I was reading an article on home improvements the other day in “Smart Money” Magazine. The authors wrote, “Energy-efficient home upgrades are the textbook example of green economics.” They say that the typical solar power installation costs about $24,000, and usually pays for itself in about a decade. But they go on to say that there are often hidden costs that most people do not anticipate in their calculations. That even though you may not use any electricity, you still must pay the electric company a service charge, in their example, $240 per year to stay connected to the grid. In addition, the insurance premiums for the improved home went up about $100 per year, and then the regular maintenance of the system is another $100 or so per year for materials. Then there is the replacement of defective parts that will likely occur, like the solar converter that transforms the solar power into electricity and will likely have to be replaced at least once, maybe even twice -- at $2,500 per unit. All in all it still may be a viable long-term investment, but you need to look at all the costs to make a proper evaluation.
They go on to say that there really has not been much bang for the buck with people installing “Green” products to improve the resale of their homes. It is still too early to tell, especially with the newness of many of these products, and the lack of public awareness of some of their value and potential. In addition, the housing meltdown certainly has slowed any recognition of the return on investment for green products in homes on the market for resale.
Then there are many products that are said to be “Green” but may be to new to the market and really un-tested as far as reliability. One example is bamboo-flooring marketed as a renewable option for wood, which, if of a proper age when harvested performs well, but if harvested too young, is soft and marks up easily. The article goes on to hybrid cars and home appliances, addressing payback on investment and some surprises on the basic value on some. Another example mentioned is high-efficiency washing machines that have a minimal additional cost, but some consumers are saying they have to do their wash multiple times to get their wash clean, which negates any energy savings they had hoped for.
This brings me to energy savings from other home-improvement products – high performance windows and doors. They really do have a return on investment and, with their energy- saving value, you can make the argument that you are paying for new windows whether or not you have them, so you may as well go ahead and get them. Be more comfortable in your home, have a more aesthetically pleasing home, and enjoy the energy savings to help pay you back on the investment. They require little to no maintenance, you don’t have to wash them twice to get them clean, and there are no hidden fees or charges to get you into trouble in the future. Plus, it’s a proven fact that they add to the re-sell value of homes.
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