Remodeling offers many benefits beyond the opportunity to make your home trendier and more comfortable. The home remodeling process also offers you multiple opportunities to slash your energy usage and dramatically reduce your monthly bills. Below we have explored 8 upgrades that can transform your home into an energy-efficient haven which will result in enviable cost savings for you.
1. Upgrade to Energy Efficient LED Light Bulbs
Homeowners’ demand for LED lighting is currently trending up. Thanks to the sustainability of LED light bulbs, this is a trend that the U.S. government is actively encouraging. Analysts at the U.S. Department of Energy forecast that by the year 3030, it would be possible for U.S. residents to save a staggering $26 billion on energy costs. If you are having a tough time wrapping your head around how much money that is, here’s a comparison to help put things in perspective: It’s about the same amount that 24 million homeowners combined would spend on their power bills.
Want to know what your slice of that gigantic pie would amount to? Wondering how you can get in on this tremendous cost savings opportunity? The answer is simple. If you haven’t already upgraded to using LED lighting in your home, you should do so now. This is an upgrade that makes excellent economic sense because it doesn’t take long for it to pay for itself:
Your future electricity bills will be lower. By simply replacing the light bulbs in the five light fixtures you use most often in your home, you’re likely to realize an annual cost savings of $75.
You won’t have to change your light bulbs as frequently, saving you time on shopping for and replacing burned-out bulbs.
Why LEDs Are Better Than CFL and Incandescent Bulbs:
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, energy-efficient LED light bulbs are far superior to traditional incandescent, halogen, and CFL bulbs. There are multiple reasons for this:
Their typical lifespan ranges from 3 to 25 percent longer than conventional bulbs.
They consume up to 80 percent less power than their traditional counterparts do.
They cost substantially less to operate than older types of bulbs do.
They’re available in a fantastic selection of colors, styles, shapes, and wattages. They’re also available in more traditional styles and shapes that are ideal for use when remodeling historic homes.
2. Upgrade Insulation
Has your home been properly insulated? If you haven’t already air-sealed your home and insulated your attic, basement, and the areas around your home’s crawl spaces; EPA data suggests that by making these simple upgrades, you could probably save an estimated 15 percent on your annual cooling and heating costs. Not only that, home remodeling, property management, and real estate experts agree that you’re likely to recover slightly more than the entire upfront cost of attic insulation when you re-sell your home; this is an upgrade that has been reliably demonstrated to increase homes’ resale values in the recent past.
3. Upgrade to Energy Efficient Windows
Old, drafty windows can cost you a massive sum every month when it comes to heating, lighting, and cooling your home. Consider replacing your old windows if they are either stained beyond cleaning or inefficient beyond repairing. You’re likely to notice a positive and dramatic difference in both your energy bills and the appearance of your rooms.
If your home’s windows are double-paned and made of transparent (clear) glass, the associated cost savings of upgrading them is less than for single-paned windows, but still significant.
It may surprise you to learn that Florida homeowners tend to be the biggest beneficiaries of the cost savings from this upgrade. In Florida, most homeowners are spending more on air conditioning their homes than they are on heating them; the cost savings from this upgrade come about because air conditioning costs diminish when their homes’ windows operate more efficiently. Here’s a look at some average annual cost savings for this upgrade:
- In Florida, average homeowners save $111 by upgrading from double-paned windows to energy-efficient windows.
- In New England, the average cost savings is $91 for this window upgrade.
- In Texas and the west-south central region of the U.S., the average cost savings is $90.
4. Upgrade Air Conditioning and Furnace Units
In the average U.S. household, heating and cooling the home accounts for about half of the family’s annual power expenditures. Exchanging your old air conditioner and furnace units for up-to-date HVAC technology can substantially improve your costs for heating and cooling your home. You’re likely to save eight percent on your cooling expenditures by investing in a new energy-efficient central air conditioning system, as well as save on costly HVAC repair that could arise down the road.
In the cold northern U.S. states, Department of Energy analysts estimate that replacing your older furnace with a new oil-powered furnace will save you about $94 annually; replacing your older furnace with a new energy-efficient gas furnace will save you about $66 annually. Depending on the winter conditions of where you’re located, replacing a working furnace may not be a top priority. However, there are still signs your heater may need to be replaced that raise concerns for the health and safety of your family.
5. Upgrade Water Heaters
You also have energy-efficient choices for replacing old, inefficient water heaters. A couple of your best options are as follows:
- Solar water heaters: are popular in Europe and homeowners in the U.S. are starting to realize their power-saving advantages as well.
- Tankless water heaters: conserve energy by eliminating the need to perpetually keep heating water that won’t be used immediately.
- Upgrading your water heater: can contribute significantly to the reduction of your power bills, since your power bill is affected by every instance of hot water usage in your home.
6. Install an Energy-Efficient, Low-Flow Showerhead
A new showerhead is a cost-effective means of saving energy and reducing both your water and your power bills. Experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have pointed out that most homeowners will recover the upfront cost of the new showerhead in only four short months of use.
How It Works: A low-flow showerhead is designed to give you a refreshing shower while making a significant reduction in the amount of water you use in the process. This, in turn, requires much less heating action from your water heater. The result is that you will save money and increase efficiency on both your water and power usage. As far as worthwhile home upgrades go, this one is clearly a winner.
7. Install a Water and Power-Efficient Dishwasher
Older dishwashers consume significant amounts of both water and power. You need substantial amounts of power to heat the water that the dishwasher utilizes, not to mention the amount of power it takes to fuel the long cycles required to get heavily soiled dishes clean. Upgrading an old dishwasher can make a significant difference in how much water and power your household consumes.
Brand new dishwashers utilize the latest technology to significantly improve efficiency. The following are some of the advances that a new, energy-efficient dishwasher can offer:
- Sensors can now detect dirty spots on your dishes and adjust the amount of water used for cleaning them.
- Superior water filtration capabilities ensure that grimy water is now efficiently removed from the dishwasher, instead of circulating over your dishes and requiring high volumes of detergent for removal. This, in turn, results in less water used to remove the soapy water from the surface of your dishes. You benefit from improved hygiene, as well as, better efficiency.
- Improved jet technology requires less power consumption.
8. Upgrade Your Laundry Room with Energy-Efficient Appliances
Experts at the EPA estimate that you’ll save around $490 over the lifetime of an energy-efficient washing machine and that you’ll enjoy even greater savings if you also install an energy-efficient clothes dryer. Some of the newer model clothes dryers offer features such as moisture sensors that can detect when clothes are dry and automatically shut off, saving you from paying for a needlessly long drying cycle.
As you can see, there are quite a few home upgrades that are cost-effective to undertake if you consider the overall cost savings they will help you to realize in the long term. These eight upgrades have the potential to make your home much more energy efficient, possibly saving you wheelbarrows full of cash on future utility invoices.
| About the Guest Author:
Thomas J. Salomone