What your home is worth to you is one thing; what it's worth to someone else may be totally different. If you want to boost the value of your home for yourself and in the eyes of others, one of the best ways to do that in today's real estate market is to make green home improvements.
Going green can mean a lot of things, and it's easy to start with small changes like switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs and unplugging appliances when they're not in use. Not only will you be doing good for the environment, you might end up saving on utility bills and, ultimately, increasing your home's value when the time comes to sell.
Green projects aren't all necessarily in the do-it-yourself category, and making an investment to have the bigger jobs done right will pay off in the long run.
"It's important for homeowners to consider cost-saving efficiency projects as part of their overall home renovation plans," says RE/MAX CEO Margaret Kelly. "And a trained real estate agent will be able to identify the projects that cut current expenses and pay potential dividends when you're ready to sell."
Getting started now - even if that just means planning - is a good idea, particularly if you're thinking about selling in a few months' time. Talk to a real estate agent about what improvements are popular among potential homebuyers, and consider these ideas:
* Insulation: Regulating the hot air your home lets in during the summer and lets out in the winter can have a short-term impact on your heating and cooling bills. To find out whether you need additional insulation in your attic or walls, order an energy audit. Perhaps you could benefit from adding blown-in insulation to your walls. If your attic is unfinished, it's particularly important to make sure that it's appropriately insulated to avoid wasting energy.
* Windows: Caulking and putting up energy-saving window film is a great start, but a more dramatic change might make a world of difference if you want to make a sale. Replacing your existing windows with high-efficiency versions can be an expensive proposition, but the return on your investment can be dramatic, particularly if you're hoping to attract buyers.
* Landscaping: While planting isn't always possible in the coldest months of the year, putting together a plan for energy-conscious plantings is a great idea. Consider adding trees that will bring shade to the sunniest spots, like the west side of your home, to cut summertime electric bills. Trees that lose their leaves in the fall will let light in during the winter, as opposed to evergreens which will block it throughout the year.
* Water: Take the first step by turning down the temperature setting on your water heater. For more savings, consider replacing older heaters with energy-efficient models or even solar water heaters. Adding insulation to your pipes can also make a difference in how much energy is used to heat water.
Most homeowners put a lot of effort into making their homes attractive, welcoming spaces. With green updates, you can make your home not only more comfortable and more energy-efficient, but also more appealing to buyers. Add the potential energy savings and the possible boost in home value and you have even more reasons to bring your home into the green age.