Australia, homeowners can get a rebate of up to $600 or half the cost of a rainwater tank that’s 2,000 litres or more. In Queensland, the Home Water Wise Rebate Scheme provides rebates of up to $1,000 for the cost of purchasing rainwater tanks, pumps and diverters and having them installed.
  • Energy audits can be obtained for $30 in the Australian Capital Territory. The fee pays for a professional to come to your home and make suggestions on how it can be made more energy efficient. Homeowners who take up one of the professional’s suggestions can receive up to a $500 rebate for work done in a related improvement that costs at least $2,000. The homeowner must let the State government monitor their power bills for one year after the improvement to see how much more effective the home improvement measures have proven to be.

While these government rebates won’t cover the whole cost of greening your home, they will make green home improvement more attractive to homeowners.