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Green House Renovations Cloquet MN

Let’s face it. This is not an easy time to sell a house. Improving your home’s energy efficiency is always a good idea, but when you’re getting ready to sell, a few simple, green fix-ups could help put a sold sign on your lawn.

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Six Green Strategies for Selling Your Home

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Let’s face it. This is not an easy time to sell a house. Improving your home’s energy efficiency is always a good idea, but when you’re getting ready to sell, a few simple, green fix-ups could help put a sold sign on your lawn.
You don’t need to install solar panels or have your home certified by a green building program to sell it in a green market, says Michael Kiefer of Green DC Realty in Washington, D.C. However, notes Kiefer, who specializes in selling green homes, you should highlight the energy efficient and environmentally friendly features in your home. For example, a listing for a recently sold 120-year-old Capitol Hill row house simply said, “This home has been renovated using sustainable materials and with energy efficiency in mind, allowing you to feel more comfortable in your home while reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money.”
Kiefer taps into his experience in the green marketplace to offer six simple strategies you can use to make an existing home more appealing to energy-conscious buyers, no matter where you live.

1 Appliances Matter
Kiefer recommends that sellers upgrade to new appliances that have the Energy Star label. “Everyone looks for the Energy Star symbol, because it is by far the best-known environmental label out there across the industry,” says Kiefer. He compares Energy Star ratings for appliances to miles per gallon listings for cars, because the ratings make it easy for customers to understand how efficient a particular appliance will be.
Upgrading appliances is an improvement that requires a cash investment before you place your home on the market, Kiefer acknowledges, but he also notes “Energy Star [products] do [help homes] sell.”
If you already have an Energy Star refrigerator, you can still do a quick fix-up with some cleaning supplies. Simply cleaning your fridge’s coils twice a year can increase its efficiency, says Kiefer. Instructions on cleaning fridge coils are usually included in the owner’s manual. While you’re at it, remove crumbs and dust bunnies lurking beneath and beside your fridge to help keep coils clean. It is likely potential buyers won’t notice how clean the floor is beside your fridge in a walk-through, but if they do, they will be impressed.

2 Take a Look at Your Windows
Replacing older windows is a toss-up for sellers, says Kiefer, who admits that installing new energy-efficient windows throughout your home can be pricey. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the heat lost through windows can account for 10 to 25 percent of your heating bill. New windows can reduce heat loss but can cost several thousand dollars, depending on how many you replace and the type of the new windows.
In general, the cost of new windows is regained in energy savings over the long term. On the other hand, new windows do increase property value. Kiefer recommends giving window replacement serious consideration if you have single-pane windows or if a window is inoperable. If you have double-paned windows or decent existing storm windows, then the money may be better spent in other areas.
If you don’t replace your old windows, Kiefer says it is important to make sure all your windows open and have screens, so energy-conscious buyers can envision opening the windows in pleasant weather instead of running the air conditioning. He also suggests good blinds. They look attractive and can reduce solar heat gain inside the home during the warmer months.

3 Suit up Your Water Heater
Kiefer recommends insulating hot water pipes and old hot water tanks to achieve energy savings in older homes. Wrapping insulating tape or placing an insulating sleeve around an exposed hot water pipe leading away from your tank may increase the temperature of hot water coming out of your faucets by 2 to 4 degrees, according to the DOE. With hotter water coming out of the tap, you will use less hot water or can turn down the temperature on the tank.
When deciding whether or not to insulate the hot water tank itself, check the manual. The DOE cautions that some newer models may already be adequately insulated, with R-values above 24, and manufacturers of some models advise against installing insulating blankets.
If your water heater is an older model that is warm to the touch, you might want to investigate the feasibility of adding a blanket or jacket. It will cost you less than $25 and can reduce the energy required by your water heater by up to 25 percent. Just be sure to follow the instructions. Installing an insulating blanket on an electric water heater is fairly simple. A gas water heater is trickier. The DOE recommends having a professional heating contractor install insulating blankets or jackets on gas or oil-fired water heaters.

4 Weekend Projects: Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans and programmable thermostats can improve the performance of your home’s heating and cooling systems. “Buyers really love seeing new ceiling fans in a home,” Kiefer says. Ceiling fans cost about $120 each and can be installed as a weekend project.

5 Weekend Projects: Thermostats
Programmable thermostats cost between $50 and $150 and are relatively easy to install as well. (See our new DIY project “Installing a Programmable Thermostat” on page 17.)

6 Change Those Bulbs
One of the easiest ways to save on your utility bills and improve your home’s green appearance is to replace all incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). This is a no-brainer, Kiefer notes. According to the DOE, lighting accounts for approximately 11 percent of a home’s energy budget. By replacing incandescent bulbs with CFLs, homeowners can reduce lighting energy costs by as much as 50 to 75 percent. Any visible CFLs will also be visual reminders to prospective homebuyers of your efforts to incorporate energy savings into your home.

Show It Off
Once you’ve made small energy-saving changes to your home, it’s time show it off. Most prospective buyers visit to literally look at your home, and some real estate agents are more well-versed in energy-saving improvements than others. With that in mind, it is important to make sure the changes you’ve made are visually obvious, Kiefer says.
One way to do that is to place neatly written or typed cue cards throughout the house to draw attention to your green renovations and upgrades. Another way is to include all energy-saving features on an energy efficiency list and leave it out for potential buyers to review.
Rather than printing lots of fliers for visitors to take home, Kiefer prefers to create a property website that includes photos, an online energy efficiency list and descriptions of any other green or notable home improvements. To direct buyers to the websites of his clients, he distributes business cards that include the street address of the home and its website URL. Your agent should also mention your energy efficiency upgrades in the home’s real estate listing.
Displaying your utility bills is still one of the best ways to convince buyers your home is green, Kiefer notes. If you worry about sharing your account number, you can black out the number while leaving the address visible. If you made recent renovations to improve energy efficiency, before and after utility bills can speak volumes about the value of those new renovations. Visual evidence of energy savings can sometimes make the sale — or may even convince you to stay in your home.

Jan Ferrigan has written about green homes and green living for both print and the Web. She’s based in Charlottesville, Va.

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