- Green Remodeling

Remodeling your home Green

green remodel makes for lower energy bills and can substantially contribute to the resale value of a home. But when tackling a green remodel, homeowners might be a bit confused on the particulars. To remodel green, there are a few guidelines to observe. These are such things as using green building materials, fixtures which conserve energy, and incorporating sustainable energy. You don’t have to go through an environmental education course to take-on a green remodel, but you will have to make smart choices. Compare and contrast various materials, new appliances and other features to transition and go green in your home.

Sustainable Energy

Green remodeling starts with assessing where how your home currently uses energy. So, the first step in the process will be to get a home energy audit. This will reveal the areas in your home that are wasting energy or aren’t conserving where possible. For instance, older toilets and shower heads waste water. While replacing old jalousie windows with double pane, Low E windows conserve energy.

…there are lots of incentives from [local utility companies], an abundance of green building supplies, and five-star green rating systems to help home improvers set goals. —This Old House

Sustainable energy is another example of conserving rather than wasting. Installing solar panels is one of the most popular ways to accomplish this. In addition, replacing a traditional water heater with a tankless water heater can also be part of a green remodel. But it certainly doesn’t end there. By just making a few simple changes during a remodel, you can easily go green in your home.

Ways to Do a Green Remodel

When you decide on a green remodel, you don’t have to sacrifice on quality or aesthetics. There are a number of green building materials which look just as beautiful while being more energy wise. Green remodeling is about planning for function as well as comfort. That being said, here are some great tips on how to do a green remodel so you get what you want, save money in the future and increase the resale value of your home:

  • Use space wisely. During practically any remodel, there’s demolition Walls are often knocked down to open up spaces. And some require erecting new walls. Be smart and opt for less. This will allow for the addition of more insulation.
  • Reuse when possible. Speaking of demolition, if you’re knocking down things like an old brick fireplace, consider repurposing those bricks for a outdoor walkway. By reusing materials, you can save on costs as well as reduce waste, according to Nolo.com.
  • Choose materials which are rapidly reproduced. Hardwood flooring is great. But there are a number of flooring choices which are more environmentally sensitive. Bamboo, for instance, regrows at a much faster rate, helping to preserve natural resources.
  • Upgrade where possible. When you go into a green remodel, don’t stop at the surface. Replace your old wiringinstall new appliances like low-flow shower heads and toilets.
It’s also a good idea to consult an architect. This will actually lower the cost of your green remodel because you’ll save a lot on planning and won’t be stuck with a bad contractor.

If you are ready to tackle a green remodel, then check out our database of expert contractors. We feature only the finest in the area and each one is licensed and insured.

Energy Efficiency
- Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency and Your Home

An energy efficient home is something most people think about once a month. When the utility bills roll in and need to be paid, there’s always the consideration something can be done to lower costs. But like with many “chores”, most homeowners just accept the situation and rationalize making an energy efficient home is too expensive and too time consuming. Truth be told, nothing worthwhile is easy and all efforts will payoff in the future. What’s more, turning an energy guzzling home into an energy efficient home can be done incrementally. Not all modifications, upgrades and replacements have to be done at once.

What Makes an Energy Efficient Home

What makes an energy efficient home is, well, smart and efficient energy use. And making an energy efficient home can be done through a series of steps. Some are small changes in everyday living while others are taking on larger projects. An energy efficient home uses power, water and materials in not only an environmentally friendly manner, but in a way that reduces costs to the homeowner. In fact, the average American household’s energy budget spends 22.4 percent in cooling, 14.2 percent in lighting, 8.9 percent in water heating, 7.3 percent in refrigeration, 6.8 percent in powering color televisions and set-top boxes, and 8.4 percent in regular cooking and cleaning, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Ways to Make a Home Energy Efficient

Not surprisingly, looking over the biggest power consumption sources on the list, cooling, water heating and lighting take the top three spots. Add space heaters and furnace fans, that’s another 8.6 percent of annual energy costs. But those costs can be reduced significantly in an energy efficient home. Here are some steps you can take to convert your property into an energy efficient home:

  1. Replace your old refrigerator. As you can see, a refrigerator consumes a lot of power. Because these appliances are so durable and have such longevity, homeowners often keep them past their energy conservation lifespan.
  2. Change out that old thermostat for a digital, programmable thermostat. An energy efficient home uses electricity wisely. Installing a programmable thermostat will allow you to take control of when and how much your home is cooled.
  3. Shade windows facing east and south. By simply sticking heat/light blocking tint to your windows, you’ll greatly reduce the amount of heat transfer coming from outside. The less heat emitted, the less cooling is necessary.
  4. Replace window and door weatherstripping. An energy efficient home leaves no trace for energy escape. That cracked, worn weatherstripping simply lets cool or warm air out and allows hot or cold air to come inside, according to The Discovery Network. Additionally, caulk windows and door around the “seems” to keep them better insulated.
  5. Add foam or reflective insulation to your home. Foam insulation improves indoor air quality, reduces energy costs and dampens noise. While reflective insulation works by inhibiting or repelling heat from the sun. Both are great to make a more energy efficient home.
  6. Upgrade your attic insulation, duct work and/or your central air conditioner. Yes, it’s a big investment, but the key word is “investment”. Replacing old inefficient HVAC equipment will make a drastic difference in your cooling costs during the summer months.
  7. Unplug this and unplug that. Just over 18 percent of average household energy use is due to what the U.S. Energy Information Administration classifies as “small devices, heating elements, and motors”. In this category are chargers, alarm clocks, radios, blenders, toasters and other small appliances homeowners regularly leave plugged in, even when not in use.
  8. Replace your water heater. An energy efficient home takes advantage of the latest technologies available to consumers. There are solar and tankless water heaters available to make an energy efficient home. Most have rebates with purchase.
  9. Install or replace your attic fan. Replacing insulation and upgrading duct work will certainly do wonders, but giving them a little extra help can’t hurt.
  10. Bathroom fixtures are another key part of creating an energy efficient home. Low-flow shower heads and low-flush toilets can be a giant help in stopping water waste.

In addition to the above ten steps for creating an energy efficient home, there are other things you can do to make your home more economic. Swap out those old light bulbs for CFL bulbs. Pull away window treatments and furniture from air vents to get the maximum output. Turn off your desktop, televisions, radios, video game stations and other devices when not in use. Lastly, replace your air filter on a regular basis and wrap your water heater in insulation for better performance.

What should you know about Landscape Lighting?
- Landscape Lighting

What should you know about Landscape Lighting?

Landscape lighting not only provides function, but can make your outdoor space substantially more beautiful. If you’ve already pulled-out all the stops to make your yard look top-rate with spectacular hardscaping and softscaping, it’s time to put the last piece of the puzzle into place–landscape lightsOutdoor light transforms a yard, patio, deck or garden from ordinary to extraordinary. Not only does landscape light make your exterior accessible during the evening, it sets-off key features that dazzle the eye. And the good news is, the majority of exterior lighting is energy efficient. There is a wide variety of low voltage outdoor lighting fixtures on the market. Not only does that lower the long term cost, it also provides a great deal of fixtures from which to choose.

Smart Outdoor Lighting

When you are ready to install outdoor lighting, keep in mind not only where but how the fixtures will work. That means choosing hardware that will not only get the job done, but hardware that will help to create a sense of artistry. Whether it’s an ethereal moonlight beam created by garden lighting, or an illuminated walkway set-off with path lights, a combination of function and style give a home more curb appeal and help to up its resale value.

Make outdoor gathering spaces usable after dark by installing lighting around your deck, patio, or porch. Smart outdoor lighting will also boost the curb appeal of your home. —Better Homes and Gardens

And this is accomplished by careful planning–taking an extensive view of the long-term goal. For instance, using a classic insider’s trick of continuing indoor flooring to the outside facade. This can be done in-part through well-positioned landscape lighting. Another great design idea is to use light to create a sense of warmth with patio furniture for outdoor dining and just relaxing with family and friends.

Landscape Lighting Tips

Landscape lighting doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s very easy to overspend. Most homeowners who opt to take on this type of project often don’t know how to budget for their project. What’s more, it can be difficult to stick to a design concept, particularly when professional skills are needed to install specialized hardware. Because there are many landscape lighting design concepts, like installing a water feature or illuminating a pathway, it’s best to consult a professional to keep costs from spiraling out of control and preventing injuries. Here are some tips the American Lighting Association recommends following when installing landscape lighting:

  • Opt for professional help. Electrical wiring is no less dangerous outside than inside a home. Outdoor lighting can be very difficult to adjust and/or move if necessary.
  • Determine what features you’d most like to highlight and what hardware works best. It’s not only choosing what features you’d like to set-off with landscape lighting, but what hardware will work best.
  • Purchase an appropriate-sized transformer. Even when using low voltage landscape lighting, power needs can be substantial in large outdoor spaces.
  • Plan ahead if installing your lighting in stages. If you are going to do your project in stages, set the infrastructure during the initial phase. This will allow you to continue without having to uninstall and re-install hardware.

Lastly, try to blend your landscaping lighting fixtures in with the outside decor. While this will require a bit of expert ingenuity, it will make your outdoor space look all-the-more spectacular.

- Flooring

Flooring Options for the Home

Home flooring options seem to abound the moment you decide it’s time for a change. Suddenly it seems there are more home flooring options than there are makes and models of automobiles on the road. And, not surprisingly, the price range in home flooring options is significant. Some home flooring options are relatively inexpensive, while others are costly. But often, the highest pricedhome flooring options have the best return on investment because they last far longer and up resale value, according to Realtor.com. Choosing the right one of many home flooring options will be based on your budget, aesthetics, use and placement. As with any home improvement project, you’ll have to start by analyzing your budget. Once you know your spending limit, then think about which home flooring option will look good in your home. Particularly if you are only remodeling one room. Lastly, think about traffic and location to outside doors.

Common Home Flooring Options

The most common home flooring options are hardwood, tile, concrete, cork, laminate and carpet. Each has it’s pros and cons. And if you’re undertaking a remodel with the intent of selling, its resale/marketability ought to be the first thing on your mind:

…tile or wood will be more attractive to potential buyers and increase the value of your property versus the finished concrete look. –Lee Dworshak, Realtor, Keller Williams, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

Of course, homeowners know that among the most popular home flooring options, tile and hardwood are at the top. But cost might be a barrier, so concrete, laminate or carpet might be a feasible alternative. To help you decide which is the right choice for your home, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of each of the home flooring options.

Hardwood

Hardwood is one of two home flooring options most homeowners install, the other being tile. It has a natural beauty and even engineered hardwood looks great. It comes in a wide variety of shades and grains and is great for expanding a room’s size.

  • Cost: Hardwood generally costs $3 to $12 per square foot and that can or cannot include installation.
  • Pros: Easy to clean, are durable and have great resale potential.
  • Cons: Cost is obviously the biggest downside of hardwood. And of all the home flooring options, this one will be the most expensive to maintain as it needs to be occasionally refinished.
  • Rooms: Hardwood is great for large rooms and for bedrooms. But bathrooms and foyers as well as kitchens aren’t an ideal environment for hardwood.

Tile

Tile is the other most popular of the top two home flooring options. It comes in an expansive array of styles, materials and finishes. Tile opens up a room and when connected to other areas, makes the space appear endless.

  • Cost: Tile ranges in cost from just $1 up to $20 or more per square foot, including installation.
  • Pros: Like hardwood, tile is easy to clean plus it’s scratch resistant. It has a lot of longevity and adds to resale value.
  • Cons: Again, cost is a consideration. Tile also creates echos, is cold and grout cleaning is necessary to maintain its look over its lifetime.
  • Rooms: Pretty much anywhere. But bedrooms are the least appropriate place to install tile because of its cold shock value in the winter.

Laminate

The great thing about home flooring options is that there are many choices. And laminate definitely delivers here. There is much to choose from and it’s ubiquitous.

  • Cost: Laminate is inexpensive, being available from as little a 50 cents and can cost up to $3 to $5 per square foot.
  • Pros: Very scratch resistant and easy to maintain, laminate is also durable and lasts for a very long time. It can be installed by do-it-yourselfers with a little carpentry knowledge.
  • Cons: Water can damage laminate, especially if left unattended.
  • Rooms: High traffic areas are ideal for laminate. But anywhere leaks can occur it is best to avoid such as bathrooms, the kitchen or laundry room.

Carpet

Of all the home flooring options, carpet is one of the most installed because of its easy care and price. It gives a home a homey feel and is soft. But does wear out the fastest of all home flooring options.

  • Cost: Carpet is a mid level expense floor covering and can be found from $2 to $5 per square foot.
  • Pros: Carpet is sturdy, given its material make-up. It’s also soft and dampens sound.
  • Cons: Stains are a concern, even though stain resistant technology has gained substantial ground. Carpet is easy to maintain but also masks dirt. Padding also adds to the cost of carpet.
  • Rooms: Anywhere but high traffic areas like living rooms aren’t the best place.

The remaining home flooring options, cork and concrete are on the rise in popularity. Cork is considered a green product and popularity is on the rise. But concrete isn’t a widely shared taste and cork doesn’t have the longevity shared among the other home flooring options.