Although the word “natural” is among the most commonly found words in recent trends in home improvement, it does not always go hand-in-hand with cost effectiveness. As eco-friendly products become a more popular commodity and more available, prices of those products are decreasing, with savings not only limited to immediate project costs but also long term energy use.
Meanwhile, as the Go Green! trend increases, other types of trends are surfacing or regaining value, especially those that give tax breaks. These include energy efficient windows, doors, insulation, metal or asphalt roofs, and solar panels. Outcomes for consumers are even better when tax breaks and energy efficiency are combined.
With the economy’s current gradual incline, consumers looking to update, change, and better their homes are finding that products with long-term solutions and quality are the investments that they are looking to make. Customization in many American homes starts with functionality and is combined with eye-pleasing creations. The use of older light fixtures in the house replaced with energy efficient light bulbs or the recycling of wood from an old shed or barn are money savers with a twist; they add a rustic look with a feel of freshness.
The do-it-yourself method is gaining in popularity in the economic crunch, but depending on the magnitude of the home improvement project, the competitive market and the complexity of newer home improvement eco-friendly ideas, it is important to look for a home remodeling company with plenty of experience and enthusiasm for your particular building project niche.
Putting a Fresh Coat on Home Improvement
Reducing toxins in the air with eco-friendly paint is a good first step in the Go Green home remodeling movement. While this paint still needs to be reapplied every couple of years, the green version avoids putting damaging toxins into the environment. The Freshaire Choice and BioSHIELD are companies that offer a variety of stains, paints and finishes that are truly environmentally friendly.
Interestingly enough, consumers can go in the opposite direction and avoid the harmful effects of paint altogether. One company has created home siding with a 15-year finish warranty, thus the need to repaint is drastically minimized. Along with the reduced need to paint, JamesHardie utilizes locally available resources whenever possible (and fewer of them) to manufacture their merchandise, reducing the cost of the transportation of materials and decreasing the emission of destructive gas toxins. Fiber-cement, as produced by JamesHardie, has been given the USGBC LEED® certification, which, according to usgbc.org, is the “nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.” With tax incentives, this innovative home siding is offered by companies across the country.
A New Window on Energy Efficiency
The next step in cost saving home improvement items are energy efficient windows and doors. The type of glass used in the latest generation of replacement windows, offered by a number of companies, works in multiple beneficial ways for the homeowner. Www.efficientwindows.org explains the benefit of energy efficient windows, the energy tax credit that can be obtained by using an Efficient Window Collaborative (EWC), and the environmental savings that can be made by the use of this product.
Home improvement companies have seen an increase in the construction of sunrooms, with a variety of replacement window treatments used to keep warm air out in the summer and cool air out in the winter. Andersen Windows has created practical, energy efficient windows using SmartSun™ glass that helps to protect interior items such as furniture and carpets by letting in natural daylight and blocking 95 percent of UV rays. Doors created with this economical glass also reduce the destruction of the home’s interior with an incentive for consumers to also get a tax break.
Making it Easier to Go Green
Trends in home remodeling are developing with the growing economy. With the increasing availability of Green building products, companies are looking for more innovative ways to conserve the environment in conjunction with lowering consumers’ project costs. Interest from both businesses and homeowners is growing, and remodeling companies that want to grow with the times are now making sure they offer the eco-responsible products that the market is demanding.
Simple ideas, such as recycling older items to create new home fashions or replacing old light fixtures with energy efficient bulbs are in the forefront of Green ideas, due to the ease of implementation and the low costs involved. Larger projects, including siding and window replacement, may come with tax break incentives and can identify among Green movement credentials.
Consumers are also looking for builders who practice what they promote, recycling left over materials, practicing safe disposal of hazardous wastes, and finding ways to make their own facilities a showcase of green building practices.
About the Author
Carol DiGiorgi is the owner of DiGiorgi Roofing and Siding, Inc., a Connecticut home improvement and building company, family owned and operated since 1933. Ms. DiGiorgi and her professional remodeling team have experienced first hand the evolution of green building practices and how the volatile economy has stimulated increasing energy efficiency in home improvements. For more information, visit their website at www.digiorgiinc.com, call 1-203-723-6880, or contact the author at [email protected]