Green Home Improvement Tips

These days, everyone wants to do their part to help the environment and cut down on waste. There are many obvious ways to do this, such as recycling or buying a hybrid car. There are other less obvious ways that can make a big impact. One of the best ways to conserve energy and, as a result, save money in the long run, is by doing a green home renovation. While this may seem like a daunting undertaking, with the right planning, it can be a relatively stress-free project that results in both measurable and non-measurable benefits.

To begin with, it is important to have a plan. Green home improvement differs from basic home repair because you are working toward an ultimate goal of making your home more efficient and environmentally friendly. It is advisable to work with a green contractor who has experience with this specific kind of renovation. The contractor can help you decide if you may need a drastic overhaul to achieve optimal conservation, or if a few small changes will suffice. A simple step towards going green is switching to energy-efficient light bulbs and installing motion detectors and timers that keep lights off when they are not needed.

A more involved way of making a home eco-friendly is by installing a new HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). Your contractor can help you install a system that optimizes the space you have, with the most efficient use of energy. When installing a new HVAC system, it is important to keep in mind the climate that you live and the needs of your home.

It is also advisable to think green when selecting the products that you will use in your renovation. Not all materials are created equal, as many contain products that are harmful to the environment. Try to stick to products that are long-lasting, and contain recycled material that is eco-friendly. Also, by selecting products that are durable, you avoid having to replace them, and as such, are able to cut down on waste. Many green products can be found in home improvement stores, so be sure to some research before committing to a brand.

Window replacement is another way to conserve energy and cut down on costs. By installing windows with better insulation, you are reducing the amount of heat or air-conditioning that is wasted and your home is better able to heat or cool itself using natural resources. This is a significant way to reduce energy bills, since your home is more efficient and requires less energy to maintain.

Lastly, it is important to remember that maintaining a green home is an ongoing commitment. Be conscious of using eco-friendly cleaning products and other materials. Make sure to keep water use to a minimum, and always turn off electronics and appliances when not in use. While it is difficult to change old habits, it is vital that we all do our best to conserve resources and help our environment.

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.