In a market where the streets are filled with For Sale signs and houses stay on the market for months – even years – at a time, homeowners need to find every advantage to sell their homes quickly and for the highest price. One aspect that many sellers are finding to be an advantage is making their home green. Realtors have found that homebuyers are willing to pay thousands of dollars extra to purchase a home with green features in the hopes of saving money down the road in utilities. It’s easier to add the cost of the environmentally conservative features, including energy star appliances, in with the mortgage loan than to pay for them out of pocket after the home is purchased. Another advantage is that certain improvements can help homeowners qualify for tax breaks.
Can You See Me Now?
If you have a hard time seeing out your windows because there is condensation inside them, or they are more than 10 years old, then new efficient windows are what the doctor calls for. Windows that are old or leaky around the casings can cause a house to loose over a quarter of its heat, or cooling. This makes a huge impact in energy costs, thus can be an item that buyers will take extra time reviewing. A quick way to tell if you need new windows is whether your windows have multiple panes. The most efficient windows are triple panes, or a double pane with argon gas, with a vinyl casing. Vinyl casings are better than aluminum because metal transfers heat and cold better than vinyl. If you find fine dirt gathered on your sill along a seam in the casing, this can be a clue you have a serious air leak. When it’s windy out, feel around the molding and see if you feel a breeze. Once the windows are installed, be sure that insulation is replaced, along with the vapor barrier, and that every seam and crack is sealed with the proper caulk.
Get warm and fuzzy
The second biggest culprit to heat loss in a house is the attic. Most areas in the United States fall within an area where a type R38 insulation is needed for proper insulation. This means that if you find you have less than 12 inches of insulation in your attic, you better head to the home improvement store. Be sure your attic has a vapor barrier and proper ventilation. Also make sure there are no signs of little critters running around or getting through holes in the eves. Add extra points for going green and make sure that your insulation has environmental conservation points. Some companies are even using recycled jeans as blown insulation. As you finish the attic, don’t forget that the walls and the ceiling in the basement could probably use additional insulation.
Feel the Energy
Once the loss of heat has been resolved, it’s time to turn your attention to your heating sources, whether it is the system for the home, or for the water. Major appliances, including furnaces, and boilers are actually intended to be replaced every 10 years. Consider replacing that water heater tank with a tankless on demand system, which will save money by not constantly heating water that is just being stored. If you are planning to redo your floors, now would be a good time to install radiant floor heating. What type of heating system will be determined by what kind of winter conditions you encounter. For any system, though, most important is to be sure that all the air ducting is sealed and insulated where needed, and that the air filters are changed often. With about half of the energy costs going to heating, having the most efficient appliances will make a huge difference.
Don’t Forget the Whip Cream
Windows, insulation and appliances are the obvious changes that can be made to a home, but do not forget to add the whip cream, the finishing touches. Have low flow shower heads, and toilets. Use environmentally friendly paint to freshen up the rooms. Get sustainable lumber or recyclable products for that new deck. Make your outdoor landscape green by not having heavily water dependent plants. Go for stonework, or even life-like Astroturf for the lawn to conserve more water, and eliminate the need for carbon spewing lawnmowers. Even though some of these changes can feel costly at first, remember that you will be more likely to get it back and more when the buyer sees that the house is already updated and even better, is green.