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What green home renovations add value?

eco friendly homes

Do green home renovations add value to your home? It’s a question you might be wondering if you’ve ever considered sustainability in your home. While the market for green homes is still emerging, green home renovations do indeed add value to your home. In a study issued by Build it Green, green homes sold for an average of $18,751 more than homes that didn’t have green features like energy-efficient HVAC systems, solar panels, or electric car charging stations. That said, not all green home renovations are created equal, and if you are considering upgrading your home’s energy efficiency, several projects will net you the most bang for your buck.

Green renovations with the best ROI

One of the best ways to build equity in a home is to renovate it. There are several foolproof renovations that almost always add value to your home, like new kitchens and bathrooms. Granite countertops and waterfall showerheads can be eye-catching, but for some buyers, it’s the home’s bones that count for more. For these buyers, selling features like a recently replaced roof, or green renovations make a more significant difference in the value of the home. 

New doors and windows

Easily one of the more expensive green renovations on this list, replacing old, drafty doors and windows with new, energy-efficient ones, has many benefits beyond just saving you hundreds of dollars per year in energy costs. This renovation has one of the best returns on investment because it will improve your home’s safety and curb appeal. Replacing your home’s doors and windows is an expensive project, ranging in cost from $400 – $900 per window. The total cost will depend on the quality and type of windows you choose, but many provinces have rebate programs available to soften the financial blow.

ENERGY STAR rated appliances

Your home’s appliances account for about 13% of your home’s energy usage, and upgrading them will cut down on the amount of electricity it takes to keep your food cold and your meals hot. As a bonus, if you have white or almond coloured appliances, upgrading to ENERGY STAR rated modern stainless steel appliances will give your kitchen’s appeal a boost too. Just like windows, appliances can range from relatively inexpensive (for example, the refrigerators offered by Home Depot start at $700) to extremely high-end.

Big box stores frequently have significant mark-downs, so price comparing and shopping around are recommended. Fortunately, you won’t have to pay a professional company to install appliances, as most are simply plug and play. Finally, if your delivery fee does not include removing the old machines, many provinces have efficiency organizations that will perform this service free of charge.

Tankless water heaters

If you’ve ever run out of hot water while showering before, you can appreciate that upgrading to a tankless water heater has more benefits than just saving you 30% on your water heating costs. Tankless water heaters warm water instantaneously as it is required, unlike a standard water heater, which warms a finite supply of hot water within a tank. This upgraded technology means your potential buyers will rest easy knowing that no matter how many showers they take or loads of laundry they do, they’ll never run out of hot water.

Green renovation with the worst ROI

green homes

Not all green renovations are worth their investment. Some are just too expensive, or their uses are too narrow that the “Cost vs. Value” equation doesn’t add up for the average buyer. We’re not saying you shouldn’t tackle these renovations if they add value to your lifestyle, but don’t expect them to boost the value of your home.

Bathtub removal

While this list could be quite long, one of the most common green renovations is to remove your home’s bathtub in favour of a walk-in shower with a low-flow showerhead. While this renovation will certainly save on your home’s water bill, homes tend to lose value when key features like bathtubs are removed. If your home has more than one bathroom and at least one of them has a tub, the impact will be decreased. To avoid this mistake, install a low-flow showerhead, but skip the bathtub removal.

Tips for maximizing your green home’s sales price

important renovations

If you’ve done green renovations to your home and you’re ready to put in on the market, you’ll need to follow these simple steps to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck.

#1: Educate your real estate agent

Your real estate agent’s job is to sell your home for the highest price possible. To do that, they should be well versed in the home’s selling features. Compile a list of your home’s recent upgrades and renovations, and ensure they are included on the listing.

#2: Obtain an EnerGuide rating

There is a program in Canada designed to instantly signal would-be buyers how energy efficient your home is, and this program is called the EnerGuide program. While this program extends beyond just home sales, in this scenario, you would have your home evaluated by a home energy advisor. When the evaluation is complete, the home energy advisor will give your home an EnerGuide rating. The higher the score, the more energy-efficient your home.

Many factors go into choosing which home renovations to tackle, including cash flow, your personal priorities, and environmental impact. If you don’t plan to live in your home forever, you should also consider resale value. If you’re anticipating future green home renovations, sticking to the list above will ensure that you have a comfortable, energy-efficient, and sale-able home.

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Jordann Brown

Jordann Brown is a marketing and communications professional living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. As the owner of an 83-year-old cottage, and with a passion for renewable energy, Jordann spends much of her time working on home renovations. Founder of the popular personal finance blog, My Alternate Life, Jordann has been featured in many notable publications including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, CTV News and CBC.