As the green movement gathers steam, many homeowners -- and soon-to-be homeowners -- are exploring ways to become environmentally conscious within their living spaces. Creating a healthier and more energy efficient home not only helps the planet but can also boost your home's value when it comes time to sell. We notice that once there is a desire for more sustainable living, simple actions help create an awareness that then helps shift your daily habits and how you think about the choices you are making, not only in your home, but in your life. And creating a green home isn't as expensive and hard as you may think.
Madison is at the forefront of the Green movement in many ways. Our team of EcoBrokers and agents with the GREEN designation have specialized training to help buyers and sellers (find out how we help here). Our MLS offers a searchable category to search for Green Built and Energy Star homes. And our local REALTORS Association partners with other local associations in hosting an annual Sustainable Showcase every fall. Madison is known for our natural settings and Lakes, Farmers' Markets, amazing parks, bike paths, community building and strong initiative on local businesses and foods. All these factors support the concept that doing your part in creating a greener home is certainly a selling point that will add value.
These days, there are an increasingly wide range of products that offer a variety of environmental values but fall short when it comes to style. As members of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®, however, we have access to many credible sources on the subject, such as Robin Wilson, a pioneer in the eco-friendly design sector, and Vickie Gilstrap, vice president of color and design for Mohawk's Residential Business. They offer the following areas to zero in on when greening your home ... while, of course, being mindful of design.
- Carpet. Did you know that one out of every four recycled plastic bottles is made into carpet? That's more than 3 billion bottles each year! Choose carpet made from renewable or recycled materials. Sergenians Flooring has an innovative program that will keep your old carpet out of the landfill. (Thank you Sergenian's!)
- Paint. Create a cozy space by painting an accent wall in a warm earth tone like cocoa or cinnamon. Choose paint that is non-toxic and contains little or no volatile organic compounds. If your home was built before 1978 read up on new lead regulations before starting your project.
- Pillows. Use certified organic fabrics to create window treatments or accent pillows. You'll be surprised at the variety of colors and patterns available.
- Floors. When choosing hardwood flooring, using reclaimed wood adds a touch of antique, natural beauty to your home. We recommend Eco Friendly Flooring and Habitat ReStore.
- Counters. Look for those made from recycled glass, ceramic or sustainable bamboo. Use them in both your kitchen and your bathroom. The Alvarado Real Estate Group office features a counter top made from pressed sunflower seeds (View our Eco Friendly Work Space Slide Show to see what else we have done).
- Accessories. Don't just throw away your older items -- breathe new life into vintage pieces instead by pairing them with fresh accessories. Reupholster an old arm chair or add an accent pillow to give it a fresh, new look. Or look for accessories at garage sales and resale shops.
- Lighting. Install dimmable compact fluorescent lights, which can consume up to 75% less electricity and last 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. Or open your shades and let the natural sunlight shine in (and check out our blog post on windows and energy savings for more info).
- Bathrooms. A new shower curtain can update the entire look of your bathroom. Opt for nylon, which is one of the more eco-friendly materials available. Learning how to ensure your indoor air quality is healthy, take the time for Green Cleaning and use non toxic cleaning products!
- Faucets/Toilets. Look for faucets with the WaterSense label, which can save the average household more than 500 gallons of water each year and hundreds of dollars in utility bills. If you buy a low water use toilet don't miss out on the City of Madison's great rebate program!
- Bedrooms. Transform your bedroom with eco-friendly bedding. Duvets, shams and linens are available in organic materials and recycled yarn.
Thankfully, manufacturers are answering the consumer demand for eco-friendly products that are also beautifully designed. Be conscious of consumerism and only buy when you need to and when you do - BUY LOCAL! Check for tax rebates too or call us for the most up to date information.
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