http://www.flickr.com/photos/skrobotic/74815199/

Zero Energy House in Hickory, North Carolina: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skrobotic/74815199/

Many families are spending money on smart remodeling and home improvements rather than embarking on major renovations or moving to a new home. What are the best projects to spend your time and money on?

  • Projects that improve energy efficiency. Sealing windows, replacing siding or improving your home insulation will add value and reduce your energy bills, even in the short term. Often your local utility will provide rebates or incentives for projects like these, so check with them to find out more.
  • Pared-back kitchen or bathroom remodels. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, focusing on cosmetic improvements will cost you less, but still have a good return on the investment, even in the short run.
  • Think green! According to a study by McGraw-Hill, people will pay a premium of up to $20,000 for a “green home.” Spend your remodeling dollars in ways that make your existing home more environmentally sustainable. Even the DIY products you use on project can make a difference. The Wall Street Journal offers several ideas for greening your home.
  • Maintain and repair. Look for opportunities to make simple repairs to maintain your home and prevent expensive problems later. ServiceMagic recommends getting a home inspection. While not the most glamorous of tips, knowing if problems loom can give you an opportunity to head off disaster.

What other tips would you share? What projects are you taking on (or putting off) right now?

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