Sustainable modifications are cheaper and easier to make than ever, as technology in eco-housing gains traction – but does it contribute to the sale price of a property?

Even if you’re not too concerned about climate change, the financial appeal of going ‘off the grid’ can certainly be tempting. But is upgrading your home to include more sustainable features worth it? Here are some of the things you can add or remove in order to be greener and save money.

Solar panels
You can power your home and heat your water with the help of the sun, but how long until the money you have invested in installing solar panels starts coming back to you?

According to research from news.com.au, the cost of solar powering your home has dropped from around $20k to more like $4k – $8k over the past few years. The time it takes to get your money back depends on how much you spend and how much energy you use, but generally it is between 4 to 8 years. This is not so bad if you’re thinking long term but if you plan to move in the near future it may not be worth the cash outlay.

Double Glazing
In the northern hemisphere there are few homes without double glazed windows but in Australia it’s not a feature many of us enjoy.

Double glazing describes windows installed with two or more panes of glass, with a small gap between each pane. The benefits are less heat escaping the house during winter and less hot air making its way in during summer. Double glazed windows are also good for noise reduction and they are more difficult for thieves to smash their way through.

The potential exists to save a lot of money by reducing the need for heating and air conditioning. Depending on the frames you have, the installation cost may be high. It is worth getting some quotes so you can compare the amount you will save in the long term against the cost of warming and cooling your home. You might also be able to consider the savings from a reduction in the cost of home and contents insurance.

Insulation
Like a blanket and a sun umbrella in one, insulation also helps to maintain a milder temperature during summer and winter by protecting your walls, floors and ceilings from the elements.

There are a range of bulk and reflective insulation products on the market at varying price points. These bring benefits similar to double glazing. According to the Victorian government you will save on the cost of keeping your home at a comfortable temperature by up to 45 percent.

Natural light
Want to save on power bills? A simple skylight or a new window or two can give you extra time in the day when you don’t have to turn the lights on.

If you’re building a new home, your architect will show you how to maximise the light your home receives during the day in order to reduce energy costs and also provide more warmth in the winter. This will save you money from the get-go

For an existing home you may be able to complete some minor renovations that make a world of difference to the light coming into your home. If the costs are only a few hundred dollars you’ll be able to reap the returns before too long.

Lose the pool
Sustainability isn’t always about adding to your home.

It might not be what you want to hear, but according to Sustainable Architect Caroline Pidcock, a constantly running pool is responsible for up to 70% of a household energy bill. Ouch!

From an environmental and a financial perspective, this might be enough to encourage you to make more trips to the local swim centre or your nearest beach (even though the kids might not like it!)

Swap the lights
Energy efficient light bulbs are more expensive than conventional ones, but the good news is they are easy to install.

Once operating, modern globes can use up to 80% less energy and will last up to two decades longer, making them an easy and worthwhile investment for anyone looking to live a more sustainable existence.

To upgrade or not to upgrade?
If you are planning to live in your home for many years to come, investing in sustainable measures will eventually save you money.

It is increasingly likely to make you money at sale time. According to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria, agents are increasingly asked about a home’s sustainability credentials, such as double glazing and solar hot water. In 2014, LJ Hooker shared its consumer checklist with Domain, pointing out how a property’s orientation, zoning, density of materials and lighting plus how the design reduces running costs are all reviewed by prospective buyers. The more items the buyer can check off, the more they will save in the long term and the better your chances of receiving a good price when it is time to sell.