Save money on home improvements this season
Warmer temperatures make this a great time to tackle much-needed home improvement projects. And contrary to popular belief, these adjustments don't need to be expensive or exhausting.
There are many cost-effective, eco-friendly design and renovation projects you can undertake that will spruce up your home and positively impact the environment.
"Simply put, environmentally-friendly home renovation projects create a healthy home and save energy and money," said Tove Anderson, principal of Tove Anderson Architecture and the past chair of The American Institute of Architects Committee on the Environment's DC Chapter. "Whether it is reusing what is in your home or incorporating new materials, there are a variety of environmentally-friendly design options that can fit anyone's taste and budget."
To start, consider the following practices:
Find Hidden Gems
Before shopping for costly new pieces of furniture, take a second look at unused pieces in your basement, garage or guest rooms. In many cases, long-ignored decor can be refurbished with a new coat of paint, reupholstering or another creative makeover. If you can't fight the urge to splurge, shop locally first or visit a high-end secondhand store. This eliminates manufacturing and transportation costs and is a more sustainable approach to furnishing your home. You might also browse online stores for environmentally-friendly furniture, paint or artwork.
Use What You Have
Enlist an architect to help you reconfigure existing space in your home, rather than make costly structural modifications or additions on your own. These professionals can help you assess how you can create the home of your dreams by working with already existing space.
For example, if you've always wanted more sunlight or an open floor plan, an architect can help you make the needed adjustments -- such as new window treatments, adding windows and skylights, or knocking down walls. To find an architect in your area, visit architectfinder.aia.org.
Say It With Color
A new coat of paint can do wonders in changing a room's look. Make sure to choose low-VOC (volatile organic chemicals) paint, which uses water instead of oil, thereby reducing toxins and limiting the impact on your home and the environment.
Be Energy Efficient
Insulation leaks and cracks can exist in both new and old homes, leading to energy waste and inflated bills. A free home energy audit can provide ways to save money and energy. Your local energy provider usually can assist in setting up an appointment. Reseal windows, walls, ceilings and attic to start making a sizable, positive impact.
Additionally, if you are looking to purchase a new appliance, consider Energy-Star qualified appliances, which use 25-40 percent less energy than conventional options and can result in savings of up to $100 (or more) a year on energy bills.
If your water heater is more than 10 years old, it might be time to purchase a new one. If that's not possible, cover your old one with a water heater jacket, which can eliminate heat loss by 25-40 percent.
And remember to shut off and unplug electrical devices when not in use.
"By making the decision to adopt sustainable renovation practices that are eco-friendly, homeowners will help the environment and be rewarded with extra money savings, in the short and long term," said Anderson.