Going Green in Home Improvements

Going green when it comes to home improvements and remodeling is now being discussed on a greater level than ever before. More people are becoming conscious of the fact that the planet needs to be protected in order to be saved, and if everyone plays a part, great strides can be made in preserving the earth and its resources. As noted on MSNBC’s website, many contractors and homeowners alike are still not certain just what constitutes going green. But there are improvements that can be done to an existing home or building techniques that can be used when working on a new home to help the environment and drastically cut down on pollution and the misuse of the planet’s natural resources.

For an existing home, one of the main features that can be changed to help conserve power is the use of solar panels. They can come in the form of panels on the roof, walls or trellises. This type of system is being more widely used, and it is not unusual to see new homes going up with solar panels being used somewhere in the construction. Solar power can also be very useful for outdoor lighting. Solar lights for the outside of a property are charged by the sun’s rays during the daylight hours and automatically turn on at night without the use of electricity. The sun is the source of power for solar lights to do their job. Solar lights are available in a wide variety of styles and are a resourceful way of illuminating the exterior of a home.

There are a number of things that can be done in the interior of the house to help the planet as well. Energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators, washers and dryers, are a good way to conserve on electricity and water. Many appliances are now available with some type of energy-saving capability. Even toilets are now manufactured that cut down on the amount of water that is used. The new models of central air conditioning units are more energy-efficient as well. In fact, when looking for a new appliance for the home, it is hard to find one that does not have energy-saving ability built in. Manufacturers of large and smaller appliances are becoming more aware of conserving energy and passing that awareness on to the consumer. The Energy Star rating for energy-efficient appliances can be found on many products, with the number of products containing this rating increasing all the time.

Lighting the interior of the home with Energy Star light bulbs is another good way to conserve energy and cut down on electric bills. These bulbs last much longer than traditional bulbs and can be used in ceiling lights, table lamps, floor lamps, and other lighting fixtures throughout the house. At Energy Star, there is helpful information concerning Energy Star products that are available. This website also has advice for consumers regarding ways to make their homes more green and healthy for family members and the environment.

Another energy saver is to put lights on a timer when away from home. There is no need to have lights blazing needlessly, and when lights go on and off at a certain time, it will give the appearance of someone being home even when the house is empty. This is a deterrent to any thief who might be keeping a watch on the residence.

Yet another way to go green is to use natural cleaning products in the home. These products are safe for the planet as they are not composed of harmful fumes and chemicals. They can do a very good job of cleaning but are more gentle for individuals to use in the close confines of a house.

It is surprising how much cool air in the summer and warm air in the winter can be lost from a home’s interior through cracks around windows and doors. A home improvement that can cut down on lost air conditioning and heating is to fill in these openings, no matter how tiny, and make the home more energy-efficient. The air inside the house will stay inside the house, and air from outside will not come in unless it is meant to through an open window.

And windows bring up another home improvement topic. Old windows can be an eyesore. Properly fitting windows are not only an attractive addition to the home, but will also help to save on energy bills. And the new types of windows available now are more easy to clean, giving the homeowner more time to devote to other pursuits.

One of those other pursuits can be tending a vegetable garden, which will put the backyard to good use and supply healthy, home-grown vegetables for eating. This is a home improvement measure that can greatly benefit all family members by providing the type of food that will benefit the body and promote good health. Plus, home-grown vegetables are not subjected to pesticides that can be very harmful.

A home plagued with dry air can benefit from a humidifier, energy-efficient, of course. It will put much needed moisture back into the air and help to keep furniture from drying out. It will also make the air within the home more breathable and comfortable for the occupants. And if too much moisture and humidity in the air is a problem, an energy-saving dehumidifier will remove that extra moisture and keep harmful molds and mildew from building up within the walls of the home. This small appliance, either humidifier or dehumidifier, can do much to make the home more comfortable for all family members.

Going green is a welcome method to improve homes and the planet as well. Recycling is an important step, but there is growing awareness of the need to conserve the earth’s natural resources. People are searching for additional ways to improve the home that will benefit both the planet and its inhabitants. If everyone does their part, planet earth will prosper as a result.

Green Home Projects – Redo Your Home With Eco-Friendly Products

Are you contemplating home projects like new floors, wall painting, new appliances, bathroom fixtures, or maybe even a new roof? Then you may wish to consider using “green” home products or “eco-friendly” products and help the environment as well as your pocket. My husband and I have a huge list of home projects that need to be done on our old home. We are going to discuss our projects below and in the articles to follow. Here is what we plan to do in the future…

A New Roof — In the Meantime Fix the Leaks!

We have been slowly covering our old tar and gravel roof with Lanco White Seal. It has been an amazing process. The Lanco White Seal is white, therefore we are reaping an huge reduction in energy costs during the hot summer months. In addition, the roofing seal is allowing us breathing room so we can save for a new eco-friendly roof like a “cool roof.”

Wall Painting:

We have several rooms in our home that have not been painted for over 21 years! We finally painted one room using No VOC paint from Home Depot. We love it – it is not stinky! We plan to paint all the rooms and halls in the future with this type of paint (No VOC), researching the best deals and quality before we buy.

Redo All the Flooring:

Our wish is to redo the whole house’s flooring all at once using a “green” flooring product. We would love to use bamboo flooring, yet have been researching cork flooring and even natural linoleum. Then there is also the possibility of recycled flooring. This is a big project that will cost a lot of money, so we will be saving and researching our options.

Water Filtration:

My husband does not want to drink our city’s tap water that contains fluoride. I would prefer to drink water that has a higher PH content than what our tap water offers. We buy our water now and feel it is a huge cost as well as impact on the environment (although we do add the jugs to the recycle bin). So, a new water filtration system for our kitchen sink is really all we need. It would need to filter out impurities, fluoride and increase the PH, which is not too tall of an order. For our shower, we have been using a shower water filter unit which works fine. Although, we would like to add a water saver to it.

Even more Redo It Green Home Projects:

The above represents the “big” projects. We have a lot more on our list like buying energy saving appliances, new “green” lighting, tankless water heater system, energy saving windows and doors, and the list goes on. Yet, we did not mention the biggest home project on our list above…

Solar Panels and Wind Turbine

A dream of ours is to become “off the grid” — maybe even have the electric company pay us for a change. This would require solar panels and possibly a wind turbine added to our home. A huge project as well expense. We have to make sure we research all the possibilities and choose the best that will work for our home, climate and space.

Do you have a list of home projects? We hope you too will consider going “green” whenever possible. We know many people hesitate using green eco-friendly products because the expense seems much higher. So far, in our limited experience with these products, we have found that although the price is initially higher, we save money in the long run.

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.