Energy- and Money-Saving Home Improvement Projects

08262016_soc_energyEco-Friendly And Financially Responsible Upgrades For Your House

Energy costs are a huge expense for home dwellers these days, so people are always looking for various ways to be more energy-efficient within the home while also not draining their bank accounts.

There are numerous ways to get a money-smart energy-efficiency update, with many of them being just day- or weekend-long renovation projects.

Seal your ducts – Your ducts carry hot or cold air to different parts of the home in forced-air heating and cooling systems.

“About 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes and poorly connected ducts,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Wrapping these ducts can save you big money.

Add insulation – Now that you’ve plugged up the drafts in your home, you can take some time to add insulation, a basic — but crucial — next step.

“It turns out that about half of the homes in the United States are underinsulated,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan to U.S. News & World Report.

“If you added up all the leaks, holes and gaps in a typical home’s envelope, it would be the equivalent of having a window open every day of the year,” adds the EPA site.

An added bonus: Installing insulation is fairly cheap and simple.

“With a little how-to research, installation is relatively easy, but be sure to wear a mask and gloves, and don’t cover any vents — and don’t fall through the ceiling!” advises real estate finance expert Steven McLinden in a Business Insider article.

Replace windows and doors – For a more thorough and slightly more expensive home improvement project to save energy (and, in the long run, money), try replacing windows and doors throughout your house with high-efficiency ones. Use wood-framed windows and any door that is not hollow inside, as air is able to infiltrate hollow doors.

“If you can replace windows, you can see a huge savings,” says Senior Home Remodeling Advisor Mark Paulson, who recommends at least double-paned replacements. “Buy the best windows you can. With windows, you truly get what you pay for.”

Get an advanced thermostat – McLinden also discovered that you can save up to $180 per year on a programmable thermostat for your home, which Energy Star also finds to be more efficient than a regular thermostat. Programmable thermostats adjust temperatures automatically and start at around just $60.

McLinden also recommends smart thermostats — which can be more expensive.

“Some smart thermostats have monitoring systems that track energy use in various circuits around the house, so you can make adjustments where needed,” he says. “Before taking that plunge, consider smartphone apps that allow you to dim lights and control thermostats, power strips and other connected devices from your phone.”

Upgrade your water heater – Experts say that water heating can comprise a large chunk of annual energy usage in a home, so installing a high-efficiency water heater can really drive down energy costs. Contributor to U.S. News & World Report Steven Holbrook found tankless water heaters to be especially advantageous.

“Tankless water heaters allow users to shave 20 percent off their water bill. In addition to lasting five to 10 years longer than tank heaters, tankless heaters never run out of hot water,” he wrote, adding that you also get a federal tax rebate through Energy Star if you purchase one.

Replace outdated HVAC systems – Heating or cooling systems that are between 10 and 20 years old are probably going to be inefficient, according to Energy Star. On the other hand, even a standard updated system can save you money on energy bills, and a high-efficiency unit will save you even more.

More important than being generally quick and simple, the aforementioned home improvement projects give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to saving on home energy. Furthermore, financing some of the larger projects can also be straightforward, thanks to various loans available through your financial institution.


Published by Cumberland County Federal Credit Union

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