Top Energy Efficient Home Improvements to Ultimately Save Money
Are you looking for energy efficient home improvements to save you money?
We all want to save money when it comes to choosing what home improvements to make. Here is our list of the top energy efficient home improvements that will ultimately save money in the long run.
Plug Up the Leaks
The best way to spend your money first is to plug up all the air leaks in your home. Check spots where cold or warm air may leak from outside or in your duct system where warm or cold air may be leaking into the basement instead of being pushed into the main part of your home.
As explained in Drafty Windows: How to Find and Solve the Problem, you can test areas you think may be leaking or areas prone to leakage with a lighted candle held a few inches from the source: doors, baseboards, window frames, pipes and vents. Turn off all the fans in the house, heating and air conditioning first. Use caulk and add weather stripping to the gaps in doors.
You also might have the wrong sized vents if you have a lot of drafts around them. Typically, ducts leak so much into the basement, attic or crawlspace that if you seal and wrap them, it can cut your HVAC costs by 30%. You can replace them or add foam insulation around them, although you will get the most for your money if you hire a professional to do this, unless you’re very handy. A little duct tape – the name is misleading – won’t do the job!
It also might be a good idea to cover the windows with plastic or use heavier drapes in the winter over your windows, put a door sweep on your garage door, and make sure your fireplace damper is closed.
The most important thing for cold weather, by far, is filling any penetrations in your attic floor: around pipes, chimneys, wiring, and recessed light fixtures in the ceiling below. You may not realize it, but those little cracks can really blow up your heating and cooling – but especially heating – costs because heat rises. Do this job before any insulation is placed or blow into your attic.
Top Off Your Insulation
Speaking of insulation, you may need to fill it in. However, unless it’s been damaged by water, fiberglass insulation doesn’t need to be replaced very often. Don’t let a contractor talk you into something you don’t need. In addition, it may need to be fluffed if it’s been compacted. Fiberglass insulation needs to have an air pocket to be effective.
You may need more insulation. You need to have at least 10 inches up there and the gaps and cracks need to be filled. This is possible to do yourself. Make sure you wear a mask, don’t close the vents, and be careful not to fall through the ceiling. Fiberglass insulation ranges from 50 cents to $1 per square foot. The blown-in kind may cost almost double that.
Another thing you can do, for very cold climates (especially if you have an old home with no insulation) is blow insulation into your walls from the outside. It’s a bigger job and it makes more of a mess because holes need to be drilled into the siding but if you’re re-siding anyway, that’s the time to do it.
It could be time to replace your old furnace or boiler and air conditioner. If you have an HVAC system that’s more than 20 years old (cooling only lasts about 10 years) they will be very inefficient by today’s standards. It may cost less monthly to just replace them. You could save 10-20% without even buying top-dollar products. If you select high-efficiency units, you can save much more.
As mentioned in How to Drastically Reduce Your Heating Bill with New Windows, it might be time to replace your windows. High quality windows are pricey, so this might be the one to wait on until you have other reasons to replace them: easy operation and cleaning, improved resale value and of course, aesthetics. In the meantime, it might help you to simply add storm windows if you don’t have them.
One last thing I would recommend is switching to a programmable thermostat. They save about 10% on your heating and cooling bills, so they pay for themselves relatively quickly – a matter of months. You can even install one that will alert you if you’re away from home and your furnace breaks in the dead of winter. Trust me. You do not want frozen pipes.
Energy Efficient Home Improvements Rebates
In addition to optimizing your home for energy efficiency, Consumers Energy offers cash rebates on qualifying energy efficient improvements. For example, you may quality for up to $400 on insulation and $15 for each replacement window or $40 for each glass door opening. For more information, please see Insulation and Windows Rebates.
Choosing effective energy efficient home improvements is a smart step for every homeowner. From simple projects like fluffing your insulation to the more the complex project of replacing your windows, each decision will set you on the path of having an energy efficient home.
Please contact us today if we can be of help. We’re here whenever you need us.