Complete Your Green Home Improvement Plans With Beautiful Flooring

Green home improvement schemes have never been more popular than they currently are in the UK – with everyone from politicians to environmental charities to television programmes advising us on the ways we can live a lifestyle that is less damaging to the planet.

And there are plenty of reasons for setting yourself a project that will see you making your home greener – not only will this see you lowering your household’s carbon footprint, but also your annual utility bills.

Indeed, can there be any better feeling than knowing that you are reducing your carbon emissions and helping to preserve the planet for future generations, while also saving some of your hard-earned cash?

No matter what level of DIY expertise you have, you will find a job that is suitable for your skills level.

For example, simply filling in gaps and cracks around doors and windows could save you a few pounds, while it takes no skill at all to turn down the thermostat by one degree – but this could see you lowering your annual heating bills by ten per cent.

However, if you really want to invest in making your property greener, an entire central heating overhaul is one of the best ways to do it.

A household’s boiler makes up 60 per cent of a family’s annual energy bills – meaning that if you are still putting up with an old and unreliable model it is really time to consider a change.

Condensing boilers are among the most popular green options available on the domestic market and more people than ever before are investing in them.

The device is able to convert more of its fuel into usable heat for the home, rather than losing it, meaning that it produces less harmful emissions and also sees you paying less money to power it. In addition, its age means that it poses a reduced risk to your family than an item that is decades-old.

As with all gas appliances, if you have decided to splash out on a new boiler, it is vital that you contact only the correct tradesmen to do the work – all boiler engineers working in England and Wales must by law be members of the Gas Safe Register and boast the necessary qualifications to carry out the job they have been hired to do.

While they are revamping your central heating system with a new boiler, you could also ask these professionals about the benefits of having heating controls installed.

These products allow you to exercise more control over your radiators, choosing when they should come on and in what rooms – another great way to save money.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to giving your property a green overhaul!

Insulation is one of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon emissions, as it means less heat escapes from your home, so you can have your central heating set to a lower temperature, safe in the knowledge you are not wasting power.

Double glazing and cavity wall insulation are among the most effective ways of achieving a greener home – but every little job can make a difference.

For example, installing insulation under the floor can see you saving as much as £50 every year – and you could add another £20 to that figure by filling in any gaps or cracks you spot.

But, for a floor that is both aesthetically pleasing and good for the planet, there are many options available to you.

If you have decided to go one step further than simply insulating your floor by getting an altogether new one, you will find there is plenty to choose from.

Cork is a popular choice as the tiny air pockets it is full of makes it a great insulator – while it is also springy under foot, making it comfortable to walk on.

Bamboo is another choice – it looks good and is also less damaging to the planet than real wood as it comes from a fast growing grass that can be harvested at a rapid rate.

However if you have your heart set on hardwood floors, this option is still available to you. You could search for some recycled material to fashion into beautiful new floorboards, or choose wood that has come certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council.

Once the work is complete, you are sure to get even more enjoyment from your new floors knowing that not only do they look good but that they are helping the planet too – just one of the brilliant aspects of your new green home.

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Green Home Improvements: Take Advantage of Tax Credits for Energy-Saving Home Improvements

Green home improvements have been encouraged in recent years through the offering of tax incentives. For people interested in making their homes more energy efficient and gaining the tax benefits at the same time, here are some tips to help you understand what types of green home improvements qualify for a tax credit and how to make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to earn your benefit.

Some green home tax credits are expiring at the end of 2010. Although we are approaching year-end, there is still time to take advantage of some of these money-saving incentives for energy-saving home improvements, but you must hurry.

Tax credits are offered on a wide range of green home improvements and upgrades. Some are very inexpensive to do; other can be quite costly even with the tax credit. Here is a summary of what is available for 2010.

The simplest and least expensive energy-saving home improvement that qualifies is adding insulation. Insulation for your attic can be purchased for no more than $50 to $100, and if you install it yourself (which is fairly easy and straightforward to do) there is no additional cost. This will earn you a tax credit of 30% of the cost.

For more expensive investments, tax credits of 30% of the cost, up to a maximum credit of $1500, are available now for the purchase and installation energy efficient furnaces and air conditioning units, energy efficient windows and doors, and water heaters. The credit includes the cost of materials and also the cost of installation for all these items except for the installation on doors and windows (don’t ask me why windows and doors are excluded; it makes no sense, but that is the law).

It is important to remember that these tax credits apply only to your primary residence. Second homes and rental homes and apartments do not qualify for the items listed above.

But I have saved the best part for last. There are even better tax benefits available for rooftop solar panel arrays, small residential wind turbines, and geothermal heat pump systems. For these specific green home improvements, the tax credit covers 30% of all costs, including installation without any upper limit. Even better, for these specific energy-saving investments the tax benefits can be claimed for your primary residence and second homes. Unlike the previous cases, new constructions are also okay. And get this: these government-provided subsidies are not expiring at the end of 2010. Tax credits for solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps are available through the year 2016.

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Quick and Easy Green Home Improvements

Many homeowners are looking for quick and easy green home improvements. Whether you want to make these improvements for the sake of going green or you want to do some things before placing a home on the market that will make it more competitive with new homes, there are plenty of options.

Joining the green revolution will make your home more comfortable, less costly to heat and cool, and some changes will reduce your water and/or sewer bill. Many of these improvements will also make your home more comparable to newer homes on the market. This might or might not justify an increase in selling price. While these quick and easy green home improvements might appeal to home buyers who have a strong interest in a green home, it might not matter to other prospective buyers when they make an offer. If, however, you make available a record of your utility bills for the last year, showing a decrease in heating, cooling and water costs could be attractive to a buyer.

The top seven quick and easy green home improvements that are also economical are:

1. Switch to energy efficient light bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs cost a bit more when you buy them, but they will last years longer and use only a fraction of the energy. Start with the lights you tend to use for the longest period of time – like the kitchen light that is never turned off or the bathroom light the kids just can’t remember to turn off. If you are planning to put your home on the market, you might want to start with bulbs in permanent light fixtures.

2. Install insulating/reflective window coverings. Film window coverings are available in several levels of light and UV ray blockage and colors. You can choose different textures and colors depending on the amount of direct sunlight on various windows. The window film is available in most hardware and home improvement stores, and it is easy to install.

3. Install weather stripping on doors and window frames. Weather stripping is relatively inexpensive and it is easy to install on window frames and door frames. It will reduce the amount of heat exchange by sealing up cracks or openings. This will make your home more comfortable, more energy efficient, and more environmentally friendly.

4. Install low flow shower heads and faucets. Most homeowners can install new shower heads and faucets or affordably hire a handyman to do it. These faucets and shower heads use less water without blocking adequate water flow. They will save water and reduce your water and sewer bills.

5. Adjust the float in the toilet tank to use less water. This is a fairly simple adjustment that can be accomplished by most homeowners or a handyman. If you can’t adjust it, try putting something in the bottom of the tank that will displace some of the water. Just be sure that what you use won’t rust and won’t get in the way of the working of the flushing mechanism.

6. Insulate the hot water distribution pipes in your home. This is also a relatively inexpensive and easy job of wrapping the pipes that go from the hot water heater to the various plumbing fixtures (kitchen, bathrooms). Keeping the water warmer as it moves through the pipes will provide warmer water and it will reduce the amount of water you have to run from a faucet while you wait for the hot water to get there.

7. Install insulating or reflective window treatments. Install reflective blinds or shades at your windows. Then be sure to close them at times when the sun shines on them directly or during the warmest part of the day. This will reduce your heating/cooling bills.

Try these seven steps to make some quick and easy green home improvements. The money you will save on utility bills will probably pay for the improvements very quickly.

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