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Is Greener Necessarily Cheaper?

By Alicia Murphy | July 23, 2012

Over the past few years there has been a global push toward green improvements. This has taken place at all levels of homeownership from construction to remodeling. While some homeowners go green for the environmental advantages many are looking for greater energy efficiency and therefore greater utility savings. But do all green improvements mean savings?

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Tankless Water Heaters

A trend making its way around the housing circles is the installation of tankless water heaters. These systems are thought to provide an instant and constant supply of hot water as well as lowered utility costs. According to an article by Consumer Reports, however, these claims simply don’t seem to hold water.

While tankless systems have been proven to offer enhanced efficiency over their traditional counterparts their cost and installation expense is what puts them just out of the boundary of being a reasonable investment. Check out this article for more information.

Solar Panels

There has been a lot of talk recently about solar energy, especially in the wake of the Solyndra bankruptcy. Still homeowners remain intrigued by the idea of decreasing or eliminating their dependency on traditional utility sources, and for good reason: over the past few years the amount of after-tax income that families spend on utilities has continued to increase.

While you might find yourself all ready to jump on your roof and strap down some solar panels when you open your monthly utility bill the cost of the panels and installation could give you pause. According to an article on the starting price for installation of a solar panel system is $5000.00, no small amount of money for the average homeowner.

The article does go on to mention that the investment should pay off with adequate conditions (proper sun exposure, system function, etc.) over a 5-10 year period. It’s also possible to recoup some of the start-up cost through federal and state rebates for this type of improvement. Click here for more information on investing in solar energy.

An important thing to remember about making green improvements with financial return in mind is how long you intend to inhabit the property. With most green updates you’re not likely to see return in utility savings over initial investment for a matter of years, so if you plan on selling soon you might get only a portion of your investment back in the form of property value depending on the particular improvement and your market. While some of these investments might not prove fully financially worthwhile they do decrease your carbon footprint which carries a benefit all its own.

Alicia Murphy is a licensed real estate agent. My freelance writing career began simultaneously with my Real Estate career in 2010.As a Realtor I’ve worked primarily with buyers in finding themtheir dream home and have experience in foreclosure sales, but I've also represented sellers in marketing and selling their homes. As we await the bolstering return of the Real Estate market I will continue to adapt to ever-changing conditions and continue to provide first-rate service to my clients.
  • One comment on “Is Greener Necessarily Cheaper?”

    1. Very good article with some important points. while "green" is good to the extent that we all need to do what we personally can to protect our environment, the "green" movement in housing has become a marketing tool. Even real estate agents are now being told that they need a "green" designation, proclaiming the holder to be an expert in "green" housing. But there is little question that "green" in the modern housing world translates into more expense not less. The systems that facilitate the latest "green" technology are often much more expensive than their "low tech" predecessors. Fewer people have the money for expensive state of the art housing technology. For the rest of us, we need simple, money saving ideas. (a permanent "green" tax credit would help too)
      My personal favorite is the straw bale houses found out west in the desert. They can be simple or elegant. They are built from inexpensive, easy to acquire materials, and provide a very high "R" value for dealing with the hot, dry desert climate.

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