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Which Eco Upgrades are Worth the Investment?

Which Eco Upgrades are Worth the Investment?

Once upon a time, eco-friendly home upgrades were only found in the homes of hardcore environmentalists, who were willing to pay a high price to give Mother Earth a little TLC.

These days, however, as green technology improves and the popularity of such upgrades creates significantly lower prices, many eco upgrades can both save homeowners money in the short term and significantly increase home resale value in the long run.

Here are just a few upgrades sure to provide both an eco and monetary return on investment (ROI).

1. Flooring

One of the best ways to go green with your home upgrades is to replace your floors with sustainable materials like bamboo or cork, which are in turn more sustainably grown, durable, sound absorbing and insect-resistant than traditional long-growth hardwood floors.

Regardless of whether or not a prospective buyer is green-minded, replacing scratched, chipped, warped and moldy flooring or carpeting is sure to significantly increase resale value.

2. Energy efficient windows

Your old windows might be “charming”, but they account for about one-third of a home’s total heat loss.

In fact, the EPA states the average home can save between $146 and $501 and about 1,200 – 3,800 pounds of CO2 per year simply by replacing single-paned windows with more energy efficient options, and about half that much when replacing double-pane, clear glass windows

Your best option is to go with Low-E windows, which employ metallic coated glass to reflect heat and sunlight according to the demands of any given climate. With Low-E windows, you’ll see immediate savings on your energy bills, and you just may add between 65% – 76% to the resale value of your home.

3. Low-flow faucets and toilets

Ever wanted to save up to 15 percent on your water bill? Installing low-flow faucets and toilets is a sure bet for reducing consumption and, in some cases, also lowering demands on water heaters. As a guide, look for the EPA-issued WaterSense label, which denotes products that provide significant water savings.

On average, most homeowners will make back between 65% and 75% of bathroom remodeling costs, particularly when green updates are combined with broader renovations, like updating sinks and redoing tiling.

4. Efficient appliances

Whether you’re looking to sell your home tomorrow or you plan on keeping camp for the next several years, energy efficient appliances will provide immediate savings, and according to one survey, they’re something up to 18% of potential home buyers would pay more for.

Your best bet is to start by replacing the biggest energy consumers: the dishwasher, dryer and refrigerator. Look for the EPA’s Energy Star label throughout your hunt for an easy to understand energy cost comparison of all potential purchases.

5. Motion sensor lights

It doesn’t matter how high those energy bills go, for most of us, turning off lights is just too difficult to remember. How many times have you come home late from work only to find every light in the house ablaze while your family snuggles into a single room? Cut energy consumption quickly and cheaply with motion sensor lights, which can cost as little as $20 at most hardware stores.

While most buyers won’t immediately notice this change, proper lighting strategically placed to highlight a home’s best features will subconsciously improve a potential buyer’s impression of your home.

Take-Away

While many eco-upgrades are worth it from an environmental perspective, there are many more that are worth it financially, too. In today’s tight housing market, investing in green features up front can mean the difference between an instant sale and a house that stays on the market for years. Do your research and choose wisely, and you’re sure to save money and even make a fair bit, too, when you sell your house down the line.

This article was written with help from Tali Wee, the Houston Community Manager at Zillow.

Related:
10 Worst Home Trends of the Decade
10 Not-So-Green Home Trends

Read more: Eco-friendly tips, Green, Health & Safety, Home, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse

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Adria Saracino

Adria Saracino is the Head of Outreach at Distilled, an Internet marketing agency, where she connects businesses and helps them establish meaningful partnerships. You can also find Adria talking and tweeting about fashion through her blog, The Emerald Closet.

39 comments

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9:07PM PDT on Apr 8, 2013

Great tips. I learn a lot about those kind of upgrades in home. Actually, I am planning to hire a Home Builders in Denver to build my dream home. I hope that they will made the best home for me.

http://www.kbhome.com/new-homes-denver

6:50AM PST on Dec 17, 2012

Thank you for the helpful checklist and information!

12:18PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Toilet replacements are exceedingly cost effective, especially if you are replacing one of those old 3.5 or 5.0 gallon water wasters! The best new toilets to purchase are those with the WaterSense label, but you can go one step further and get the best of the best as to flush performance!

When considering the purchase of a WaterSense toilet and in order to get the best performing model, definitely check out Maximum Performance (MaP) testing. Go to http://www.map-testing.com for the up-to-date listings of flush performance data and design information on 1,600+ different WaterSense toilet models from 80 different brands!!….all independently tested by laboratories NOT connected to any manufacturer. Click on ‘MaP Search’ to use the free search tool OR download complete product listings. Both standard efficiency and WaterSense High-Efficiency Toilets (HETs) have been tested and are identified. CHECK IT OUT!

MaP was developed in 2003 by the water utility industry to give consumers a means to compare flush performance among all the many toilets that are available in the marketplace.

12:17PM PST on Dec 11, 2012

Toilet replacements are exceedingly cost effective, especially if you are replacing one of those old 3.5 or 5.0 gallon water wasters! The best new toilets to purchase are those with the WaterSense label, but you can go one step further and get the best of the best as to flush performance!

When considering the purchase of a WaterSense toilet and in order to get the best performing model, definitely check
out Maximum Performance (MaP) testing. Go to http://www.map-testing.com for the up-to-date listings of flush performance data and design information on 1,600+ different WaterSense toilet models from 80 different brands!!….all independently tested by laboratories NOT connected to any manufacturer. Click on ‘MaP Search’ to use the free search tool OR download complete product listings. Both standard efficiency and WaterSense High-Efficiency Toilets (HETs) have been tested and are identified. CHECK IT OUT!

MaP was developed in 2003 by the water utility industry to give consumers a means to compare flush performance among all the many toilets that are available in the marketplace.

1:47PM PST on Dec 9, 2012

Thanks I am ready for new windows only 5 to replace but one is really big and hard to find.

2:44PM PST on Dec 8, 2012

Anything is good and start growing your own fruit and veg because the prices are going to go through the roof and some foods are becoming not healthy to eat thanks to GMO.

9:18AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

Thank you everyone for your kind comments.

@Trish - great comments, and great to see you on the Care2 community :)

@Dianne - I hadn't heard about this, but will keep a lookout!

@Juliet - great insights about also thinking how far your materials travel. There's a great infographic here with more about this topic! http://www.care2.com/greenliving/why-buy-local.html

6:53AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

I'd like to see a lot more bamboo flooring, wallboard, and other products on the market. It grows well in the Southern states, so there's not need to have the carbon footprint of shipping it from Asia!

5:53AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

I have done a few of these. Perhaps I will look into installing motion sensing lights (even though I am usually pretty good about turning them off... I do occasionally miss something).

1:05AM PST on Dec 7, 2012

Roof insulation is one of the best and cheapest investments you can make.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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