Friday, March 13, 2015

Greening your home to improve value and save money

Originally published in New Buffalo Times - March 12,2015

Today’s savvy home buyers are looking for homes that are energy efficient and “green”. Here are a few ideas that can make your house more marketable for the future, and help your household budget and the planet right now. Celebrate St Patrick’s Day and GO GREEN at home! 

Change your light bulbs to LEDS or CFLs
Light bulbs have evolved over the years to fit all types of needs, from recessed lighting to dimming switches for LEDS (CFLs aren’t dimmable), and many CFLs now emit a soft yellowish light that is less harsh than when they were first introduced. Well thought out lighting design saves energy, and makes the kitchen dazzle in this home for sale at 1722 Sugar Lane in Niles, Michigan.

Energy Star for appliances, ratings and more
Energy Star is a partnership between the EPA and businesses that aims to help consumers save energy and money, and to help protect the environment through energy-efficient homes, products, and practices. When shopping for new appliances look for the ‘Energy Star Most Efficient 2015” designation for the most cutting edge energy efficiency. 

Install tankless on-demand water heaters
Because they don’t store water and reheat it constantly, tankless heaters can save up to 50 percent on a hot water bill. Even better, you will never be without hot water, since the heating coils warm the water as it passes through the system. 

Install ceiling fans to use year-round
Install a ceiling fan and use it in the winter too! If you run the fan in reverse at a low speed, it will help circulate the warm air. 

Add “green” insulation
Look for eco-friendly materials from soybean spray foam, to shredded recycled newspaper or denim when adding insulation to make your home more energy efficient.  You will want to learn all about the important R values of materials you select. 

Using native trees and plants to landscape your yard is one of the best things you can do for the environment. Native landscaping is low maintenance and beautiful, gives a sense of geographic place more than a generic grass lawn, and the local insects and wildlife will enjoy it as well.  Good landscape design adds curb appeal and promotes positive home buyer first impressions. 

Practice smart irrigation techniques
Keeping your sprinkler system maintained and programmed to run at night reduces water waste. Make use of drip irrigation when possible.  Interesting fact: The most efficient way to water your yard is manually with a hose only when necessary which will having you using close to 33 percent less water than if you had automatic sprinklers! 

When selling your home in the future, your efforts and investments in going green today will pay off with more greenbacks in your bank account.   And you can bet that many potential home buyers will be asking to see your past utility bills before they make an offer.    

And here are a few more simple green ideas that don’t involve spending much “green”

·         Use non-toxic cleaning products
·         Burn fire place logs made from coffee grounds
·         Buy compostable trash bags and ban plastic bags from you house
·         Collect water for irrigation in a Rain Barrel
·         Add a water aerator to all your faucets and shower heads

Resources: Real Simple Magazine,

Rob Gow is a writer/ photo contributor with twelve years of experience as a Realtor in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Rob is affiliated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, KoenigRubloff RealtyGroup in New Buffalo, Michigan.  Rob Gow can be contacted at