As a homeowner, it’s easy to say that installing a tankless water heater, or perhaps geothermal heating will reduce your electric bills, and ultimately make you a more environmentally friendly person, but it’s not always practical for the short term – Although effective and sustainable, these types of additions are costly up front.
But other than your upgrading heating/cooling system(s), there are plenty of sustainable rebuilds and additions that are somewhat less expensive, and certainly make a tremendous impact upon the environment.
And for the most part, they begin in the kitchen:
#1 – Countertops
Changing the countertops is a great choice. Choose something timeless and you can enjoy a 90 to 100 percent return on your investment. The benefit of green countertops is that they do not emit VOC’s or other toxins into the air. Your kitchen will not only look better, but it will actually smell better. An added bonus is that you will also improve the indoor air quality of your home.
#2 – Flooring
Natural stone tiles emit no VOCs, are beautiful and will definitely add value to your home. You can expect a return on this investment of 90 to 100 percent, making it a smart choice for any household. If you are handy with a tile saw and don’t mind the extra work, you can even install it yourself and increase your return more.
#3 – Energy Efficient Appliances
Look for Energy Start rated dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens and stoves. They will cost a little more at the time of purchase, but they will help you lower your energy bills every month. You won’t necessarily get a return through higher selling prices, but you will enjoy a return on the investment through lower utility costs. The exact savings depends on how the efficiency levels of your old appliances and new choices stack up.
#4 – Let the Sun Shine In
If your kitchen windows are buried under heavy drapes, consider switching them out for something light and airy. Bamboo shades or shutters are environmentally friendly and attractive. Letting the light in will make the kitchen seem larger and more welcoming, increasing the home’s appeal and the value. If you don’t have windows, you can still add lighting with under-cabinet LED lights for task lighting and improved ambience.
#5 – Add Storage
People need storage space, so take then into account when remodeling the kitchen. Whether you choose green bamboo cabinets or environmentally friendly, recycled steel cabinets, take steps to maximize storage. It won’t cost much more to add a functional pantry, and it can reward you with an increased selling price.
When you are considering a home improvement project, make smart choices. Look for projects that will make your home more enjoyable. Consider those that have a high return on investment through either an increased selling price or lower expenses. But even more importantly, try to remember that what you’re doing also has an impact on the environment. Investing in eco-friendly materials and supplying your home with energy efficient technology ensures that you’re doing your part in reducing your carbon footprint.
With the right choices, you can make your life more enjoyable simply through knowing you continue to play your role.