The green movement has taken over the market. From eco-friendly fashion to hybrid cars, consumers are constantly looking for new ways to reduce their carbon footprint. The energy saving trend has even impacted the housing industry. Today’s dream home doesn’t just boast a big backyard and plenty of windows—it also comes with the assurance that the home was built with the environment and sustainability in mind.
Whether you are a confirmed tree-hugger or you are new to the idea of alternative energy, joining the green revolution is an easy and gratifying way to make your home stand out on the market. Not only will you enjoy the knowledge that your home is helping to save energy, but you will also be more likely to stand out to prospective buyers who are interested in all things green.
Green consumers are ideal homebuyers, as they are educated, driven, and community-oriented, so achieving their interest is a great way to be sure that you are selling your home to the right person.
Here is how to catch the eye of the green consumer and make your home energy-friendly:
Invest in solar panels. Solar panels are one of the best ways to create renewable and clean energy in your home. They also can help cut down on the cost of utilities, such as electricity bills. Some people are even using solar panels to heat swimming pools. Although the initial cost of installing solar panels can be costly, homes with solar panels are much more likely to sell, even in this down market. Houses with solar panels have sold 25% faster and for 5% more than other houses on the market that are similar without solar panels. [see the article, Green Homes Sell Faster and For More Than Comparables, here.]
Make your garden green. Sometimes even our gardens can be harmful to the environment, what with the chemicals in fertilizers and the cost and energy it takes to ship exotic flowers and shrubs to our cities. Make your garden green by buying local flowers and plants, and utilize natural fertilizers like clover. Plant your own vegetables to help reduce your grocery bill and your carbon footprint.
When gardening, avoid insecticides and bug zappers. Nature needs bugs, and bugs need nature. Messing with this natural order not only fills your lawn with harmful chemicals, it also can harm the appearance of your garden. Additionally, don’t douse your garden in water every morning and night. Watering less is a good way to conserve water and reduce your energy bill. You might be surprised at how just a little bit of water go a long way, especially if you leave Mother Nature in charge.
Use recycled products. When remodeling, don’t assume that big-name home improvement stores are your only option for materials and tools. There are many organizations which are devoted to selling repurposed materials for home improvement, including recycled paneling, windows, cabinets, hardware, plumbing, and much more. Recycled materials not only reduce your carbon footprint, they also help to add interest and personality to your home, making it stand out from the cookie-cutter crowd that the market is inundated with. And don’t forget to pay it forward by donating materials that you no longer need or want to these wonderful organizations.
Make smarter remodeling choices. Not everything in your home can be recycled, but you can trim your carbon footprint and your remodeling bill by making smarter choices. If you are replacing your carpet with hardwood floors, choose bamboo flooring, a cost-efficient and eco-friendly option when compared to other flooring such as pine or oak. When painting, make sure to purchase zero- or low-VOC paints, which is a fancy way of saying that the paint has little to no toxic chemicals that contribute to smog and pollution.
Mount ceiling fans to help keep rooms cool instead of relying on energy-hogging air conditioners, and install low-flow toilets that use almost 2 gallons of water less per flush than traditional toilets. Make sure the rest of your appliances are energy-friendly, including your refrigerator and furnace. Look for the “Energy Star” label when replacing appliances, as these will help lead you to energy-saving options. Finally, replace your light bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs), which last longer and use less energy.
Now that your home is green and eco-friendly, make sure to get the word out there to prospective buyers. If possible, use a green-certified real estate agent to help sell your home, which is a good way to tap into the burgeoning green consumer market. Good luck!
Dalida Jongsma is an entrepreneur with a passion for sustainable development and renewable energy. She is the owner of Natural Dynamics, a renewable energy consulting firm in Chicago that helps clients cut back on their energy usage and find creative ways to integrate renewable energy into their homes and businesses.