Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
From major installations like solar panels to smaller projects like adding spray foam insulation, green home improvements can save you money and make you feel healthier and happier about your carbon footprint.
Start with an audit
If you’re really looking to make your home more energy-efficient, you should look into an energy audit, a rapidly growing area of the green real estate market.
“Energy audits are one of the smartest things you can do for your home,” said Maria Onesto Moran, owner of Green Home Experts, a suburban Chicago shop that sells sustainable building materials, gardening tools, and eco-friendly products. “Most of us wouldn’t remodel our houses without an architectural drawing that gives us a map for the remodel—and that’s what an audit does for weatherizing your home.”
An audit, which costs an average of $400, will not only spot any air leaks and safety issues but will also guide you on which home improvements will provide the best return on investment. There’s really no point to installing an underground geothermal heat system, for example, if the heat you produce is escaping out cracks in your walls.
Simply sealing cracks and holes in your walls and increasing or replacing insulation are still the most popular green improvements you can make because they cost little and save a lot, said Peter Brown, director of residential services with Earth Advantage Institute in Oregon.
“The easiest and most-cost effective thing you can do is go up to your attic, air seal it, and put in the maximum amount of insulation,” Brown said.
Spray foam insulation, which molds to the space where it is sprayed and eliminates insulation gaps, is quickly becoming a trendy and reliable option.
You can also caulk any cracks or holes in the walls, around windows or doors, or even around electrical outlets to turn your home into an airtight shell. An energy audit will help guide you here.
Part of green remodeling is simply rethinking regular remodeling projects with sustainable and healthier products. Two of the most popular improvements are flooring and countertops, said Onesto Moran.
Homeowners looking for better flooring options can try traditional linoleum or the more eco-friendly Marmoleum. Bamboo flooring is also popular, but stick with the sturdier woven bamboo and watch out for cheap, soft bamboo flooring. Also check out cork, which will probably feel better on your feet when you step out of the bathroom than cold, hard porcelain. Avoid any kind of vinyl flooring because it contains toxic formaldehyde.
With major exterior projects, solar panel installations are becoming more and more popular, beating out geothermal and wind energy—the latter still isn’t cost-effective enough to make its way into the residential mix.
One remodeling project to avoid: window replacement. Replacing your windows simply isn’t worth the cost. Unless you’re really looking for an aesthetic change, window replacements provide so little savings on energy that many homeowners would actually see better results by spending a few dollars caulking than the thousands on windows, Brown said.
Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and at the Home Equity blog for CBS MoneyWatch.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.