As we step forward into 2019, eco-friendly “green homes” are more popular than ever. Upgrading your home’s sustainability improves quality of life for those residing in it, but it is also a savvy long-term investment. As green homes become more popular, properties boasting sustainable features have become increasingly desirable targets for homebuyers. Whether designing a new home from scratch or preparing your current home for sale, accentuating a house with environmentally-friendly features can pay big dividends for everyone.
While the added value depends on the location of the home, its age, and whether it’s certified or not, three separate studies all found that newly constructed, Energy Star, or LEED-certified homes typically sell for about nine percent more than comparable, non-certified new homes. Plus, one of those studies discovered that existing homes retrofitted with green technologies, and certified as such, can command a whopping 30-percent sales-price boost.
There are dozens of eco-friendly features that can provide extra value for you as a seller. To name a few:
Cool roofs keep the houses they’re covering as much as 50 to 60 degrees cooler by reflecting the heat of the sun away from the interior, allowing the occupants to stay cooler and save on air-conditioning costs. The most common form is metal roofing. Other options include roof membranes and reflective asphalt shingles.
Fuel cells may soon offer an all-new source of electricity that would allow you to completely disconnect your home from all other sources of electricity. About the size of a dishwasher, a fuel cell connects to your home’s natural gas line and electrochemically converts methane to electricity. One unit would pack more than enough energy to power your whole home.
For many years, fuel cells have been far too expensive or unreliable. But as technology has improved, so too has reliability. Companies like Home Power Solutions and Redbox Power Systems have increased the reliability of these fuel sources while reducing their size. Much like we’ve seen computers and cell phones shrink in size while improving reliability and power, fuel cells continue to be refined.
A wind turbine (essentially a propeller spinning atop an 80- to 100-foot pole) collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity for your home. And according to the Department of Energy, a small version can slash your electrical bill by 50 to 90 percent.
But before you get too excited, you need to know that the zoning laws in most urban areas don’t allow wind turbines. They’re too tall. The best prospects for this technology are homes located on at least an acre of land, well outside the city limits.
Another way to keep the interior of your house cooler—and save on air-conditioning costs—is to replace your traditional roof with a layer of vegetation (typically hardy groundcovers). This is more expensive than a cool roof and requires regular maintenance, but young, environmentally conscious homeowners are very attracted to the concept.
Combining a heat pump with a standard furnace to create what’s known as a “hybrid heating system” can save you somewhere between 15 and 35 percent on your heating and cooling bills.
Unlike a gas or oil furnace, a heat pump doesn’t use any fuel. Instead, the coils inside the unit absorb whatever heat exists naturally in the outside air, and distributes it via the same ductwork used by your furnace. When the outside air temperature gets too cold for the heat pump to work, the system switches over to your traditional furnace.
Geothermal heating units are like heat pumps, except instead of absorbing heat from the outside air, they absorb the heat in the soil next to your house via coils buried in the ground. The coils can be buried horizontally or, if you don’t have a wide enough yard, they can be buried vertically. While the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of a hybrid, air-sourced system, the cost savings on your energy bills can cover the installation costs in five to 10 years.
Solar panels capture light energy from the sun and convert it directly into electricity. Similarly to wind turbines, your geographical location may determine the feasibility of these installments. Even on cloudy days, however, solar panels typically produce 10-25% of their maximum energy output. For decades, you may have seen these panels sitting on sunny rooftops all across America. But it’s only recently that this energy-saving option has become truly affordable.
In 2010, installing a solar system on a typical mid-sized house would have set the homeowner back $30,000. But as of December 2018, the average cost after tax credits for solar panel installation was just $13,188! Plus, some companies are now offering to rent solar panels to homeowners (the company retains ownership of the panels and sells the homeowner access to the power at roughly 10 to 15 percent less than they would pay their local utility).
Solar water heaters
Rooftop solar panels can also be used to heat your home’s water. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average homeowner who makes this switch should see their water bills shrink by 50 to 80 percent.
Many of the innovative solutions summarized above come with big price tags attached. However, federal, state and local rebates/tax credits can often slash those expenses by as much as 50 percent. So before ruling any of these ideas out, take some time to see which incentives you may qualify for at dsireusa.org and the “tax incentives” pages at Energy.Gov.
Regardless of which option you choose, these technologies will help to conserve valuable resources and reduce your monthly utility expenses. Just as importantly, they will also add resale value that you can leverage whenever you decide it’s time to sell and move on to a new home.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.
The value of a home is more than what it can be bought and sold for – it also lies in how it makes you feel. Security and comfort are vital components, as well as convenience; however, what many buyers are looking for in a home in 2018 are amenities that deliver a luxury experience. With that in mind, we decided to take a look at a few ways a home can add an “experience” that sets itself apart.
- In much of the country, an outdoor swimming pool isn’t that uncommon. The simple luxury of a private space for recreation can be the centerpiece of a home’s charm.
- Expanding that possibility is the indoor-outdoor pool, which segments a pool into a covered, indoor region, as well as an outdoor area.
- Anyone who loves spending time in the water but lives in too cool a climate to use a pool year-round can enjoy an indoor oasis in the winter that flows seamlessly into an outdoor space in the warmer months.
Creative Wine Cellars
- Who among us wouldn’t love a wine cellar? It’s an opportunity for self-expression that echoes back upon centuries of vintage creativity.
- Not every home has the space to build a traditional wine cellar, but a bit of creativity can open the door to other possibilities.
- The underground, spiral cellar, as pictured above, is one way to add a stylish centerpiece to your home that will undoubtedly create a unique experience for your guests.
Outdoor Home Theater
- The indoor home theater is far from passé but building upon that experience with an outdoor theater can take your movie nights to the next level.
- The key to this design is versatility. If you live in a sun-kissed state you can construct a lightly covered space for viewings. An artful canopy or raised trellis can be the enclosure.
- Wetter or dustier climates pose a greater challenge, but a retractable awning is a multi-functional feature that can transform your yard into a private cinema no matter the weather.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.
Summer is fully in gear! Kids are getting out of school, families are making summer vacation plans, and backyard barbecues are on everyone’s minds. This is also a great time of the year to get your house in order and ready for the summer season. The following are a handful of ideas and tips to help you with this process.
Gardening– It’s not too late to start your garden! If you’re thinking of getting your green thumb engaged, just make sure you use starts because many summer harvest vegetables won’t start from seed this late in the season.
Outdoor living– My home has an outdoor space that, like many, suffers in the grey of winter and the rainy spring. To get it properly in the summer spirit I need to get it prepped for hosting. This includes finding outdoor lighting options, updating the seating and cleaning up the barbeque.
BBQ- Make sure your grill is ready to go this season by making sure everything is clean and in working order before you fire it up. In the northwest that includes making sure the fuel lines are spider-web-free. Also, make sure you have propane or charcoal on hand for impromptu dinners.
Clean Windows- Now is a great time to clean your windows, inside and out. Sun shows more dirt and smudges.
Lawn care- Prepare your lawn for the months ahead. Depending on where you live this means different things. Check your sprinkler system to make sure it wasn’t damaged over the winter; upgrade your lawn care to ensure fuller greens, check for and remove moss to prevent dead patches and start your weeding regimen.
Pool prep- If you have an outdoor pool get this ready for a summer season of fun in the sun, (unless you are lucky enough to enjoy your pool year-round). Same goes for hot-tubs. Make sure your equipment has been serviced, chemicals are available and your pool is clean and ready to use. OR, head to the local hardware store and buy your kiddie pool now before they run out!
Summerize- Check or replace AC filters, window screens, and household fans to make sure these are all functioning and will help provide maximum circulation in your house. Consider installing an attic fan or vent to help pull heat out of your home all winter long. Pack away excess cold weather items such as heavy blankets, jackets, and other items so they aren’t in your way. Same goes for any sundry items you only use during fall and winter.
Lighten the Space- Though I likely won’t spend much time inside once the mercury rises, I want to keep the house as light and cool as possible. I have found that replacing the curtains with a lighter shade lets the light in, but also keeps the rooms from overheating from sun exposure. Summer always makes me want to lighten up with the accessories- lighter colors, more whites, bright accents and less clutter.
Rearrange – Freshen up spaces by rearranging some of your wall art. If you don’t have enough wall pieces to rearrange regularly it may be time to add to your collection. You can find inexpensive original art online at stores such as Etsy or in person at local galleries. You can always play with other items like framed images from books, vintage posters or record albums. Here are some terrific ideas for using what you have to add interest to a room.
Air it out- Open all the windows, shake out the rugs and update home fragrances to fit summer moods (citrus, freesia, clean linen, coconut, melon, fruits and tropical, etc.). You can create your own diffuser with essential oils to distribute fragrance. This may be more symbolic than practical but it always makes me feel ready for summer.
Paint- If you have a room you really want to refresh, a three-day weekend is a good time to take on a project of scale, so you have plenty of time to prep, paint, dry, and clean up. Painting is one of the least expensive ways to really transform how a room feels. Need help picking colors and paint type? Here is some good advice.
Garage or Basement- Tackle a big space that makes a big difference. Our garages and basements often become year-long dumping grounds for seasonal decorations and clothing, items that don’t fit in cabinets, memorabilia and maintenance tools. Go through your items and sort by keep, throw out and donate/sell and then group your keeps by function. Make sure your tools are accessible for easy gardening and entertaining by making sure your tools are accounted for, ready to go, and easy to reach. Here is a useful video on garage organization.
Yard/Garage Sale- If you have overflow at your house, plan a yard/garage sale to get rid of items you no longer need or want. Just make sure to pack everything up and donate it at the end of the sale otherwise you are just letting the clutter back in!
Plan a party- Once your space is all cleaned up and redecorated you will want to show it off! Plan a summer BBQ, dinner party, pool party, picnic or any other gathering.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.
As we celebrate our 45th anniversary here at Windermere, we’re feeling a bit nostalgic. The fundamentals of helping our clients buy and sell homes haven’t changed much over the past 45 years, but the way we decorate our homes sure has. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore interior design trends from the past four decades—the good (farmhouse sinks), the bad (macramé owls), and the ill-advised (carpeted bathrooms!).
|Inspired by the hippie movement, interior design in the 1970s centered around bringing the outdoors inside. Wood paneling could be found in bedrooms and basements alike, and wood accents adorned appliances in the kitchen.
Earth tones dominated throughout the house. If your refrigerator wasn’t avocado or burnt sienna and your shag carpet wasn’t harvest gold, you were not keeping up with the times.
|In the 1980s, we wanted to make homes as cozy as possible, which for a lot of folks meant chintz, Laura Ashley–inspired florals, and tons of pastels.
The “country” look gained huge popularity during this decade as well. Even high-rise city apartments were filled with objects that seemed more at home on a ranch in Texas, including bleached cow skulls and weathered-wood dining tables and chairs.
|Perhaps as a reaction to the excess of the decade before, the 1990s saw a rise in Japanese-inspired minimalism. Sparsely furnished rooms with rock gardens, clean lines, and simple colors were all the rage.
On the opposite end of that spectrum was the shabby chic craze. Distressed furniture, soft colors, and oversized textiles combined to create this look.
Texturized walls were also a big hit. Wall paper and paint brushes were out, and sponges became the way to get the chicest look for your home.
|It’s hard to believe, but we’re nearly a decade out from the early aughts. And that perspective makes it easier to spot trends that felt of-the-moment only a few years ago but are waning in popularity today. One example is Tuscan-style kitchens. It seemed every new home—especially homes on the upper end of the market—included a kitchen with stone tiles, granite countertops, hanging vines, and beige and tan tones.
Another popular item from the early 2000s that is now facing a bit of a backlash is mason jars. Once a staple of homes looking to incorporate a rustic feel, mason jars are now so common in decorating both homes and restaurants that they no longer feel special or nostalgic.
|Trends are always evolving, but if you’re looking for some cutting-edge interior design ideas for 2018, here are a couple to consider.
Embrace super saturated colors, especially warmer tones like yellow and red. These bold hues no longer need to be saved for accent pieces like pillows or lamps. Larger pieces of furniture and entire walls make a bigger splash.
Incorporate geometric patterns. There’s really no wrong way to get on board with this trend. Whether your couch features large circles, you add patterned backsplash in your kitchen, or you cover your ceiling with octagonal wallpaper, geometric shapes will help your home feel fresh.
This post originally appeared on the Windermere.com Blog.