Going Green: Easier Than You May Think

Written by Posted On Thursday, 13 December 2007 16:00

Green may not be your favorite decorating color, but the concept of making your home environmentally green is growing in popularity as more homeowners realize that they can also save a little more green in their wallets.

The first thing to understand is that you don't have to buy a new, already green home or build a custom home to go green. There are everyday things that can be done that will not only save you some money in the operating costs of running your home but also may make your home more attractive when you want to sell it.

"Going green doesn't have to be painful. It doesn't have to cost you more money. It's more than just changing one fluorescent light bulb. It's an important consideration," says interior designer, Abbey Koplovitz.

"If you build from scratch, you're doing a residential renovation, and you build using green materials, it is going to cost you 20 to 30 percent more but again, you're already spending say $400,000, what's a little more," says Koplovitz.

But when it comes to making an existing home green, it's a lot cheaper since you often build that cost into the routine maintenance. Then the only thing is to routinely make your choice for materials be green.

"Buy a low-flow toilet. Buy a washer and dryer or a dishwasher that uses less water. A lot of my clients think about these things because they decrease the cost to run the home," says Koplovitz.

"So if you're going to buy stainless steel appliances to help sell your house because the kitchen might be a little tired, buy something that's Energy Star rated," says Koplovitz.

When you start your green-home project, first think about and identify what your priorities are. Is cost the main concern? Are you trying to eliminate a problem such as allergies by going green? Are you concerned about the environment and want to make sure the products you buy come from environmentally-friendly manufacturers?

"Typically you have to give something up. So I always tell my clients, 'What really is the most important thing to you?' If price-point is the most important thing to you, then that limits your choice of products. If color range of choices of flooring is really important to you, and you want to be environmentally green, you kind of go down different paths. So I think it's really important to identify what your goals are and how you want to be green," says Koplovitz.

She says that homeowners who have children with allergies will typically be concerned with air quality. So they'll go green by changing flooring or paint.

"You can get paints that are low or no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)," says Koplovitz.

But simple knowledgeable choices can keep you allergy-free and help the environment at the same time.

Koplovitz says avoid vinyl at all costs because it gives off toxic gasses. "If allergies are a concern, a really great product is linoleum; true linoleum doesn't increase your price-point very much and it's hypo-allergenic," says Koplovitz.

"If you have wood floors and you need to get them refinished or if you're putting in wood floors, you can go with latex finishes on them. Or, if you're doing carpeting, and you're not allergic to wool, there are many wool projects on the market that are made without a harsh chemical adhesive and harsh chemical processing," explains Koplovitz.

Most people paint their homes every five to 10 years. So one way that people can really contribute to the environment without spending a lot of extra money is by buying paints that have low or no VOC.

"Those are now readily available at all the major manufacturers of paint. So you don't even have to travel very far to get them," says Koplovitz.

To go green, you don't have to do it all at once. But as routine maintenance needs arise, think environmentally green when it comes to choosing materials and products and you'll likely save some money and take pride in doing your part to help protect the environment.

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website: www.LiveFitMagazine.com.

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

Contact Phoebe at (858) 259-3646 or phoebe@livefitmagazine.com. Visit PhoebeChongchua.com for more information.

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