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Make your home a little more green by incorporating smart home technology, like a smart thermostat to keep energy usage down. (Getty Images)

Selling a home is no longer solely dependent on prime location and high-end amenities. Today’s luxury homebuyers are seeking homes that have eco-friendly features or design elements, and sustainability has never before been such a hot topic in everyday real estate.

According to the National Association of Realtors' 2018 report on sustainability in real estate, 71 percent of members note that promoting energy efficiency in listings is valuable to them. Savvy buyers are acutely aware of the importance of protecting the planet and have been increasingly drawn to homes with the perfect balance of rich architecture and sustainable features. As the focus on environmentally friendly living continues to grow, there are several ways you can easily upgrade your home with green features without sacrificing a sleek design.

[Read: 5 Health-Boosting Enhancements for Your Home]

Living Walls

Keep your love of gardening growing by expanding your green space up the wall. More than just an aesthetically pleasing art piece for living rooms, entryways or terraces, living walls provide many eco-friendly benefits including natural insulation, energy consumption reduction and humidity level maintenance. Many vertical gardens are designed to survive in full sun, shade or interior building applications, and are becoming increasingly popular in hot climates as they require less energy to cool air.

Green Roofs

With home gardening and organic produce continuously rising in popularity, many home owners in urban areas have begun installing green roofs at their properties. Green roofs are easy to implement, as they do not require extensive backyard space, and are most often an enclosed green space on the extension of an existing roof. They provide natural cooling and allow residents to nurture plants in a way that doesn’t include leaks or damage to the roof. In addition to these practical benefits, green roofs also add visual appeal to a home. In Europe, there's already a multimillion dollar market in place for green roof products due to the established technologies and financial support from government legislation.

[Read: The Guide to Home Renovations.]

Energy-Efficient Lightbulbs

Energy-efficient lightbulbs have been around for several years, but many homeowners are just now starting to incorporate them into their homes due to the many benefits, which include reducing electricity use and longer bulb life span. Healthy living media company Everyday Health reports that if each American household exchanged one lightbulb for an energy-efficient one, the U.S. would save enough energy to light up 2.5 million homes each year, and save $600 million in energy costs. LED lightbulbs, one of the most common energy-efficient lightbulbs, come in a variety of different colors and can easily fit into many types of designer light fixtures, allowing homeowners to incorporate stylish, yet energy-efficient, lighting design throughout their homes.

[Read: 7 Reasons Why Renovating Is Better Than Buying a New Home]

Smart Home Technology

Home automation is often thought of as a luxe amenity, but it’s also one of the most effective ways to make your home eco-friendly, as it allows appliances to run with the lowest amount of energy required. A report from the American Institute of Architects believes that over the next decade, technological integration and dedicated support from personal devices will bring even more green technological integration into homes. Automated controls for temperature, security and lighting that come from one single device, like the Canary, will replace energy-consuming features like light switches, and add extra function simultaneously. Additionally, the sleek design of many of these smart devices seamlessly blends technology throughout the home to complete a modern and stylish design.


The Best Time of Year for Every Home Improvement Project

A renovation project for each season

(Getty Images)

Homeownership comes with a never-ending list of home improvement projects, and being able to time them right can be tricky. Ultimately, the best time for a home improvement project is when you have the time. But if you’re eager to plan projects to set yourself up for success, consider which season has the right weather patterns, minimizes future maintenance issues and makes it easiest to hire professionals. Read on for the best time of year for 12 home improvement projects.

Interior paint

Interior paint

Close up of unrecognizable house painter pouring paint while preparing it for home decoration.

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Winter

The benefit of painting inside is that you have air conditioning and heating. “We paint interiors all year-round because of that climate control,” says Tina Nokes, co-owner of Five Star Painting in Loudoun County, Virginia, which is a part of Neighborly, a network of home service providers. Your biggest concern when it comes to a quality indoor paint job is humidity – so if you’re in the middle of a humid summer, it’ll take longer for a room to dry and it will dry unevenly. If you’re worried about humidity levels inside, paint your interior rooms during the winter, when the air is driest.

Electrical updates

Electrical updates

Electrician cutting wires in home

(Paul Bradbury/Getty Images)

Best time of year: Winter

Electrical work can happen just about any time of year, unless it’s during rain or a thunderstorm, for obvious safety reasons, explains Dennis Burke, owner of Mr. Electric of Southeast New Hampshire, which is also a Neighborly company. What truly makes winter a winner for electrical updates is that you’ll be avoiding the bulk of competing homeowners. Burke says late spring and early summer see a big influx of requests from clients, as well as late summer as people go on vacation. “Labor Day to Thanksgiving is also really busy,” he says.

Building a deck

Building a deck

handsome young man carpenter installing a wood floor outdoor terrace in new house construction site

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Winter

An outdoor project like a backyard deck seems like a natural undertaking for summer, but it’s actually just the opposite. Deck builders and contractors report that pressure-treated wood, which is best for building a deck, stabilizes best when humidity is low. Additionally, the increased sun exposure in summer can cause the surface of a deck to crack, and cloudier winter days help avoid early damage. If you live in a particularly cold climate, aim for early winter to avoid the bulk of snowfall and temperatures that are too cold for contractors to work outside.

Full-room remodel

Full-room remodel

New bathroom cabinets with granite countertopsBathroom renovation and granite installation

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Winter or spring

Remodeling or updating a well-loved room in your home can happen any time of year, but it’s best to be proactive and avoid higher labor costs or jampacked contractor schedules during the summer months. HomeAdvisor reports that July is the busiest month for bathroom remodel requests, with 48 percent of homeowners indicating they’re ready to hire and start work immediately. Avoid the rush by scheduling your remodel earlier in the year.

Cleaning out gutters

Cleaning out gutters

Cleaning your gutters and inspecting your basement can help you become better-prepared for a disaster

(iStockPhoto)

Best time of year: Early spring and fall

The gutters along your roofline collect leaves, twigs and other debris over time. When they get too full, the drains can clog and cause water to sit along the edges of the roof and get inside the house or continue to weigh down the gutters. Avoid any problems by cleaning out your gutters in the fall, when leaves are most likely to make their way in, and again in early spring so the path for water is clear before April showers roll in. If you're not comfortable on a ladder or you have a high roofline, consider hiring professional help that will take proper safety precautions.

New floors

New floors

Man installing wood flooring in home.

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Spring or fall

The best time to install wood flooring is during parts of the year with the least extreme conditions. In spring and fall, you'll avoid peak humidity and dry air, both of which can cause problems like bowing and warped wood or cracking in too-dry conditions. Plus, you can open windows to ventilate the smell of wood stain or carpet adhesive, and you’re least likely to have the heat or air cranking in spring and fall.

Updating a deck or fence

Updating a deck or fence

Staining a brand new fence. DIY home improvement concepts.

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Spring, summer or fall

The wood on a deck may fare better in winter, but staining a deck or painting a fence often requires additional weather consideration. “Decks and fences are a little more finicky (than painting a house exterior). We need it to be even warmer, around 40 to 50 degrees,” Nokes says. A good deck staining or painting company will recommend a timeline specific to temperatures where you live to avoid an incomplete, delayed or flawed project.

Exterior paint

Exterior paint

Caucasian man painting house

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Late spring, summer, early fall

New paint will freshen up the look of your exterior walls, and painting is a doable project for a decent chunk of the year. Temperatures have to stay above 35 degrees for exterior painting, so in the early days of spring and late days of fall, weather-dependent work may be delayed if temperatures drop. For this reason, Nokes keeps clients on a watch list: “If we get a warm snap, I’ll call them right away,” she says.

Home addition

Home addition

Renovate and repair residential house facade wall with mineral wool insulation, plastering, painting wall outdoors. Remodeling House Construction with asphalt shingles roof. House renovation.

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Late spring, summer, early fall

For outdoor work, it’s best to avoid the seasons that will bring inclement weather and delay the project. Plan for the project to begin after the chance of snow in your region has passed, and shoot for a completion date before the frost returns in the fall to reduce the chances of delays. But be sure to schedule all professionals well in advance. In fact, Burke says a month to two months’ advance notice is often needed for electricians to complete an estimate, plan a contract and schedule work.

Roof repair and replacement

Roof repair and replacement

Installing new roof with  nail gun and shingles

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Summer, early fall

It’s a given that you don’t want people working on your roof in icy or wet conditions. As a result, the best time of year for roof repair or replacement is also when the professionals are busiest. Be sure to plan roof replacement a month or two in advance to avoid having to wait with possible leaks causing damage to the inside of your home.

HVAC care

HVAC care

Hands Changing Furnace Air Filter

(iStockphoto)

Best time of year: Early fall

Any repairs to your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system should be done as soon as you notice an issue, but if you’re planning to do routine maintenance, schedule a professional long before you’ll need to turn on the heat. That way, any potential problems that could leave you without heat are found and fixed before the first cold nights of the season. The same goes for air conditioning in the late spring and summer.

New appliances

New appliances

(Getty Images)

Best time of year: Fall

Consumers can expect everything from washing machines and oven ranges to refrigerators to sport discounts leading up to the holidays. Even if you’re not updating your kitchen until May (and your home can accommodate an extra oven or fridge for five months), keep an eye out for deals. Stores that sell appliances like Sears, Lowe’s and Home Depot are known to regularly offer holiday weekend deals.

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Tags: real estate, housing, home improvements, energy efficiency, technology


Sally Forster Jones is recognized as one of the top real estate brokers in Southern California. Forster Jones is an expert in the luxury real estate market in Los Angeles and internationally. Her extensive knowledge ranges from residential sales, luxury and architecturally significant properties to new developments and commercial transactions.

She is currently Executive Director of Luxury Estates with Compass in Beverly Hills, California. Her team, SFJ Group, is comprised of agents and a full-service staff ranging across experienced marketing, listing, transaction, and operation experts.

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