Are you one of the many millions of homeowners overpaying for their utilities, but your home still feels cold and not as comfortable as you would like it to be? Well, fortunately there are a few ways to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient.
Ideally, any home improvements you invest in should result in a reduced energy waste and increased short and long term financial savings. According to the Department of Energy, an average home owner spends around $1,900 annually on heating and cooling costs, but actually 30% of this amount is wasted because of inefficient energy usage inside a typical house. Don’t be one of these homeowners, and save big by making wise home improvement choices.
To get you started, here is a list of top three projects that tackle areas in your home where major energy losses may be taking place. Keep in mind that you may need to hire a professional contractor to help you with some of these home improvements, but the extra money you spend now will result in significant long-term cost and energy savings. Moreover, if you are thinking about doing any type of major green home improvements in your home, it may be a wise idea to conduct a professional energy audit, that will identify all the areas in your home that are causing energy waste and increasing your expenses.
One of the things that keeps your home protected and comfortable year round is proper insulation. If there are areas in your house where insulation is lacking, hot and cold air penetrate your home, causing you to waste energy and money on additional heating and cooling. The 5 areas that may require additional insulation are 1. attic 2. walls 3. floors 4. basement 5. crawlspace. The attic (including the attic trap and attic door) is one place where most energy is wasted and should be tackled first. Adding insulation to your attic is also a fairly inexpensive home improvement and one that you can typically do yourself. If additional insulation in hard-to-reach spaces is required, you may need to hire a home remodeling contractor, since adding insulation inside floors and walls is more complicated and requires professional knowledge and experience.
Solar Water Heater
While switching to solar power is a very costly home improvement project that is not for all homes, a less known energy saving option is solar thermal, which harnesses the sun’s energy to heat the water in your home rather than transform it into electricity. This is a more affordable green home improvement that will pay off in a few years time. A typical water heater can account for almost 25% of your entire energy bill. By installing a solar thermal system, you will be able to save 50-80% on your water heating costs, or around $240-380 a year.
An average solar hot water system takes about 50-60 sq. feet on your rooftop and cost between $6,000-$9,000. This is not a cheap home improvement by any means, and there are federal and state government incentives that can help you offset the initial cost of a solar thermal system and its installation. Through 2016, you can take advantage of the federal income credit that allows you to claim up to 30% off installing a home solar system, including a solar thermal system. This is around $1,800-2,700 off the sticker price of the system. Keep in mind that this credit can only be used for your home’s water and not your pool or hot tub.
Caulking and Weatherstripping
According the Department of Energy heating and cooling results for more than 30% of your home’s energy use. If you have a lot of cracks and spaces between the indoors and outdoors, you have an undesirable situation where heat escapes in the winter and cold air escapes in the summer. Thus, by caulking the cracks, an easy and economical home improvement you can do yourself, you will greatly improve the energy efficiency of your home and see the savings in the course of the first year. If you do the job right, you may be able to save $200-300 a year. For this project you can use an all purpose acrylic latex caulk available at your local hardware store.
Similarly, weatherstripping also stops unwanted air from escaping and coming into your home via window and door frames. Like caulking, it is a project that you can take on yourself. Before you start, carefully inspect each side of all your doors and windows for air leaks. To determine the amount of weatherstripping you will need, measure the perimeters of all your targeted windows and doors, add them up and add 5-10% to allow for waste.
You need to choose the right weatherstripping product for each specific location, it needs to withstand the friction as well as regular wear and tear associated with its location. For example, weatherstripping in a window should accommodate the sliding of panes: up, down, sideways, or out. Overall, a quality weatherstripping product should seal well when the window or door is closed, but should also allow for easy opening and closing.
Let me know how you like these ideas, and be sure to share your own ideas as well!