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5 Ways To Improve Your Home’s Energy EfficiencyOctober 23rd, 2020 by
As summer gives way to fall, you may be thinking about last-minute home improvement projects you can squeeze in before the weather turns cold. While it’s natural to want to tackle any remaining outdoor projects first, it may make more sense to turn your attention indoors or, more specifically, to projects that can improve your home’s energy efficiency.
While simple fixes, such as installing weather stripping around the doors, unplugging unused electronics and adjusting how you use your appliances, can help improve your home’s energy consumption, they’re not long-term solutions. They also don’t add any real value to your home.
If you want to improve your home’s energy efficiency in a way that contributes to its overall value, you may have to invest in larger upgrades. To help you get started, we researched and listed five home improvement projects designed to cut energy costs and boost your home’s energy score.
Understanding Your Home’s Energy Score
Before you start tackling your fall to-do list, it’s important that you understand your home’s energy score and what affects it. The U.S. Department of Energy developed the home energy score to help homeowners better understand their consumption levels on a monthly basis, as well as identify areas of their homes that could be more efficient.
The score takes into consideration several factors, including the home’s systems, structural integrity, appliances and home electronics, lighting, and climate. The R-value of your home’s materials may also affect your home’s score.
While you may receive several recommendations with your home energy score, some are more likely to boost your home’s energy efficiency than others. Here are the top five you will likely see.
1. Install Energy Efficient Windows
Replacing old windows with new, energy-efficient ones is not a cheap chore, as the average cost to replace just a single window is anywhere between $300 and $1,000. However, the initial upfront investment can yield substantial long-term savings, and greatly improve the value of your home.
In terms of savings, new windows can reduce energy consumption by as much as 18% in the summertime and 24% in the winter. Homeowners who replace old panes with new, proper-fitting ones see an average of 25% savings on their energy bills, which can amount to hundreds of dollars a year.
New windows can also increase your home’s value by as much as 75%. While this type of return may not make much sense if you plan to sell your home immediately, the return, combined with several years of saving money on your electric bill, may make this improvement an enticing one.
2. Invest in a Smart Thermostat
Smart technology is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and improve your home’s energy efficiency. A smart thermostat allows you to achieve and maintain ideal indoor temperatures with minimal effort. This means that you don’t have to worry about over-cooling or over-heating your home when you’re in bed, at work, or on a week-long vacation.
Even if you invest in a more affordable model, keeping your home at an optimal temperature is as easy as pressing a few buttons. Wi-Fi enabled thermostats allow you to check on your home’s environment from anywhere you have internet access and to control temperatures from your smartphone or computer.
3. Upgrade Your Insulation
Your home’s insulation plays a major role in its home energy score. Well-insulated walls don’t just keep the cold air out and the warm air in — they can also save you a small fortune on your energy bill.
Insulation, like many building materials, comes with an “R-value.” An R-value tells you how well a material can prevent the transfer of heat. The lower the R-value your insulation, the greater the risk of heat loss. If your home’s insulation is old or has a low R-value, consider replacing it with new and energy-efficient material. Aim for an R-value of around R-19 for your walls and R-30 to R-40 for your roof.
4. Replace Appliances
Kitchen appliances can be a major source of energy consumption in your home. Newer, energy-efficient models — especially those with an Energy Star certification — can reduce energy consumption by between 10% and 50%. There is also the tax credit to consider – depending on which appliances you replace you may be able to claim hundreds or even thousands of dollars in the year you make the replacement.
What appliances make the most impact? Though this varies from home to home, common cost-saving upgrades include clothes washers and dryers, ranges, refrigerators, air purifiers, and dehumidifiers.
5. Update Your Lighting
For most homeowners, lighting accounts for one-third of their overall energy bill. Simple lighting upgrades, such as adding dimmer switches, motion sensors, timers, and occupancy sensors can go a long way toward reducing energy waste in your home. However, if you want to take steps to reduce your carbon footprint immediately, all you have to do is change your lightbulbs.
LED lightbulbs are 80% more efficient than standard fluorescent bulbs. With an LED bulb, 95% of the energy is converted into light and only 5% is wasted as heat. With fluorescents, the opposite is true: 5% of energy becomes light and 95% gets wasted as heat.
Winter will be here before you know it, so don’t wait too long to get started on improving your energy score.