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Return on Your Green Home Improvement Investment

09/18/2012 by By Daniel D. Chiras, PhD

While most remodeling projects are motivated by the desire to create more comfortable, functional, and pleasant spaces to live in, economic considerations also come into play. The dollar value of a green home improvement project can be measured in several ways.


One is to compare the money you spend on a project to the amount it could add to the sale price of your residence. Another is to determine how an improvement could attract buyers and speed up the sale of a home, if and when you put it on the market. For instance, durable siding or additional insulation could add significantly to your home’s market value—and attract more buyers. Be sure to list all green features when marketing your home. They are becoming extremely important to home buyers. You may even want to find a realtor who specializes in green homes. They are increasing in number and prominence.


Another way to assess the dollar value of a green home improvement project is to determine how much money the project will save you on your utility bills while you are living in your home. For instance, replacing water-wasting toilets or showerheads with efficient fixtures and replacing old appliances with energy-efficient models can save substantial amounts of money. Some improvements, for example, installing an energy-efficient heating and air conditioning system, may also qualify you for rebates from your utility company or state or federal government—resulting in yet another way to save money.


Some green improvements, such as sealing leaks around windows and doors, not only save money, but make us more comfortable. Although comfort may not be quantifiable in dollars and cents, it is definitely a benefit that must be considered when calculating the value of a project. Some green home improvements also make our homes healthier, for example, by reducing or eliminating toxic chemicals and mold buildup. Creating healthier living spaces reduces doctor’s visits, trips to the emergency room to treat breathing disorders such as asthma, and the need for medication—and associated expenses. Although you may not be able to project actual savings in health care costs, they are definitely worth considering—along with a priceless, better quality of life!


Another factor to consider is replacement costs. Some green building materials, such as recycled-content roofing products and fiber-cement siding, are more durable and fire- and weather-resistant than conventional materials. Durability results in longer service, lower maintenance costs, and less frequent replacement compared to conventional building materials. You save money and time as a result. Some of these products may even qualify you for lower home insurance rates.


Excerpted from Green Home Improvement, available through RSMeans.


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