Is going green worth it?

I was excited to see a website that provided a long list of green products for home remodeling and calculations estimating their bang for their buck, otherwise known as “return on investment” (ROI). After all, if you’re going to spend money going green, it’s nice if what you buy can help you save money in the long run. While offers a ton of suggestions–from VOC-free paint and compact fluorescent light bulbs to solar panels and radiant floor heating—and then estimates their rates of return, I just don’t trust their math.

The site says its rankings are based on reports from the U.S. Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star for Homes Program and U.S. Green Building Council, among others, but their calculations appear, if not wrong, then dated. For instance, says you’ll get the biggest ROI out of buying a programmable thermostat for $115, for a 156 percent return on investment. When I checked, most programmable thermostats are around the $35-$50 mark. Same goes for low-flow shower heads, which they list at $180 for a $200 savings per year and ROI of 111 percent. But the low flow showerheads listed on the site itself were mostly between $25-$50. (On the plus side, the lower, more accurate price would actually increase the ROI, making it even more worth your while.)

Perhaps is best used as a brainstorming site. It lists dozens of green building ideas in one place, with additional information about their environmental benefits. Just be sure to do your own calculations before you tear apart your bathroom.