Cool New Ways To Bring Eco-Friendliness Into Your Home

 

WRITTEN BY JAYMI NACIRI

Living green is on the minds of many, but bring up the idea of grey water and composting toilets, and, well, never mind. The great news is there are tons of products and ideas you can use to be kind to the universe without a big compromise.

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Chargers

“According to the United Nations Environment Program, the world generates twenty to fifty million metric tons of electronic waste each year and most of the wastage is caused due to heavy use of electronic appliances,” said Geeknaut. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could replace our gadgets with solar powered counterparts? You can, with this Freeloader Solar Charger.

A portable charge powered by the sun, the Freeloader “is an advanced portable charging system that can power any hand held device anywhere. Once charged, Freeloaders internal battery can power an iPod for 18 hours, a mobile phone for 44 hours, PSP for 2.5 hours and a PDA for 22 hours.”

Outdoor Furniture

A stylish, outdoor dining set that’s eco-friendly? Yep. Bambeco’s “recycled post-consumer HDPE outdoor chairs are constructed with the material from 300 salvaged plastic bottles.”


bambeco.com

Cooktops

If you’ve been thinking about an induction cooktop anyway, it pays to take a look at the Nuwave Precision Induction Cooktop. “The NuWave Precision Induction Cooktop (PIC) uses induction technology to reduce the amount of electricity required to cook foods traditionally prepared on electric stove,” said Conserve Energy Future. “The secret is an internal copper coil. This coil generates a magnetic field within your steel and iron-based pots and pans. The magnetic field causes molecules in the pots and pans to begin vibrating rapidly, creating heat, so the cookware itself heats the food. In this way, heat is generated in the cookware and not on the cooktop surface, a process which is much more energy-efficient than cooking with traditional gas or electric ranges.”

Low-flow showerhead

The problem with low-flow showerheads is that they feel like low-flow showerheads. But if you still want to make a dent in your water usage, try the Whedon, ShowerChamp’s choice and “a longtime customer favorite,” they said. “It’s compact, solidly built, and provides a strong, steady spray. Reviewers complimented the strength of the water output – even in homes with low pressure.”

Lawn mower

Think of it as a Roomba for your lawn. The Husqvarna Automower® is a robotic lawn mower, so “the grass gets mowed automatically—around the clock without your supervision. It’s electrical, so there are no emissions.


husqvarna.com

Thermostats

The Nest Learning Thermostat and the ecobee 3, which comes with inivudal room sensors, not only help you regulate the temperature in your home to keep you and your family more comfortable, but can also help you save energy and money – about 10–15 percent on your heating and cooling bills!

Countertops

Another reason to love quartz, the No. 1 choice in countertops today. While a recycled material would be the most eco-friendly option for your countertop, “Quartz products do not need sealing and maintenance like granite or other stone,” said Green Home Guide. “There is less material waste during manufacturing (quarrying) and fabrication of quartz surfaces.”

Textiles

Recovering a couch, having drapes made, or simply looking for a green option for textiles? “Designtex is a textile-design company whose catalog includes more than 8,000 materials with an eye toward sustainable production,” said Construction Dive. “Users can search the company’s website to find textiles that meet their desired environmental criteria. Among its environmentally friendly offerings is Wannabe, which comprises 95% post-consumer recycled and 5% pre-consumer recycled solution-dyed polyester. Additionally, Designtex tracks the emissions related to the shipping of its products and invests in carbon-reduction projects in order to offset them.”


designtex.com

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Going Green This Spring: 7 Green Home Improvement Projects For Your Specific Budget

WRITTEN BY DANIEL CHRISTENSEN

Going green has been a trending topic over the last decade and will continue to be one of the real estate industry’s most talked about subjects moving forward. Unfortunately, many homeowners feel that improving the environmental friendliness of their home is an expensive and unattainable goal. The reality is that most green improvements actually save you money in the long run. So, as good weather returns and extra money from tax returns arrives, it’s the perfect time to take a fresh look at green home projects you can do now–at different price points that will meet your specific budget.

Going Green This Spring: 7 Green Home Improvement Projects For Your Specific Budget

1. Replace your traditional light bulbs with LED bulbs

The price of LED bulbs has fallen drastically in the last few years, but homeowners can still get sticker-shock at seeing the upfront cost of replacing all their light bulbs (anywhere from $2 to upwards of $30 each). That being said, due to their long life and significantly lower energy use, LED lights have the potential to save homeowners a significant amount of money over the course of their lifespan as well as decrease the overall amount of greenhouse emissions. Energy.gov states that “widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States.” This is a simple step that any homeowner can take to make their home more green and save money. Depending on your budget, you can replace several of your most used bulbs at once or simply replace one at a time.

2. Seal your ducts

Experts estimate that air leakage from ducting in homes can reduce heating and cooling efficiency by 20-30%. Sealing ducts is a very inexpensive solution that can save you up to $100 per year in energy bills as well as decrease the burning of fossil fuels. Sealing ductwork can be a DIY project that anyone willing to put in a little work can do successfully. For less than $40 and a few hours of time, you can make your home more efficient and save money on cooling costs during the hot summer months that will soon follow.

3. Replace fixtures with low-flow options

Water heating is the 2nd largest energy expense, so those long showers can really add up. Not only does it cost you more on your monthly bill, it increases water usage, and burns fossil fuels to heat the water. Swap out your showerhead with a low flow option for as low as $20 and you will see immediate savings. You can also move to low-flow faucets to further improve your water and energy use.

4. Landscape using water-saving methods

Spring is the perfect time to update your landscaping. If conserving water and lowering your bill is important to you, seek out ways to make your yard more environmentally friendly too. Use drip systems to water flower beds or gardens rather than over the top irrigation, which uses considerably more water. Look into swapping out that grass parking strip for bark and plants, which conserves water and provides curb appeal. In dry climates, ditch some or all of the grass in favor of drought-resistant plants or xeriscaping. Depending on the size of lawn, these changes can save tens of thousands of gallons of water yearly.

5. Find a Green Builder

If you are truly committed to going green with your home and you are looking to move in the near future, building a new home might make the most sense for you. Green home builders are in high-demand because they can seal, insulate, and use the right products so that your home is as air-tight and energy efficient as possible. Doing this during the building process is usually more cost-effective than trying to do it later as a remodel. A Boise home builder recently stated, “Green Building means two things: homes that are easier on the planet, and easier on your wallet.” If this is your philosophy and you have the means available, green home building might be the right option for you.

6. Replace Old Windows

A more expensive, but very beneficial green upgrade is replacing your old windows with energy efficient windows. New windows can make a substantial difference in the efficiency and comfort of your home. Estimates show that adding new double-paned windows can reduce heating costs by 15% and add savings of as much as $2000 over the life of the window; triple-paned windows can save even more. Low E (emissivity) coatings on your windows are also so energy efficient that they often completely pay for themselves in just a few years.

7. Consider investing in Solar Panels

Solar Panels have a high upfront cost, but government-sponsored tax rebates, the decreasing price of the technology, and competition in the industry have made solar panels an attainable goal for those seeking a green home. With the increasing cost of electricity nation-wide, solar panels provide a renewable form of energy that you can feel good about and can save you money long-term. While the vast majority of people see a great return on invest for solar panels, many factors influence how beneficial they will be, so be sure to talk to a professional in your area.

Whether you have a lot of money to spend or just a little, green home improvements are within your reach. Make changes today that will increase the value of your home, protect the earth, and add a little more money to your pocket.

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Repairs and Upgrades: How Much Will They Cost?

Written By: Roberto Sarjoo – Pillar To Post Home Inspectors

During the process of buying or selling a home, your clients often learn about recommended or required repairs and upgrades. This can happen as a result of the home inspection as well as your expert knowledge of your market and comparable homes. Of course, the first thing homeowners want to know is, “How much will that cost?”

Pillar To Post is pleased to offer our popular Residential Construction and Remodeling Estimates cost guide, which provides estimated cost ranges for repair and/or replacement of the major systems and components in a home. It also includes general guidelines for the life expectancies of those systems. This information can help your clients make informed decisions when they’re considering home repairs or improvements, and is valued by buyers and sellers alike. Below is just a sampling of our list of estimated costs for hundreds of repairs/upgrades.

Floors

Hardwood Floor Refinish
$3-$6 / sq ft
Carpet – Clean
$125 / room
Ceramic Tile
$6-$11 / sq ft

 

Kitchen

Renovation
$7,500+
Kitchen Counter – Laminate
$45 / lin ft
Kitchen Counter – Marble
$80 / lin ft

 

Security System

Alarm System
$2,500
Alarm Monitoring
$35 / month

 

Deck

Pressure Treated
$15-$30 /sq ft
Custom Designed & Built
$55-$80 / sq ft

 

Windows

Skylight
$800 and up
Casement – Replace
$50 / sq ft

 

These estimates reflect the average basic costs for supplies and installation of building materials in United States and Canada. Costs may vary depending on regions, upgrades, complexity, and disposal fees.

http://www.pillartopost.com/costguide

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Home Renovations On A Budget

WRITTEN BY REALTY TIMES STAFF

If you’re looking to get the best return on your investment or just improve your property to attract high quality tenants, a kitchen remodel is one of the highest value projects. The most recent cost vs. value report, released in January 2014, shows that property owners will recoup 82.7 percent of the cost on a minor kitchen remodel, an increase of more than five percent over 2013. The good news is that high value renovations like these don’t have to break the bank. There are a number of options for making improvements to your property that can significantly better its appearance without spending an arm and a leg.

Kitchen

The first thing people look at when buying a house is the kitchen and bathrooms, according to the director of the remodeling futures program at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. It’s no different for potential renters, and Rental.Us.com reports these two rooms are considered the best investments for property owners.

Minor improvements such as replacing the kitchen faucet and adding new cabinet door handles can make a big difference in the look of your kitchen. Consider switching out old fluorescent lights for new track lighting or adding a new countertop; laminate isn’t too expensive and can really help update the room. If the appliances don’t match and you can’t afford to replace them with new ones, a less pricey option is to replace their doors or face panels with matching colors which can generally be ordered direct from the manufacturer.

Bathrooms

As bathrooms are also a high priority for home buyers and renters, don’t leave them out when sprucing up your property. Consider changing out old towel bars, toilet seats and sink faucets. If your tiling is old and outdated, it should also be replaced. Re-grouting the tile around the shower and bath is also an easy and inexpensive update.

Flooring

Floors are another important factor that can make or break a home’s appearance. If you can afford it, consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with wood laminate flooring. It is cheaper than other hardwoods but can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the years in maintenance costs. For landlords, this makes a lot of sense as it’s much easier to clean between tenants. At a minimum, you should have the carpets professionally cleaned.

The Front Door

Entry door replacement was on the top of the list when it comes to high value renovations, according to the 2014 cost vs. value report. This is one of the first things potential renters and buyers will notice. If replacing the door is not in your budget, consider repainting it to add curb appeal and changing out the handle-and-lock to help suggest that it’s a solid, sturdy home.

The Exterior

Of course, an attractive home exterior is a must, enticing prospective buyers or renters to want to take a closer look. If the outside looks shabby there is a good chance that it will be passed by.

General cleaning and maintenance of the exterior can greatly improve curb appeal. Remove any items that are left sitting unused, including old, rusty patio furniture or broken garden tools and equipment. These things generally can’t be picked up by your local garbage company and you may need to find a rental dumpster service so that you can tidy up your yard and easily dispose of those unwanted items. Additionally, make sure that walkways are swept and the lawn is well-manicured.

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How to Update Your Home on a Dime

WRITTEN BY ANDREA DAVIS

Updates and home renovations are frightening to many homeowners. But improving your home doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here are a few simple projects that will boost the value and looks of your home:

Try a Fresh Coat of Paint

Applying a fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference in the looks of your home. If you have children or rambunctious pets, consider a quick touch-up of nicked or damaged areas.

Update Your Hardware

Quality hardware can cost anywhere from $5 to $25 per piece. But, considering the cost of most home improvements, even more expensive hardware can be a bargain. You can update your hardware with classic designs, or go with a sleek and modern aesthetic. Always keep the old hardware in case you decide to sell your home.

Improve Lighting

Lighting changes the way a room looks and feels. When you want to improve the lighting in your home, focus on adding accent lighting overhead. Lamps, floor lights and even spots on your art and other collectibles can greatly improve a space. Ambient lighting like sconces can add a decorative and useful touch. Task lighting will also improve the usability of your home.

 

Go Vintage

Vintage items, particularly those with a more rustic or lived-in feel, can make a sterile space feel more exciting. Also, many vintage pieces won’t cost as much as new or designer lighting options.

Clear Clutter

Extra items cluttering your home will detract from its charm and make it difficult to clean. Move excess items to a storage space in the garage or have a yard sale. You might even make money improving your home!

Conclusion

Updating your home can be a costly project. Use these tips to help you improve your home without breaking the bank. You’ll be surprised how much better your home can look and feel for just a few bucks.

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HOME LOOKING DRAB? BOOSTING CURB APPEAL IS EASY AND WORTH IT

Written by Mikkie Mills on Tuesday, 07 February 2017 2:20 pm

Improving the curb appeal of your home will not only bring a smile to your face when you pull up after a long day, but it will leave you smiling all the way to the closing table. Boosting the exterior aesthetic of your home adds to your enjoyment, but also can dramatically improve the value at resale. By focusing on the three main areas of your home’s exterior, you’ll be proud no matter who is driving by.

Improving the driveway, garage, and walkway

In most homes, the driveway and the garage comprise a significant portion of the home’s curb appeal, yet they are often overlooked by homeowners. Ensuring your driveway is in good condition and free of weeds will automatically freshen the exterior — edging your driveway with coordinating stones or pavers can also enhance the appeal.

Also, take some time to inspect your exterior walkway. Is it in good condition? Does it enhance the other exterior features? Upgrading a walkway with pavers or flagstones is relatively inexpensive and can dramatically change the way you feel walking up to your front door.

Garage doors can also set the tone for a home’s appearance. Consider touching up garage door paint or replacing your door altogether. With a wide variety of materials to choose from, a new garage door can transform your home’s exterior. Doors are available in wood, steel, and fiberglass with countless choices in design and color.

Attending to your home’s exterior

A home with siding and paint in good condition that blends well with the neighborhood and surrounding landscape will offer a more serene experience. Even if your paint is in good condition, consider power washing the exterior to remove dirt and grime that can diminish its appeal. Renting a power washer for the weekend is inexpensive but can reap massive rewards in how your home looks and feels.

Small changes to the entryway can have a dramatic impact on visitors. Replace broken or rusted lighting fixtures, update door hardware, and embrace symmetry at the entry point. Even the simple act of repainting your front door with a fresh shade can add tremendous appeal. Installing additional lighting along a walkway or dark areas can also enhance these exterior spaces.

Luscious landscapes

Landscaping is one of the primary ways to make a dramatic impact on how your home looks. Improvements in landscaping are thought to return about 4 to 5 times your investment when it comes to selling your home. To maximize your time and investment, first, assess what of your existing landscape can be used or improved. Trim overgrown bushes, prune trees and refresh mulch or other ground covering. Peeling back the overgrown exterior can attract some unwanted attention to your home — consider purchasing home insurance riders to protect any belongings not covered in your policy.

Adding plant beds to feature climate appropriate plants will help you maintain your landscape with less hassle and will enhance the natural beauty of your lot. Choose annuals to add bright pops of color, either in beds or matching planters at the front of your home.

Lastly, attend to your lawn. Patch dead areas with sod or seed and ensure you are caring for your lawn using recommended methods — mow regularly, use fertilizers and weedicides as needed, and make sure your clean up after any pets. Stubborn bare patches can be transformed into unique flower beds or improved with alternative ground cover, such as ivy, in areas where it is too shady for many types of grass.

With some simple and inexpensive fixes, you can create an exterior that you are not only proud of but that you enjoy spending time in. Not only will this improve your happiness in your home, but it will also reap benefits when you’re ready to move someplace new.

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The New Matterport 3D Camera Could Change Reality As You Know It

Steven Noel is one of the only Brokers in the state of Colorado who uses Matterport 3D Virtual Tours for all of his clients. Click onto our website to view 3D Virtual Tours of our listings.

Written By Elise Ackerman  (Forbes Contributor)

A few weeks ago I slipped on an Oculus Rift headset and visited the future of virtual reality. In a millisecond, I was transported from a drab office park in Mountain View, CA to the middle of a showcase home in Portola Valley, CA  that had been rendered as a life-size model by the Matterport 3D Camera.Camera Shot 2)_hi res

It was the closest I’m likely to get to teleportation. The details of my immediate surroundings were completely replaced by the virtual world. Using a keypad, I could move around and explore the home’s nooks and crannies at my leisure.

I floated through the kitchen, admiring the ash wood floors, the marble countertops and the built-in stone hearth. In the next room, the dining room table was set for six. On my left, I glimpsed an impressionist nude painting on the wall and drifted over for a closer look. Tiring of the painting, I headed into the living room where a comfortable couch stretched invitingly in front of a fireplace. (You can watch a 2D version of a tour of the home at the bottom of the post.)

Matterport began sending cameras to members of its early adopter program this month, and they’ll start selling them in larger quantities in January. While 3D cameras and viewers have been around more than a century—remember the View-Master?—what is unique about Matterport’s camera and cloud-processing software is that they effortlessly turn the real world into a virtual spaces that can be shared and explored.

Matt Bell, Matterport’s chief strategy officer, began working on the system three years ago, after it became apparent that 3D sensors had reached a point where they could be cheaply and affordably mass produced. What was missing, he realized, was the software that would take the raw 3D data and stitch it together to create 3D spaces that could be accessed on any computer, altered and shared.

It took Bell and his chief technology officer, David Gausebeck, close to a year to turn the problem into mathematical equations that a computer could recognize and solve. The next challenge was to create a camera that would reliably produce high-quality 3D scans, regardless of whom was using it. They ended up with an automated model that, once activated, spins around on a tripod. All a user has to do is move the tripod around to ensure 360 degree coverage of a space and occasionally press the start button. The scan is processed in the cloud and available for viewing on an iPad or computer.

“Traditionally, working with 3D data has been this nightmare of formats and expensive tools and tricky interfaces,” Bell said. “With Matterport we wanted to make it dead simple.” More than a camera, Matterport is a 3D ecosystem that handles all the heavy lifting associated with 3D models, including rendering the data, displaying it online and offering a way for people to interact with the virtual space, either using traditional interfaces or a 3D headset like the Oculus Rift.

David Colleen, the CEO of Planet 9 Studios, has been using Matterport’s camera cum scanner for almost a year. He’s an old hand at 3D laser scanning, the 3D technology traditionally used by architects, surveyors and engineers. His company Planet 9 Studios has been building 3D apps and constructing 3D models for more than 20 years. As one of a handful of beta testers, Colleen used Matterport’s camera to scan a ceiling for a remodel of Stanford Hospital, to scan a new tunnel system for a winery in Napa and to scan the historic foyer skylight of the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University.

Colleen is particularly proud of the skylight project. The contractor, ARG Conservation Services, was about to extract the exact measurements needed to preserve the leaky structure from the scan, reducing the time and cost of the project.

Cantor skylight courtesy David Colleen

“The Matterport scanner is a big breakthrough because it cuts out a lot of the time and expense of old-fashioned scanners,” Colleen said. Traditional laser scanners from Leica and Faro cost between $40,000 and $100,000 dollars, compared with just a few thousand for Matterport. They are also cumbersome to use. Colleen said he used to spend a day in the field and then ten days in the office processing the data. “A lot of people bought them, and they are sitting in a room,” he said.

Colleen calls Matterport’s system “quintessentially disruptive,” and foresees an explosion in demand, particularly in the construction industry.

Meanwhile, Daniel Schumaker, founder of Contrast Forensics, see a role for Matterport in the criminal justice system. A specialist in crime scene reconstruction, Schumaker used Matterport’s camera to scan the apartment complex where George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

Schumaker said he has tried other solutions, including Autodesk 123D, free software that will convert 2D photos into a 3D model, but he said Matterport was more accurate and easy to use. “I could see every single law enforcement agency buying this,” he said.

Bell said the company is initially going to focus on the areas of construction, home improvement and insurance. “Each of these markets is especially large and especially gungho about adopting our technology quickly,” he said. Once manufacturing ramps up, however, the camera will be available for purchase by anyone who wants it—from heads of criminal investigation divisions to virtual tourist agencies.

Is there a place you’ve always wanted to see but lacked the time or the money for travel? Maybe Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal or Everland? Get ready. The time is coming when you will be able to tour the world without ever leaving your living room.

 

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