Brits Shown to Favor Green Home Improvements

Eco-friendly home improvements appear to be increasingly sought-after by Britons, it has been reported.

In research carried out by Legal & General as a part of its ongoing Changing Face of British Homes study, it was revealed that making greener changes to lifestyles is an evermore popular option for members of the public. The study showed that some 37 per cent of people have installed either draught-proofing or double glazing. Meanwhile, 25 per cent of respondents were shown to have fitted additional loft insulation.

For those consumers looking for an effective way to carry out eco-friendly improvements to their property, such as double-glazing and loft insulation, taking out a low-cost home loan may be useful.

The study also showed that just under three-quarters of Britons use low-energy light bulbs, with 23 per cent of respondents looking to recycle rain water. Making sure electrical appliances are not left on standby and making use of reusable shopping bags were also revealed to be popular eco-friendly lifestyle changes. Meanwhile, recycling rubbish was indicated as the most sought-after means in which people lead a greener lifestyle. Overall, 98 per cent of people claimed to be taking steps to improve their environmental efficiency.

However, it appears a significant number of Britons only want to make environmentally-friendly changes when it suits them, with more than half of those questioned said to be unhappy about being charged for waste removal services. An estimated 23 per cent are said to be irked at having to pay for plastic carrier bags at supermarkets and shops.

Commenting on the figures, Ruth Wilkins, head of communications for Legal & General’s general insurance business, said: “While people are annoyed by the implementation of green initiatives the efforts being made to force residents to recycle more of their rubbish are beginning to pay off, with recycling rates jumping from seven per cent to 33 per cent in the past ten years. Legal & General’s recent research would support these findings as the Changing Face of British Homes research shows that a large number of us are taking steps to become greener. Brits simply want to make their own decisions regarding how and when to be green.”

Ms Wilkins went on to report that it is important for those homeowners thinking about carrying out major improvements to their property which are of an environmentally-friendly nature “to check their insurance cover to make sure they are covered under the terms of their policy”.

For consumers wishing to renovate their house – and at the same time help take steps to save the environment – applying for a homeowner loan could be useful. In obtaining this kind of home loan it may be possible that the cost of installing eco-friendly improvements – such as cavity wall insulation, biomass heaters, draught proofing and solar heating panels – can be met quickly and affordably. Indeed borrowing for the purposes of financing home improvements could be rising in popularity after a recent Lloyds TSB study revealed a 19 per cent increase in loan applications for such purposes this month in comparison to August 2007.

Extreme Green Home Improvements

Many homeowners are trying to go green with their home improvements. Once they have done the fast and simple upgrades and the improvements that can make a big difference without breaking the bank, they are ready to start thinking about extreme green home improvements.

Extreme green home improvements are costly and our research shows that these home improvements only appeal to a specific group of buyers. So before assuming that making costly and extreme green improvements, you should do your research on the return on investment for these upgrades in your region. This research can take some of the risk out of the investment. But it is still a gamble.

Some of the extreme green improvements that you might consider are:

Installing photovoltaic cells to generate electricity. Everyone has heard about the merits of using solar power to generate electricity. The initial cost of installing the cells and the equipment to convert the power to electricity for use in the home can be significant. That cost will, however, be recovered over time.

Installing all new windows with triple glazing and UV reflective coatings. The best windows available at this time for their insulating value are triple-glazed windows with gas between the panes and the highest level UV reflective coatings. Installed throughout a home, this can be a costly upgrade. But their value will be immediately clear in comfort within the home and utility cost savings over time.

Switching to a solar water heating system. The cost of a solar water heating system will be higher than traditional electric or gas models. You can expect to recover the cost in water heating savings over just a few years.

Installing a geothermal heating and cooling system. Geothermal heating and cooling systems are very expensive to install and require a certain amount of ground space for installation. They can, however, be placed either horizontally or vertically in the ground. Because they use the constant temperature of the earth, they result in significantly lower energy bills.

Switch all appliances to the highest-rated energy efficiency models. The technology to build more energy-efficient appliances seems to improve almost every year. Replacing older appliances can result in less energy use and lower operating costs.

Install a high-efficiency metal roof. New metal roofing materials are well-insulated and extremely durable. Although the metal roof might cost a little bit more at installation, it will last far longer than shingles or shakes, and it will provide better insulation for your home.

Each of these extreme green home improvements will be costly. On the other hand, all of these improvements will result in significant savings on utility bills. Although they might not pay for themselves in a year or two, you should be able to expect to recover the cost in lower utility bills over time.

While extreme green home remodeling might not be right for every homeowner, it might be right for you. These upgrades probably will not increase the value of your home significantly in terms of resale, but they will certainly make the home more comfortable for your family and more energy efficient.

Quick and Easy Green Home Improvements

Many homeowners are looking for quick and easy green home improvements. Whether you want to make these improvements for the sake of going green or you want to do some things before placing a home on the market that will make it more competitive with new homes, there are plenty of options.

Joining the green revolution will make your home more comfortable, less costly to heat and cool, and some changes will reduce your water and/or sewer bill. Many of these improvements will also make your home more comparable to newer homes on the market. This might or might not justify an increase in selling price. While these quick and easy green home improvements might appeal to home buyers who have a strong interest in a green home, it might not matter to other prospective buyers when they make an offer. If, however, you make available a record of your utility bills for the last year, showing a decrease in heating, cooling and water costs could be attractive to a buyer.

The top seven quick and easy green home improvements that are also economical are:

1. Switch to energy efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs cost a bit more when you buy them, but they will last years longer and use only a fraction of the energy. Start with the lights you tend to use for the longest period of time – like the kitchen light that is never turned off or the bathroom light the kids just can’t remember to turn off. If you are planning to put your home on the market, you might want to start with bulbs in permanent light fixtures.

2. Install insulating/reflective window coverings. Film window coverings are available in several levels of light and UV ray blockage and colors. You can choose different textures and colors depending on the amount of direct sunlight on various windows. The window film is available in most hardware and home improvement stores, and it is easy to install.

3. Install weather stripping on doors and window frames. Weather stripping is relatively inexpensive and it is easy to install on window frames and door frames. It will reduce the amount of heat exchange by sealing up cracks or openings. This will make your home more comfortable, more energy efficient, and more environmentally friendly.

4. Install low flow shower heads and faucets. Most homeowners can install new shower heads and faucets or affordably hire a handyman to do it. These faucets and shower heads use less water without blocking adequate water flow. They will save water and reduce your water and sewer bills.

5. Adjust the float in the toilet tank to use less water. This is a fairly simple adjustment that can be accomplished by most homeowners or a handyman. If you can’t adjust it, try putting something in the bottom of the tank that will displace some of the water. Just be sure that what you use won’t rust and won’t get in the way of the working of the flushing mechanism.

6. Insulate the hot water distribution pipes in your home. This is also a relatively inexpensive and easy job of wrapping the pipes that go from the hot water heater to the various plumbing fixtures (kitchen, bathrooms). Keeping the water warmer as it moves through the pipes will provide warmer water and it will reduce the amount of water you have to run from a faucet while you wait for the hot water to get there.

7. Install insulating or reflective window treatments. Install reflective blinds or shades at your windows. Then be sure to close them at times when the sun shines on them directly or during the warmest part of the day. This will reduce your heating/cooling bills.

Try these seven steps to make some quick and easy green home improvements. The money you will save on utility bills will probably pay for the improvements very quickly.

Copyright 2008 by ABCD Publishing