For homeowners who want to reduce their environmental footprint, here are a few tips to increase home value and save money at the same time:

1. Seal gaps around doors and windows with caulking and weather-stripping to save energy.
2. Make sure the attic is properly insulated to help stabilize the indoor temperature.
3. Install low-flow sink faucets, shower heads and toilets to save water.
4. Maintain the sprinkler system to reduce water waste from leaky unadjusted spigots.
5. Use low VOC paints, carpets, and natural cleansers to improve indoor air quality.

By making these simple upgrades, collectively homeowners can have a positive impact on the environment; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, when factoring in electricity use, residential and commercial buildings emitted 35 percent of all greenhouse gases in the U.S in 2011. That's more than cars and trucks, which emitted 28 percent. Homes also use a tremendous amount of water; according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, residential homes use 29.40 billion gallons of water per day. By completing "green" upgrades, homeowners can reduce the amount of water and electricity (and associated greenhouse gases) required to run their home.

Homeowners can also save money on their water, electricity and gas bills. According to Energy.gov, the typical U.S. family spends at least $2,000 a year on home utility bills. By taking measures to increase energy efficiency and reduce water waste, homeowners can reduce these costs significantly. Homes with green certifications such as GreenPoint, EarthCraft, ENERGY STAR®, or LEED have the potential to use 20-30 percent less energy and water than homes built using conventional standards.

Eco-friendly upgrades can also increase the value of a home. A recent study by UCLA and Maastricht University, found that homes in California with a green certification label sell for an average of 9 percent more than comparable homes without a certification. The Earth Advantage Institute found similar results in Portland and Seattle.

To help homeowners pay for these upgrades, there are a variety of city, county, state and utility rebates, as well as some federal and state tax credits and loan options available. More information on various incentives available in each state can be found in the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, or DSIRE.

Source: Redfin

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