(ARA) - A tight economy means most American homeowners are keeping close watch on their budgets, cutting spending on frivolities and extras.

For this reason, many folks have opted to put large-scale projects, such as kitchen and bathroom remodels, on the back burner for the time being. But, they haven't completely stopped updating their homes. Homeowners are still forging ahead with improvements, but they're allocating hard-earned dollars to smaller projects -- ones that not only boost their home's overall appeal, but also provide other added benefits in the long run.

Increasingly more home improvement products deliver more bang for the buck by delivering multiple benefits a must in today's increasingly frugal economy. But being budget-conscious doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality and performance in the home improvement arena. From high-performing wall paints to sophisticated thermostat controls, and everything in between, today's home products work smarter -- not just harder -- with modern budgets in mind.

Interior paint is one home improvement product that has made the significant "smart" advances in recent years. Today's environmentally-minded coatings offer little or no ozone-damaging (and odor-causing) volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a wide range of colors and finishes, ideal for any decor. These low-odor paints make easy -- and less smelly -- work of painting.

Some paints, such as Dutch Boy's new Refresh paint offer zero VOCs and take things a step further. Thanks to the inclusion of proven Arm & Hammer odor-eliminating technology, Refresh paint helps remove common household airborne odors from kitchens, laundry and family rooms, bathrooms, nurseries and basements. This paint also provides excellent hide, scrubbability and durability, keeping walls looking fresh and attractive for years to come.

Heating and cooling controls also offer multiple benefits. The average American household spends $1,400 a year on energy bills, according to the Alliance to Save Energy. A simple programmable thermostat that controls temperature on both heating and cooling systems keeps a home at the ultimate comfort level and helps maintain the most efficient temperatures all day long, boosting overall energy efficiency while decreasing utility bills.

Lighting systems also have become smarter. They can be designed to restrict energy output through controls and sensors. They also can feature such long-lasting, energy-saving lamps as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. All of these technologies provide quality light, cut energy usage and save homeowners money.

In the kitchen, appliances are amazingly more efficient. Some stoves, for example, can communicate remotely with homeowners via email or cell phone text messages, providing alerts if they have been left on. Users can then remotely turn off the appliance using an Internet interface.

Even such simple things as purchased in-home water coolers (as opposed to expensive rental systems) and on-faucet filtration systems have made getting a drink of water smarter by replacing less environmentally friendly not to mention, pricey individual plastic bottles. This cuts down on petroleum usage and energy-draining plastic manufacturing and delivers purified water to homeowners with less waste and price, including the delivery costs of cooler rental programs.

While Americans are searching for bargains for projects that make their homes look and perform better, they most definitely don't want to sacrifice quality -- and -- they don't have to. Modern home improvement products work smarter and better delivering multiple benefits through improved technology without draining a homeowner's closely monitored bank account.

While 2009 might not be the year to build that addition, gut your kitchen or modernize your old bathroom, it's the perfect year to start thinking about how you can make your home work for you and save money in the process.

For more information about Refresh paint, please visit www.dutchboy.com/refresh, or call (800) 828-5669.

Courtesy of ARAcontent