11 Great High-ROI Energy-Efficient Upgrades For Your Home
Recent trends are pushing home builders to make houses more energy-efficient. But what if a home was constructed before the newest technologies were released? For homeowners interested in making their houses more eco-friendly, there's no need to rebuild. Energy-efficient home improvement projects can put older homes on par with the latest sustainable construction trends and deliver a strong return on investment (ROI). Keep reading to learn about 11 energy-efficient home improvement projects that practically pay for themselves.
Conduct an Energy Audit
An energy audit typically costs a few hundred dollars and doesn't directly save money, but it points out where the best ROI opportunities are. An energy auditor will inspect a house and provide a list of the items that could be replaced or improved to save money. Almost every home has issues where inexpensive fixes will start paying off right away. The best audits are conducted by local utility companies and environmentally focused non-profits. Consumers should be wary of "audits" offered by businesses that have a solution to sell.
Upgrade to Energy Star Appliances
Appliances with the Energy Star designation have qualified as low energy users in EPA tests. Homeowners may come out ahead by swapping out current appliances, but it's always worth their while to insist on Energy Star at replacement time. Washers, dryers, refrigerators, freezers, and dishwashers were the worst offenders in pre-Energy Star years.
Optimize Home Insulation
Insulation improves all the time. Newer products are more efficient, and their materials are sustainable. Even if the insulation was adequate at one time, there might be savings from adding more, especially in attics and crawl spaces. Updating old insulation keeps the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, saving homeowners money on utilities.
Improve Attic Ventilation
An energy-efficient attic space is insulated from the house but connected to the outdoors. A ventilated attic reduces summer air conditioning costs and prevents moisture build-up in winter. It can thwart frost, mold, and water damage to the insulation and rafters. Avoiding the cost of repairs to the attic easily justifies the cost of good ventilation.
Install Energy-Efficient Windows
Older windows can lose up to 30 percent of a home's heat and AC, but modern window technology has slashed that number. Newer windows save energy, stop drafts, and make homes more comfortable. As with appliances, the top windows have the Energy Star designation. The combined savings on monthly utility bills can quickly recoup the initial cost of the windows.
Switch to Steel Doors
Steel doors look great from the street, and they also keep out heat and cold in their seasons. For maximum efficiency, seals and caulks must be replaced during installation. The improved curb appeal of a steel door can make it easier to secure a higher asking price when selling the home.
Go with a Tankless Water Heater
Every time someone opens the hot water faucet, a traditional water heater needs to warm the whole tank. Space-saving tankless heaters provide hot water just in time, reducing heating costs by as much as one-third. Modern homebuyers will be pleased to see that a tankless water heater is already installed.
Keep Cool and Save Cash with a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat can reduce the home's temperature by about 10 degrees for about eight hours a day and deliver 10 percent heating cost savings. Most people are asleep or out of the house often enough to make this an attainable goal. A smart thermostat can be programmed by day and hour, or more recent models adjust to the residents' lifestyle.
Replace AC Filters for Energy-Efficient Permormance
It's easy to forget to swap air filters, so setting up a calendar reminder is a good idea. A clean AC unit runs more efficiently, uses less energy, and lasts longer. The benefits of clean AC filters go beyond financial savings. Clean air is better for allergies and overall health.
Seal Ventilation Ducts
Not many houses have well-sealed ventilation ducts. They leak heat, cooling, and dollars into basements and crawl spaces. While it's not a huge job, there's more to it than meets the eye. It requires special tape (NOT duct tape, despite the name) and mastic.
Invest in Solar Panels
The payback isn't a fast as some other improvements, but if you plan to stay in your house long-term, it's real, and it's large. Typically the break-even point is around seven years, and after that, energy is free for the system's life, which is usually 25-30 years.
Another option is to install enough panels to provide most but not all of your energy needs. The initial investment and the long-term savings are lower.
Energy-Efficient Upgrades Promise Short-term & Long-term Savings
In any home, some energy-efficient home improvements are "low-hanging fruit," while others have a payoff after several years. Whether you're a long-time homeowner or just getting started in real estate investment, these projects are worth considering.