Extreme Green Home Improvements

Many homeowners are trying to go green with their home improvements. Once they have done the fast and simple upgrades and the improvements that can make a big difference without breaking the bank, they are ready to start thinking about extreme green home improvements.

Extreme green home improvements are costly and our research shows that these home improvements only appeal to a specific group of buyers. So before assuming that making costly and extreme green improvements, you should do your research on the return on investment for these upgrades in your region. This research can take some of the risk out of the investment. But it is still a gamble.

Some of the extreme green improvements that you might consider are:

Installing photovoltaic cells to generate electricity. Everyone has heard about the merits of using solar power to generate electricity. The initial cost of installing the cells and the equipment to convert the power to electricity for use in the home can be significant. That cost will, however, be recovered over time.

Installing all new windows with triple glazing and UV reflective coatings. The best windows available at this time for their insulating value are triple-glazed windows with gas between the panes and the highest level UV reflective coatings. Installed throughout a home, this can be a costly upgrade. But their value will be immediately clear in comfort within the home and utility cost savings over time.

Switching to a solar water heating system. The cost of a solar water heating system will be higher than traditional electric or gas models. You can expect to recover the cost in water heating savings over just a few years.

Installing a geothermal heating and cooling system. Geothermal heating and cooling systems are very expensive to install and require a certain amount of ground space for installation. They can, however, be placed either horizontally or vertically in the ground. Because they use the constant temperature of the earth, they result in significantly lower energy bills.

Switch all appliances to the highest-rated energy efficiency models. The technology to build more energy-efficient appliances seems to improve almost every year. Replacing older appliances can result in less energy use and lower operating costs.

Install a high-efficiency metal roof. New metal roofing materials are well-insulated and extremely durable. Although the metal roof might cost a little bit more at installation, it will last far longer than shingles or shakes, and it will provide better insulation for your home.

Each of these extreme green home improvements will be costly. On the other hand, all of these improvements will result in significant savings on utility bills. Although they might not pay for themselves in a year or two, you should be able to expect to recover the cost in lower utility bills over time.

While extreme green home remodeling might not be right for every homeowner, it might be right for you. These upgrades probably will not increase the value of your home significantly in terms of resale, but they will certainly make the home more comfortable for your family and more energy efficient.

Green Home Improvements That Pay

Here are some green remodeling projects that will actually put money back into your wallet while making your life a little easier at the same time.

Installing High Efficiency Windows

The new generation of energy efficient windows can cut your energy costs by as much as a whopping 50% annually, which means they will literally pay for themselves in a few short years.

If you are in the market for new windows you need to be looking for multiple paned windows, low e coatings, insulated frames and gas fills.

You should also keep in mind that good installation is every bit as important when it comes to achieving the highest possible levels of energy efficiency so make sure you are dealing with a reputable window installation company you can trust.

Installing A High Efficiency Heating System

This is another green improvement that can save you a small fortune on energy bills as well as help the environment by cutting down on fuel consumption. Look for a heating system that has AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) ratings of 90 or better and, again, remember that a poor installation job will sabotage all your efforts and investment.

Get New Kitchen Appliances

Just because that ten year old refrigerator can still do its job does not mean that it should. The new breed of Energy Star rated dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines and clothes dryers can help you score up to $500 in extra energy savings for every year that they are on the job.

Go Low Flow

Wasting water is as bad as wasting energy and the average home still wastes a lot of it. Low flow toilets and showers will help to reduce your water usage a lot and the newest models are every bit as efficient as their water guzzling older counterparts. How much water can you save? A lot. For example, just the simple act of installing a low flow shower head can cut your water bill by a third.

Insulate, Insulate and Insulate Some More

All the high efficiency windows, heating systems and appliances in the world are not much good if your home is not properly insulated. Leaky windows and doors, and poorly insulated attic spaces are some of the most common causes of energy inefficient homes, so those are good places to start.

To be truly sure that your home is up to speed consider calling in a professional to conduct a full energy audit and help you determine where and how you should be adding extra insulation.

All of these are great measures and many of them come with an extra added bonus – tax rebates and allowances. Make sure you ask about all of them when you are making your purchases and then actually remember to file for them when tax time comes around!

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.