5 Hot Water Heater Options for Green Home Improvement

If you’re remodeling your home, thinking about the water heater might seem rather dull. However, this is one place where a home renovation can save you money. Here are some descriptions of energy efficient water heaters.

Gas Heaters: If you want to go with a traditional gas water heater, choose one that is Energy Star certified, guaranteeing the most efficient technology. They are slightly more expensive than less efficient models, but it is estimated you gain back this money in fewer than three years.

Tankless Heaters: Conventional heaters use energy 24/7 to keep your water hot, even when you’re not using it. Tankless or demand heaters heat the water as it flows through the pipes, so it only heats what you need. This creates a substantial savings on energy costs. Demand models provide hot water continuously, so you don’t have to worry about it running out. They are also quite a bit smaller than conventional tank heaters and some can be installed outside, saving space indoors. They make an ideal home improvement project because they have a life expectancy of 20 years, far more than conventional heaters.

Heat Pump Heaters: A new technology, electric heat pump water heaters could save the typical family quite a bit each year when compared to a standard electric heater. They work similarly to heat pumps that are used for heating and air conditioning purposes and combine with your HVAC system. They work by drawing in warm outside air to heat the water, so they are only effective in warm climates. Homeowners can recoup the higher initial investment over time. (Most estimates are around three years.)

Gas Condensing Heaters: This is an even newer technology, only introduced in 2010. Using more efficient heat exchangers to capture heat from the fuel source, gas condensing water heaters can shave 30 percent off your energy bills and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions. Greater efficiency allows them to provide a continuous stream of hot water, so you don’t have to worry if you’re the last one to shower!

Solar Heaters: Solar heaters can cut your water heating bill and your carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent compared to an electric heater. This is the equivalent of not driving your car four months a year; a solar heater’s average lifespan is 20 years, much longer than that of a traditional gas or electric heater. Although solar heaters take 5-10 years to pay for themselves, you can offset this cost with a federal tax credit. Enterprising do-it-yourselfers can save thousands by building their own systems.

Get Rebates for Home Improvement

In Australia, no good deed goes unrewarded, particularly good deeds related to environmentally friendly home improvement.

The Australian government, in order to promote greener homes, offers rebates that help residents offset the cost of making improvements to their homes that increase their energy efficiency, make better use of water resources or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among other things. Rebates may vary from state to state and by municipality throughout Australia.

Here’s a few of the home improvement projects that may be eligible for a government rebate:

  • The Solar Homes and Communities Plan provides rebates for certain households with incomes less than $100,000 per year to install solar panels for home energy. The subsidy comes nowhere near the cost of installing the panels, but can help folks save a little on the cost of undertaking this project
  • Insulation rebates provide an added financial incentive for improving your home by installing more insulation. Insulation can help reduce power bills by keeping heat and cold out, thus lowering your energy use for climate control within your home. An estimated 2.5 million homes in Australia are under-insulated, and while the Commonwealth Government insulation scheme no longer applies, various state benefits may.
  • Rainwater recycling rebates are available for residents who install equipment that allows them to capture, treat and use rainwater. Rebates vary from area to area in Australia. For example, in Western Australia, homeowners can get a rebate of up to $600 or half the cost of a rainwater tank that’s 2,000 litres or more. In Queensland, the Home Water Wise Rebate Scheme provides rebates of up to $1,000 for the cost of purchasing rainwater tanks, pumps and diverters and having them installed.
  • Energy audits can be obtained for $30 in the Australian Capital Territory. The fee pays for a professional to come to your home and make suggestions on how it can be made more energy efficient. Homeowners who take up one of the professional’s suggestions can receive up to a $500 rebate for work done in a related improvement that costs at least $2,000. The homeowner must let the State government monitor their power bills for one year after the improvement to see how much more effective the home improvement measures have proven to be.

While these government rebates won’t cover the whole cost of greening your home, they will make green home improvement more attractive to homeowners.

Three Green Home Improvements You Can Make Today

Making your home more eco-friendly can be easier than you think. If you though that in order to have an eco-friendly home you’d need to re-build from the ground up, you’ll be happy to know that there are several simple changes that you can make in your home that will save you money, make your home more “green” and increase the resell value of your home. These days having an eco-friendly home can be a great selling point.

One of the first improvements you can make is with eco-friendly paint. Painting is one of the easiest home improvements you can do. Today, there is a wide choice of eco-friendly paints that have low VOC levels. These paints don’t have the harsh chemicals that can harm the environment. The three basic types of eco-friendly paints are milk based, clay based and recycled latex. These paints can be used on a variety of different surfaces.

Milk based paints are completely natural, but they need to be mixed with water in order to be used. It’s the most expensive option and it remains porous after drying. Clay based paints are very durable and are great for faux finishes. Of all three eco-friendly paints, recycled latex is the most prominent since it can be purchased at most major home improvement stores. It has the most colors available and doesn’t require natural wax to prevent stains like the other options do.

You can also go eco-friendly with your flooring. Natural flooring materials have a beautiful finish and they have low environmental impact. The most common types of eco-friendly flooring are cork and bamboo. Cork is durable and very comfortable to walk on. It is used with non-toxic adhesives and comes in many different colors. Bamboo flooring is also another eco-friendly option. It is very similar to traditional wood flooring in its look. What makes it eco-friendly is that bamboo grows much more quickly than traditional hardwood floors.

If you have the budget for a large eco-friendly home improvement project, you can replace your regular roofing with a more eco-friendly roof. Solar roof systems are the most well known of the eco-friendly options. These roof systems take the light from the sun and convert it into energy that can be used inside of the home. Although these roofs are not made from recyclable materials, the energy savings make them eco-friendly. A solar roofing system will last for approximately 30 years.

Another option is reflective roofing. This option involves covering your roof with a white colored fluid that is applied with a paint roller. This roofing reflects the suns rays and helps reduce energy bills inside the home, especially during the summer. It reduces ultraviolet deterioration of the roof. Roofs made from recycled metal are also a very energy efficient and eco-friendly option. Metal roofs can reflect up to 35% of the suns’ rays. As an added bonus, metal roofs are resistant to both fire and pests.

Any of these eco-friendly options will make a great addition to your home, whether you are planning on living there for decades or will be moving in a few years.