Making your home Earth-friendly is easier than you might think and will save you money, increase your home's value and quicken your resale, says Bob Glaser, chief executive officer of Smith & Associates Real Estate.
"From landscaping to interior decorating to appliance selection, there are definite choices you can make to ensure your home is environmentally responsible, while increasing your home's value," Glaser says.
For the most part, what you spend initially, you will get back in savings on utilities and eventually, on resale of your home, says Glaser, who lives in the Channel District and often forgoes his car to bike and walk.
According to a 2001 survey by building trades group Cahners Residential, nearly 80 percent of consumers listed environmentally friendly features as a consideration when purchasing a home.
Glaser says "green" building is becoming the norm. At the recent International Homebuilding Convention, the theme throughout was incorporating environmentally-friendly features into every project, he says. Rising energy costs, concerns about environmental degradation and stricter building codes are contributing to the growth, Glaser says.
"Environmentally-friendly construction means that designers and builders commit to minimizing waste, improving a building's water and energy efficiency, using sustainable or recycled products and protecting indoor air quality," Glaser says.
There are many ways to make a home more environmentally friendly.
Glaser says durable stone, wood and clay are preferable to carpet and other non-natural materials that may quickly erode. Clay tiles keep a home cooler in summer and warmer in winter due to their porous nature, he says.
Energy savings are key in any home, Glaser says. Owners and buyers can insulate, buy Energy Star appliances, invest in double-pane windows, use two air conditioning units in larger homes to reduce waste and, when natural gas is available, install "on demand" tankless water heaters to achieve savings, Glaser suggests.
He also advises installing a timer on a traditional hot water heater so you can turn it off when it's not in use.
Floridians will appreciate that compact fluorescent bulbs emit 75 percent less heat than incandescent ones. Plus, using compact fluorescent bulbs will increase efficiency by 75 percent over incandescent ones, resulting in a savings of $30 in electricity costs per the life of the bulb, according to www.energystar.gov.
Harnessing power from the sun "is very doable, and in some cases is not a huge investment" says Stacy Rosende, vice president of Element Construction, builder of a "green" home in South Tampa for sale by Smith & Associates. She adds that homes can be designed to hide solar panels and water heating systems, if appearance is a concern.
In the kitchen, concrete counter tops, instead of stone or granite, are an excellent choice because concrete is recyclable and can be finished with mineral oil or butcher's wax instead of petroleum-based sealers, she says.
If you're looking to remodel or rebuild, Glaser suggests following LEED Certification standards, available through the U.S. Green Building Council, www.usbgc.org.
Glaser says Realtors at Smith & Associates are trained and passionate about earth-friendly living and are eager to offer buyers and sellers suggestions. "Green' is very relevant to every part of our lifestyle and vital for a thriving city."
Smith & Associates has specialized in luxury housing for 39 years and has offices throughout the Tampa Bay area. Visit www.smithandassociates.com for more green tips or call (813) 839-3800.