Given today’s static housing market, more and more families are turning to home improvements to make their dream house a reality. We wanted to know what home improvement trends to expect in the coming year, so we asked our panel of experts to point us in the right direction. With their guidance and our own research we’ve compiled a summary of the biggest home improvement trends to expect in 2012.
Energy efficiency is a broad category that covers a lot of the most buzzworthy home improvement trends of 2012. Experts are predicting a continued shift towards energy efficient appliances, as well as practices that encourage better energy use. These changes can range from simple switches to Energy Star rated appliances and light fixtures to more involved upgrades, like using spray foam insulation in new homes or replacing single pane windows in old homes. Better insulation means your heating and cooling systems can moderate temperature more efficiently, saving you money on energy bills.
Though the upfront costs are sometimes higher than average, energy efficient products can help you save money in the long run, and not just on utilities bills. Many larger appliances, including water heaters, heat pumps and refrigerators, come with a tax credit if they are Energy Star rated.
As many families are retrofitting their existing homes to make them more “green”, contractors are building more LEED homes; a trend we expect to continue through 2012. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, is a certification process given to homes which meet strict energy efficient criteria.
Sustainability is growing in popularity across several areas of home improvement. Manufacturers are creating building materials that are available in an increasing range of recycled materials such as cork flooring made from recycled post-industrial waste.
In landscaping, the use of native plants is expected to grow. Non-native plants often require large amounts of water and fertilizer to survive. This means higher water bills for you and increased degradation of the environment through the overuse of fertilizers.
Creative use of smaller space is a major theme for homeowners in 2012. Though new families are growing, the recovering housing market makes it hard for them to adjust with a new home. At the same time, baby boomers are getting older and moving into smaller, more manageable living spaces.
To accommodate this change in living style, experts are expecting a rise in creative storage solutions. Home designs will favor larger communal areas, especially in the kitchen, maximizing the spaces where people spend most of their time. Other rooms are expected to turn into multi-function rooms, combining offices, play areas and guest rooms.
Technology is making it easier than ever to implement important energy efficiency strategies in 2012. Solar panels and other alternate energy sources are becoming more mainstream and offer big tax credits for those interested in getting a little greener.
Remote access home monitoring systems are using wireless technology to control things, like lights and heating systems, with a simple internet connection. Remote monitoring makes your home safe, but it also saves you money by managing your energy usage even when you aren’t at home.
One of the most expensive parts of building a “green” house is in the design. Experts expect that 2012 will bring a large increase in software specifically suited for designing “green” homes that are easier to build and more affordable.
Alluding to the shift toward “green” technology and environmentally friendly building practices, designers are expecting homes to reflect natural design features. Natural woods, neutral tones and simple accents are the key for 2012 design.