"In previous years, property experts would have agreed that improvements to a home should focus on the kitchen and bathroom so as to add the most value to a property," says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "However, things have changed significantly over the last few years as the cost of water and electricity continues to rise and the realities of global warming become ever more evident. And it is for this very reason that buyers and tenants alike place more value on eco-friendly properties and green lifestyles," he says.
Goslett provides his top ten tips for budget-friendly improvements to your home.
- Water heating consumes almost 50% of the electricity used in a household. Install a geyser blanket to reduce heat loss and reduce the temperature of the geyser to 60°C.
- Install a geyser thermometer which will regulate the heating of the geyser to correspond to your schedule, instead of keeping the water at boiling point all day.
- Install solar panels for water heating. Find out from your municipality regarding the free installations driven by the Department of Energy, or use the Eskom rebates available to reduce the costs, or use a solar water heater supplier that offers finance as part of their service.
- Install energy saving compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) throughout your home by participating in Eskom's CFL exchange programme in which your old, less efficient incandescent bulbs can be exchanged for CFLs, free of charge.
- Energy-saving shower heads not only look modern and require no maintenance, they also operate 48% more efficiently than an average shower head, which results in significant water and heating cost savings.
- Every flush of the toilet uses 11 litres of water. Put a water saving device into the toilet cistern or make your own with a brick or a plastic bottle filled with sand.
- Install a pump system that will allow you to use grey water from the bath, shower and washing machine to water your garden.
- Consider ceiling insulation, which can reduce heat losses through the roof by 80%, reducing both heating and cooling bills.
- Install ceiling fans, double-glazed windows and well-positioned awnings to keep your home cool during the hot summer months.
- Plant only indigenous plants in your garden - they consume very little water and require minimal maintenance.
He further advises home owners to keep all invoices and to point out the renovations to their estate agent when listing their property for sale or for rent as it will help the estate agent to determine the selling price and/or monthly rental income of the property.