Make 'green' home improvements with a few easy steps

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 March 6, 2012


The push to "go green" is a common trend among prospective homebuyers, and many may seek out ways to become more environmentally-friendly after buying a home. Making improvements and upgrades, whether the home is new or old, can not only help buyers be more environmentally conscious, but it can also save them money on utility bills, including heat, water and electricity.

Going green does not mean making significant and costly changes or upgrades, and in most cases, making small alterations to a home and its features can help owners save significantly.

Out with the old

New homeowners may be hesitant to give up their favorite appliances they've had for years, but coffee makers, blenders, crock pots and other electrical products require more energy as they age, according to MSN Real Estate. An appliance is typically considered "old" when it has reached 10 years of use. The same is true for large-scale appliances that already have a large energy output, such as refrigerators, washing machines and dryers. Rather than hanging on to these old machines to avoid purchasing a new product, consider buying new appliances that are Energy-Star certified. These items may not only run more efficiently, but also help homeowners save money on electricity bills.

In addition to tossing out worn appliances, homeowners can replace old fixtures that may be raising their water bills. For example, installing low-flow toilets can reduce the amount of water it uses per flush from 3.5 gallons to 1.6 gallons, MSN reports. Energy-efficient showerheads and aerated faucets can also reduce water output and leakage, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Re-decorate

New homeowners may want to make upgrades and improvements to their home to fit their style, and there are several green options for re-decorating a space. For example, homeowners who plan on installing hardwood floors should consider bamboo. Not only does bamboo provide sturdiness, but it can replenish itself more quickly than other types of hardwood. Homeowners can also venture to their local home improvement store to explore different types of counter tops that are more environmentally focused.

Purchasing paint that specifies zero or low volatile organic compounds on the label is also more environmentally-friendly, carries fewer toxins and can provide just as much color and vibrancy as chemical-based paints. Nearly all home improvement stores carry this type of paint and offer competitive prices.