Easy and Affordable: “Going Green” at Home

Green living isn’t limited to big projects like installing solar panels. There are simple and affordable ways to go green. The best part: Green living may also save money and make your home more comfortable. Here are three suggestions:

Use green products: All that seems “green” isn’t necessarily so; “green labels” aren’t regulated. So always check ingredients of cleaning products, paint, sealers, and even windows before buying. Many well-known manufacturers now offer green products (particularly house paint) with low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some VOCs can be damaging to human health.

Reduce reuse recycle: It’s not just a slogan; there are lots of ways to make easy, everyday changes that can have an impact:

Wherever possible, purchase products and materials made from recycled materials.

Use reusables, such as washable cups and plates, instead of paper or foam, and washable rags instead of paper towels. Also reuse-don’t toss-plastic containers, glass jars, and paper or plastic bags.

Add compostable leftovers from meals to a compost pile for richer soil and a reduction in food waste. But check what’s compostable and what isn’t. Try:Sustainable Baby Steps

Find home products, like flooring, porch posts, countertops, cabinets, doors, and light fixtures at salvage yards and Habitat for Humanity ReStores.

Insulate and energize: Green homes are energy-efficient, and there are many energy savvy products available now to make your home green-many of which can be installed with tools you already have. Consider:

  • Having boilers/furnaces professionally cleaned.
  • Insulating water heaters and hot water pipes.
  • Looking for Energy Star labels on appliances and electronics, such as TVs.
  • Installing energy-efficient lighting and programmable thermostats.
  • Checking attics and home exteriors for leaks and torn insulation.

Your Home Buyers Now Look Beyond Bling to Basic

If you want to recoup your renovation dollars when you sell, be sure to repair that leaky roof before springing for a fabulous new kitchen. While a new kitchen may sound seductive, simply upgrading it is likely all you’ll need to do to attract prospective buyers. Today’s buyers are purchasing the basics, and they want them in good shape.

According to Barbara Pronin in a recent RIS Media’s Housecall blog, there are eight home remodeling projects that will pay you back. Mind you, Pronin doesn’t claim you’ll recover your total investment, but she does suggest you’ll recoup 80 percent or better, quite simply because “they increase the value of the property.” Pronin lists the following as the key payback projects:

  • New garage doors
  • A wood deck
  • Exterior siding
  • Attic conversions
  • Kitchen updates
  • New energy-efficient windows
  • Basement remodel
  • Backup power generator.

Kathy McCleary agrees. In HGTV’s online Remodeling magazine, McCleary writes, “Basic maintenance, such as the roof and exterior painting, are frequently more important than an awesome kitchen.” She quotes Sal Alfano, Remodeling’s editorial director. “Buyers want to take the basic systems for granted…Maintenance can chew up a lot of cash quickly, and people are afraid of that.”

Hot urban markets may be the exception. Says McCleary, “In the hottest housing markets, springing for a kitchen or bath remodel is a surefire investment, often returning more than 100 percent of the cost.”