Making your home more energy efficient is a great way to help conserve resources while saving you some money on utilities each month. While newer homes are frequently outfitted with energy efficient systems and innovations from the start, most older homes can use some upgrades to help them maximize their efficiency. If you think your home may benefit from an energy audit or overhaul, consider these options to help get you started.
Seven Energy Efficient Renovation Ideas for Your Home
Making your home more energy efficient doesn't mean you need to completely gut and remodel; some of these options can be completed in a spare weekend. Each option will help to increase the efficiency of your home, saving you money on your long-term utility bills.
Add Some Insulation
Because most existing homes are already insulated, many homeowners don't give it much thought. Upgrading or adding to your existing insulation, however, can increase your home energy efficiency by helping to maintain the temperature of your home. This translates to lower heating and cooling bills.
The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association lists the recommended amount of insulation for your home based upon climate. By upgrading to these recommended levels, you can save as much as 12 BTUs per pound of insulation each year that it is installed.
Fix Air Leaks
Fixing air leaks around your windows and doors is one of the fastest and least expensive ways to make your home more energy efficient. Windows in older homes may have gaps around the framing that can let air through. Cracked or missing weatherstripping and cracked or broken window panes can also let warm air out and cold air in, lowering your home's energy efficiency, and costing you as much as $300 a year.
- caulk around all interior and exterior window frames. Use a high-quality window and door caulk to ensure it lasts.
- Replace all the weatherstripping on the moving parts of your windows.
- Remove the glazier's points from around cracked window panes with a pair of pliers, then pull out the old pane. Replace it with a new one before sealing it up new points and a high-quality glazing compound.
Replace Your Windows
If you have old single-pane windows in your house, replacing them with new, energy efficient windows can save you as much as $340 a year, according to Energy Star. Even if you have double-paned windows that are older, or not Energy Star rated, you can still save as much as $70 a year by replacing them.
Add an On Demand Water Heater
Water heaters are one of the biggest energy drains in most homes. The way a standard water heater works, it must heat and maintain up to 100 gallons of water to be ready to use at any given time. Even when you aren't using the water, it's still using energy to stay hot.
A point-of-use, or on demand heater, however, heats only the water you are currently using - around 2 - 5 gallons per minute. According to Energy.gov, this can translate into an energy savings of approximately 34 percent, and a financial savings of $100 per year.
Upgrade Your Faucets
Most kitchen and bathroom sink faucets emit water at a rate of about 2.2 gallons per minute, while some shower heads may emit water at a rate of up to 10 gallons per minute. Replacing your faucets with energy efficient models that put out water at a rate of only 1.5 gallons per minute will cut water usage by approximately 30 percent, according to the EPA. Replacing your faucets and shower heads is non-invasive; there is no need to upgrade your pipes to get the savings.
Upgrade Your Toilets
In the 1980s, toilets made the switch from 6 gallons of water per flush, to a more economical 3 gallons per flush. Newer, eco-friendly toilets like those made by Toto use a water-saving 1.28 gallons per flush, which can save as many as 24,000 gallons per year in an average household.
Replace Your HVAC
Older and oversized HVAC systems can drain your home of energy. Replacing your existing HVAC with an Energy Star rated model can save you as much as 20 percent in energy costs. To further maximize the savings, make the following changes at the same time to save as much as $200 a year:
- Invest in a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust when you aren't around.
- Set up different zones in the house so you only heat and cool those areas being used.
- Get regular maintenance to ensure the system stays in proper working order.
Reap the Savings
Making even small changes in your home's energy efficiency pays off in big ways over time. Start making some changes to your home's energy profile and see how much you can save.