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).
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.
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.