Modernize’s Tips on Green Projects That Will Increase Your ROI

by Lauren PezzulloMarch 14, 2017

Welcome to the new world of home buying! At Modernize, we’re constantly looking for new technologies and adaptations that are both good for the Earth — and worth the value they provide. All too often, these green improvements end up costing homeowners a lot of their own green in the process, without offering much in the way of returns. With that in mind, we put together a list of some of the best projects we’ve seen—initiatives that look as good on your bank statement as they do on paper. Read on for the full scoop below.

These Panels Make Solar Energy Look Good

Solar providers are no strangers to incredulous looks—when they quote homeowners the number for a new solar energy system, the first reaction is often disbelief. And while it’s true that solar panels are probably never going to be classified as cheap, fast forward to a few years from now, when you’re looking to sell, and you’ll see the benefits on your closing costs.

Here at Modernize, we connect homeowners with trusted pros specializing in a variety of home improvements, including solar energy systems, so we know just how valuable solar panels are for your ROI. In fact, homes with solar energy systems receive an average 17 percent premium on their sales price, compared with similar homes with conventional energy sources. The “solar effect” is even greater if you live in a metropolitan area, or anywhere else with higher utility bills. In many cases, rebates and government incentives make solar installations one of the few home improvements you can make that has an above-100 percent ROI.

And we couldn’t be more excited about how the perception of solar is changing. Sustainability continues to be a big trend with this year’s homebuyers, who are eager to snap up homes with modern energy-efficient features. As the market for green has grown, we’ve begun to see solar taking shape as an architectural element. For instance, some solar providers now offer roof-integrated solar energy systems. Sandwiched between two panels of laminated glazing, these units work in fluid harmony with existing roofs, rather than standing out as boxy, mounted structures. A home with building-integrated PV could soon be worth thousands of dollars more than comparable nonrenewable homes.

Replacement Doors and Windows Have More in Store Than Curbside Appeal

Over the past decade, much of builders’ energy has gone into devising tighter building envelopes and seals — and for good reason. While modern walls can achieve insulation R-values of 60 or more, even the most efficient windows barely get over R-4. That means that if your windows or doors are warped, aging, or failing, your energy bills are probably through the roof—while your heating and air conditioning goes straight out the window.

Today’s windows have a lot more going on than just some glass, a frame, and some caulk. At Modernize, we’re particularly fond of high-performance glazings like those in Low-E windows—and so are the homeowners we serve! These glazings prevent both heat loss and solar heat gain, using microscopically thin coatings that reflect heating and cooling back inside a building’s interiors. Innovations like thermal spacers make insulated glass more efficient, while on the installation front, airtight joining prevents drafts that can lower overall HVAC performance.
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Windows and doors perform particularly well on cost-versus-value reports—our homeowners are consistently happy with these projects. Both not only have the value of energy savings on their side, they also improve a home’s curbside appeal—which counts when potential buyers make their first visit. Almost all windows and doors average in the high 60s to 70 percent for ROI, particularly if they improve a home’s visuals. The better it looks from the drive, the faster it sells.

Landscaping for a Water-Challenged Era

Another project that ranks high in the “biggest-bang-for-your-buck” category is tasteful landscaping. A few shrubs and pavers is a relatively low price to pay for the impression they’ll make on go-sees.

Here at Modernize, we’re passionate about green living, and it’s an important focus of what we do. And with recent news so focused on climate change and drought, we’ve seen firsthand how water efficiency has become a huge trend in the landscaping community. Most homeowners still prefer some turf, so it’s probably not wise to swap out all of your conventional lawn for a xeriscaped wonderland. However, a patch of native grasses, succulents, or tough perennials makes for an eye-catching bed or border—while netting you points for a low water footprint. However, because most homeowners won’t know that information off-hand, make sure to have your realtor point it out when he or she is showing prospectives around.

Boosting AC Energy Savings With High SEER HVAC Units

Here’s an interesting tidbit about modern HVAC performance: today’s units use less than a third of the energy required by 90s-era air conditioners. That means that if your AC has been hanging around since the finale of Friends, you could be wasting a whole lot of electricity just staying cool.

In those days, it wasn’t uncommon for ACs to come rated at 10 SEER (short for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) which measures how efficient the unit is. Now, installers aren’t fazed to see SEER ratings as high as 24 or 25—well over twice the efficiency of those older units. High SEER ACs don’t come cheap, but they’re one of the fastest ways you can cut your energy bills, particularly if you live in an area with a long cooling season.

Of course, the change will be meaningless if you don’t have great efficiency in your ducts, too. Make sure your salesperson sells you the right sized unit for your home—bigger isn’t necessarily better here. And have your installer check ducts and seals for leaks and gaps that can hinder AC performance—we’ve seen firsthand and through the homeowners we serve just how much energy this can save.

There’s never been a better time to green up your home — after all, homeowners that stay ahead of the curve often reap the rewards on their sale prices. A happier Earth and a fatter bottom line? Sign us up!


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About The Author
Lauren Pezzullo
Lauren Pezzullo is a writer, editor, and musicophile who's passionate about vegetarianism and sustainable eating. As an editor for Modernize, she writes about energy-efficient living in the home. She's currently writing her debut novel.

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