Improving the energy efficiency of homes and residences seems to top everyone’s wish list these days. Making your home more energy efficient not only makes your home more comfortable year round, but it can also save you money long term as well. In fact, a study done by the state of Maryland concluded that for every dollar you spend on home improvements that increase your energy efficiency, you’ll save seven dollars over the lifetime of that improvement. Depending on what it is that you have done, this can be a tremendous saving on your energy bills. However, not everything that you do to improve your energy efficiency will benefit you equally; these 10 improvements are the ones that will get you the biggest bang for your buck.
The vast majority of homes, particularly those built before the 1960s, are under-insulated, meaning that they don’t have enough insulation in the attic, walls, or exterior. Adding insulation to your attic, the underside of your roof deck, your exterior beneath your siding, and inside your walls can really make an impact on how comfortable your home is and how well it performs. Best of all, adding attic insulation will recoup you a whopping 113% of the cost at the time of resale.
Sealing Air Gap
Did you know that if you have a poor air seal around your windows and doors that you could be losing as much as 40% of the energy you use to heat and cool your home? Poor air seal is one of the biggest problems most homeowners face, and they don’t even know it. Sealing up this gap will make the most significant immediate impact on your energy bills.
Fixing Your Chimney
If you have a fireplace, about 20% of the energy you use to heat and cool that room could be drifting out, right up the chimney. Why? Because most chimney dampers aren’t installed properly or don’t fit quite right. So all the warm and cool air you pump in flies right up even with the flue shut. Fix your chimney to make that room a lot more comfortable year round.
Attic vents are another area that most homeowners are unintentionally overlooking. Attic vents remove excess heat from your attic year round. In the summer, this prevents your attic and roof from overheating, which means that less heat gets transferred down to your living spaces, which in turn means that your home stays cooler longer.
Hot Water Tank
Of all the different energy saving appliances out there, the hot water tank is the one to replace first. Old hot water tanks use significantly more energy to heat your water than newer models. And if you aren’t attached to the idea of a tank, moving to a tankless model, which heats water as you need it, will save you even more.
Your HVAC system is another area that could be draining your home of energy each month. There are several issues here:
- Older systems are much less energy efficient than newer models – if yours is more than 10 years old, consider upgrading.
- Many homes have systems that are too large for space, which means they use more energy than they need to.
- Old or dirty ductwork could lose as much as 20% of the energy you use to heat your home as it travels through the house.
- Not performing regular maintenance could mean that your HVAC is working harder than it needs to, resulting in more energy usage.
Replacing your current HVAC system with a newer, more energy efficient model that is properly sized for your home will save you hundreds each year.
Thermostats today do more than controlling the temperature of the room; they also learn your patterns and will shut themselves off when you’re away. Investing in a smart thermostat will give you greater control over the energy you use each day, saving you money you didn’t know you were wasting.
Radiant Heat Mats
If you are replacing the flooring anywhere in your home, consider putting in a radiant heat mat. Each mat only uses about the same amount of electricity as a light bulb but will make your room feel much warmer and more comfortable than your current system. This is because the mat heats you, and your furnishings, but not the air. So there’s less wasted heat and less wasted energy.
Energy Star Appliances
If you plan on remodeling your kitchen, make sure you opt for Energy Star rated appliances, which can save you money each month that you run them. Look for models that use not only less energy, but less water as well to save even more.
Water Saving Appliances
A lot of people focus on heating, cooling, and electricity, and overlook their water usage. Investing in water saving appliances, such as low-flush toilets and water restricting faucets will save you thousands of gallons of water every year. And with new technologies you won’t even notice a drop in performance.
Upgrade and Save
As long as you’re having work done on your home, you may want to consider having some energy upgrades done at the same time. Eventually, you may find that these improvements pay for themselves.