The Best Energy-Efficient Upgrades With High ROI
Upgrading for energy-efficiency can be expensive. When done right, it could also have a high return on investment, much like what a home solar panel system. These improvements help to cut costs and energy consumption, and may even increase home value.
The first thing that most homeowners should consider before making a series of energy-efficient home improvements is an energy audit. An energy audit is a professional assessment of a home's energy consumption, although there are ways that homeowners can ascertain their energy consumption independently. Energy audits include:
- a room-by-room inspection of the home
- testing of certain systems, such as heating and cooling
- discussion of the way residents use the home
The results provide homeowners with the information they need to determine which upgrades or repairs will offer the best return for their needs.
In some cases, the home improvements with the greatest returns for energy efficiency do not have to cost a great deal themselves. People might not think to target the lighting first, simply because lights do not consume anywhere close to a majority of energy for the home. However, switching out old incandescent light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs is a simple investment that might not even require homeowners to buy new light switches or fixtures. For less than a few hundred dollars, many Sand Key homes could have entirely new lighting that will last years longer, provide the same amount of lighting, and consume far less energy.
Heating and Cooling
Fixing and upgrading the home's heating and air conditioning could make the most notable difference of all. People rely on their homes to keep them warm or cool throughout the year, and this can cost thousands of dollars in energy consumption. Identifying and eliminating sources of wasted energy could dramatically cut homeowners' usage, providing them with a more comfortable home at the same time.
People who are unsure where to start should consider upgrading their thermostat, if the one they currently use is old. Programmable thermostats, when used correctly, can demand less energy by timing the load on the system ideally. Smart thermostats can also give homeowners real-time data about their home energy use, so they can create settings that are more efficient.
Of course, thermostats are only the face of a system that could have many more inefficiencies to address. The HVAC appliances themselves, such as a furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump, are rated for a peak efficiency that goes down over the years. Technological improvements generally mean that newer machines have greater efficiency. Replacing these machines when they get old often translates into an improvement that is noticeable on utility bills almost immediately.
There are basically three functions of a home's heating and cooling system: remove or add heat to the home, deliver it to the various rooms, and keep the heat in or out as long as possible. The last step relies almost entirely on insulation and air sealing. If that part of the equation is inadequate, the system will have to work harder and use more energy to keep the home at the desired temperature. Adding insulation, particularly to the attic, could reduce heat transfer during all seasons, and ensure that the HVAC systems do not have to increase their output.
Making energy-efficient upgrades is a matter of knowing what a particular home needs, and helping to solve those problems in effective and efficient ways. By targeting their home improvement dollars to the systems that use the most energy or are the easiest to fix, homeowners can maximize the return on their investment, while cutting their energy consumption.