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Nature and Environment

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Low-Cost, High-Efficiency Home Improvements that Pay Off

Homeowners (and renters) are increasingly interested in making green home improvements, and they’re particularly interested in knowing which improvements have a clear payback—i.e., a decent Return on Investment (ROI)—and can be made with minimal investment.

Here are some commonly agreed upon suggestions for relatively easy and low-cost home retrofitting projects that reap surefire savings (in energy, water, and dollars):

Green Sense for the HomeFor other ideas and helpful cost/benefit assessments, check out this recently published book: Green Sense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects, by Eric Corey Freed and Kevin Daum

(Taunton Press, April 2010). Here’s the publisher’s description of the book: “When does a green home project make financial sense? The authors of this book provide the answer to this and other questions relating to the cost (and relative value) of environmentally friendly home improvements. They evaluate a wide array of projects, including insulating pipes, weatherizing doors and windows, composting and recycling trash, installing a solar hot water heater, installing green countertops, upgrading appliances, building with reclaimed materials, and installing radiant heat.”

Other recent books include Green Home Improvement: 65 Projects That Will Cut Utility Bills, Protect Your Health & Help the Environment by Daniel Chiras, PhD (RS Means) and This Green House: Home Improvements for the Eco-Smart, the Thrifty, and the Do-It-Yourselfer by Joshua Piven (Abrams).

A number of federal, state, and local environmental tax credits, rebates, and other financial incentives are available for installing energy-efficient equipment or renewable energy (e.g., solar) technologies at your residence.

For additional information and tips on green home improvements and retrofits, these are some useful online articles and websites, most of which feature lists of improvements that make especially good investments:


Miriam Landman is a sustainability advisor with expertise in green building and green living strategies. She provides email and phone consultations to clients throughout North America. You can learn more about her and her services at her website: M. Landman Communications & Consulting.