Eco-Friendly Home Upgrades
An eco-friendly house delivers triple value. You save on utility bills in the short term, help the environment by using less energy, and attract a higher home price when you’re ready to sell. Start with a whole-house energy audit, performed by an expert or local utility company. You might qualify for a tax break, right up front! Here are six more ways to gain eco-benefits from a green home.
Seal and Insulate:
A simple, inexpensive first step: grab a caulk gun. Use caulk or foam sealant to plug leaks around windows, doors, and ducts. Wrap hot water pipes with insulation, and cover that old water heater with an insulating blanket. This will save at least 22 percent each year on your water heating bills. Make sure you have about 20 inches of cellulose insulation in the attic. The average cost of insulation is $870 to $1900, but you’ll save about 20 percent per year on heating and cooling costs.
Get Smart Thermostats:
A Smart Thermostat allows you to set your home temperature by day and time, cutting energy consumption by at least 10 percent. Advanced thermostats can be controlled by a simple phone app. In most cases, the installation cost of about $250 pays for itself in a few months.
Tankless water heaters are about 30 percent more efficient than standard ones. Installation starts at about $1,000 for an electric whole-house model. For more energy savings, replace your refrigerator, washer, dryer, and dishwasher with energy-efficient models.
Replace Doors and Windows:
Replace leaky doors and windows with insulated ones. The cost ranges from $200 to $800 per window including installation, but you’ll save up to 33 percent per year on heating and cooling bills while adding significant home value. You can also claim federal tax credits for 10 percent of the cost.
Install a New HVAC:
Heating and cooling systems are your home’s largest energy users, accounting for 35 to 50 percent of annual utility bills. A new one ranges from $3700 to $7100, but a high-efficiency air and heating system is very attractive to potential buyers. Plus, if you take advantage of government incentives and rebates, installing an energy-efficient system could cost roughly the same as a standard unit.
The cost of installing solar panels depends upon the size and type of system you need, but a whole house installation typically runs between $25,000 to $35,000. In return, a solar energy system can increase your home’s value by at least $15,000. Be sure to maximize savings by enrolling in your local utility’s subsidy program. Check the National Utility Rate Database to see what’s available in your area
Some energy-saving ideas cost absolutely nothing. For example, turning off lights and power strips you’re not using could save about 12 percent on electric bills per year. Being informed and proactive about home energy usage adds up to lots of extra dollars in your pocket, plus it helps our environment by reducing dependence on non-renewable fuels.