Remodeling
Efficient Heating and Cooling
With dramatic increases in energy costs becoming an annual occurrence, many homeowners have come to realize that building in an environmentally friendly way also means making smart decisions that translate into financial savings. New insulation technologies, such as spray-in cellulose insulation, is made from 80-percent postconsumer recycled newspaper and will effectively seal homes from harsh heat and cold. Thermal solar energy is a nonpolluting energy source that is captured easily and used for water and space heating. Although solar water heaters can be expensive ($1,000–4,000), they can show paybacks of four to eight years, according to Austin Energy (www.austinenergy.com). Space-heating systems can vary from $800 for wall heaters to $4,000 and more for large central systems. Qualified remodelers can help homeowners choose the right combination of insulation and energy-saving heating and cooling systems to reduce energy costs.

Reducing Water Consumption
Many parts of the country are now experiencing rising water costs and seasonal water shortages due to diminishing supplies. Selecting the right appliances, such as water-conserving washers, dryers and dishwashers, and installing low-flush toilets and showerheads can reduce the amount of water needed and help trim water bills. In addition, approximately 8,000 gallons of water per household each year are lost while waiting for hot water to come from the tap. Positioning a home’s water heater as close as possible to the points of use for hot water will help conserve this valuable resource.

Healthy Indoor Air
Homeowners today are concerned about maintaining a healthy indoor environment, particularly if they have sensitivities to airborne irritants. Modern building materials, such as construction adhesives, paints and treated woods, can have toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that adversely affect indoor air quality. Today, there are new nontoxic materials that will improve the overall health of a home. Air filters, such as those installed in a homes central HVAC system, also can improve the quality of indoor air.

Sustainable Materials
Reduce the environmental impact of your remodel by choosing flooring and countertop materials made from local or regional sources. There are many products on the market today that are either made of recycled materials or produced in an eco-friendly way. “Green” surfaces, such as reclaimed hardwood, bamboo flooring and recycled-glass countertops leave a lighter footprint on the environment.

Quality Over Quantity
Many homeowners today are opting for slightly smaller homes in exchange for smarter planning and design. Some rooms do double duty as an office or craft room and spare bedroom.

Recycle Construction Waste
Eco-conscious remodelers recycle as much project waste as possible during a home renovation project. For homeowners who want to promote sustainability, NARI remodelers can help homeowners navigate the path to greener living. Green remodeling gives homeowners the chance to combine earth-friendly building concepts with cost-saving solutions. NARI’s approach to green remodeling emphasizes comfort, health and efficiency for a happier home.

LOCAL CODES
Remodel according to local code. Before finalizing the design of your outdoor space, your remodeling contractor should check zoning laws to make sure your outdoor space will be the proper distance from your property line and obtain the necessary permits for the job.

OUTDOOR AMENITIES
Customizable grill islands, much like indoor kitchen islands, can be found in more elaborate outdoor kitchens along with dishwashers and refrigerators that are designed to be used outdoors. Gas patio heaters even make it possible to entertain outside when the weather is chilly. Homeowners also have more options than ever when it comes to outdoor lighting, including sophisticated outdoor lamps that resemble the finest indoor models and intricately designed hanging lights, a far cry from garish plastic light covers strung across a clothesline. Homeowners have a wide range of accessories available to decorate their outdoor kitchens as well, from durable easy-to-care-for furniture, sculptures and fountains to décor items like paintings specially designed for use outdoors.

   
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