5 handy ways to save on home rehab
Give energy savers the green light
According to a 2008 survey by the NAHB, 72 percent of consumers say energy-efficient features in a home would influence their purchase decision. So what simple things can you do in remodeling to go greener? Use paints with low levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These are chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature, potentially causing health problems, particularly for people with respiratory concerns.
Another green move: Buy appliances that are Energy Star-rated. Energy Star is a designation by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy for energy-efficient products. Also, if you're remodeling the bathroom, go with the low-flow when it comes to fixtures such as toilets and faucets.
If it's an option, use the sun to rein in utility bills. A solar water heater system will typically cost more than a conventional system to install, according to the DOE. But it can trim your hot water expenses by 50 percent to 80 percent, so they can pay for themselves within a few years, depending on your usage. Don't forget the 30 percent federal tax credit on the purchase, and check to see if your state and local governments offer incentives. "Most people have enough area on the roof to put in solar panels for a water heater," Lew says.