Solar panels are generally installed with the goal of reducing power bills in homes and businesses. However, even better results are possible when a solar power system is combined with other sensible energy efficiency measures. In this case, there are two amounts that get subtracted from your bill: the kilowatt-hour savings achieved by efficient appliances, and the clean power produced by solar panels.
Keep in mind that solar panels don’t reduce the amount of electricity consumed by your property. They reduce the net consumption measured by the power meter, but your total energy usage remains the same.
For example, if a home uses 15,000 kWh per year and a rooftop solar system generates 9,000 kWh, the power meter will only register 6,000 kWh of net consumption. However, this doesn’t change the fact that the home is using 15,000 kWh.
There are two reasons homeowners want to make their homes greener; some people want to go green to protect the environment. Others will go green because it results in more green dollar bills in their wallet.
Fortunately, the two don’t have to be exclusive; you can protect the environment and save money at the same time. A big way to do so is to make sure that you have adequate insulation and ventilation for your roof and the attic space.
Heat rises, and that means most of the heat loss from your home goes out the top of the house. This is especially true if you don’t have adequate insulation and sealing in your attic’s floor space. To make sure your home is as comfortable as possible, to ensure minimal heat loss, to save money on your heating bills, and to help protect the environment, an upgrade in your insulation is in order.
A Wide Variety of Insulation Options
Making the decision to improve your home’s attic and roof insulation is the easy part. The hard part, however, is determining what type of insulation to use, and where to put it.
The easiest (unless you’re having a new roof put on the house), and most effective, way to boost the insulation in your home is to insulate and air seal the attic floor. Many homes have at least some access to this space, and because of the size attics can hold quite a bit of insulation. But where you put the insulation, and what type, can vary even inside the space.
Between the Joists – If you have an unfinished attic space, the most common area to insulate is between the ceiling joists but leaving the area between rafters uninsulated. This provides for maximum air flow through the attic while keeping the living space insulated.
Most commonly the spaces between the joists are filled with blow-in fiberglass insulation. However, the do-it-yourselfer may want to lay down fiberglass batting as it’s easier to work with and there is no special equipment needed. How much should you have? It’s recommended that the R value be at least R-38; or 10-14 inches of insulation.
Between the Rafters – Many homes have increased their living space by finishing the attic. But without insulating the ceiling, the space would be largely uninhabitable most of the year. If this is the case, then you want to insulate between the rafters.
Before you slap up insulation, however, you must remember that the house needs room to “breathe.” If your insulation is pressed tightly against the bottom of the roof decking, there’s nowhere for the air to go, and you can end up with major problems. To counter these problems, baffles are installed to keep a small space between the insulation and the roof deck. As the air in the baffles heats up, it can flow to the peak and out the roof vent.
Planning to Sell or Refinance? Improve Your Home First!
Some people will do home improvements because they want to live in a nicer home. Others will complete them so that they can sell their home for a more. Still others want to refinance, and need to increase the value to get rid of that pesky PMI. And there are even those that are seeking a reverse mortgage soon, and they want to make sure their monthly checks are large enough.
No matter your reason, you don’t want to dump a bunch of time and money into little improvements that won’t affect the value of your house very much. You want to focus on the top improvements to increase your home’s value. Here are a few things that you can do.
Touching up that paint that has been marred, chipped, scraped, and scuffed over the years makes the home feel new. Just don’t get too crazy, an orange, yellow, and green living room is probably too much for potential buyers. 😉
Cost: $3.00 to $6.00 per sq. ft. on average, depending on the paint quality, amount of prep work required, and overall size of the project. A typical interior remodeling painting project for the whole house may cost between $3,000 and $6,000 on average.