by Don Vandervort, © HomeTips
As energy prices continue to rise and environmental concerns deepen, a multitude of new energy-saving, environmentally responsible home improvement products and materials are pouring into the marketplace. High- efficiency appliances and heating and cooling equipment, insulation and weatherstripping, energy-efficient windows and doors, and many other products and technologies now make it possible to enjoy more-comfortable homes while decreasing energy expenditures and lessening the impact of new construction on the planet.
There is no better time to explore these products than during a home remodel. When remodeling, you will be making many choices about what products and materials to buy. Products that pay back their cost over time through energy savings are great for both your pocketbook and the planet.
So what should you be thinking about regarding “green” remodeling? Here are a few considerations:
• Ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Avoid wasting money or resources on anything that isn’t important to you. Perhaps the biggest question of all when thinking about expanding your home is whether you really need more space. By rethinking and reconfiguring existing spaces, you may be able to save significantly. You can work with an architect, designer, or space planner to explore the possibilities of working within your home’s existing footprint.
• When buying new appliances and heating and cooling equipment, be sure to choose ones that have Energy Star ratings, indicating that they will reduce energy consumption.
• Choose water-saving fixtures and appliances. Fresh water is becoming more and more scarce and precious, so every drop you save not only saves on your utility bill but also helps save the planet.
• If possible, use recycled or renewable materials instead of buying new. Giving materials a second life is a great way to decrease consumption and expense.
• Make environmentally responsible choices. For example, choose low- or no- VOC paints, and avoid cleaning chemicals that give off toxic fumes.
• Buy products that are durable. Products with a long lifespan are generally easier to maintain and, because their cost can be amortized over a greater period of time, are in the long run more affordable.
• Explore state and federal tax incentives. You may be able to receive tax credits when buying energy-saving products.
All it takes is a little thought. Are you doing everything within budget and reason to maximize the energy efficiency of your home’s envelope? Now is the time to spend a little more for high-efficiency products and materials. They will pay you back and pay back the planet.
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