5 Money-Saving Upgrades To Make Your Home Energy-Efficient

Did you know the average American household spends about $2,000 annually for utilities? What’s more, $200 to $400 is money wasted due to drafts, air leakage, and outdated HVAC systems. That’s a lot of money, right? You can save that money by making energy efficient upgrades to your home.

Let’s take a look at these money-saving upgrades, shall we?

1. Insulation

A very cost effective way to save on energy is by adding more insulation in the attic, or switching out the typical blanket insulation for either cellulose loose-fill insulation or spray foam insulation. The spray foam insulation is the most effective type of insulation for energy efficiency.

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With that in mind, installing spray foam insulation requires professional installation and it can range anywhere from $1 to $1.50 per square foot.

2. Energy efficient appliances and HVAC system

Older appliances tend to use a of energy and are nowhere near as energy efficient as newer models. Look for appliances and electronics that are ENERGY STAR approved products. By replacing the refrigerator, washer and dryer and even the ranges, you can save 15% on how much energy your home uses.

The same with heating and cooling. When you upgrade your HVAC system, you can save up to 20% to 50% on your energy bills – providing you make some of the other upgrades on this list.

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3. Programmable thermostat

It seems like everything is a smart device doesn’t it? Smart thermostats are an excellent way to reduce the amount of heating and cooling is used, especially when you’re not home. In the winter, you can decrease the temperature when you’re not at home and increase it to a comfortable temperature about 30 minutes before you get home, and vice versa.

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If you don’t want to go the smart thermostat route, there are programmable thermostats where you can change the settings so the temperature is where it’s set to at the desired time.

4. Eliminating air leaks

One of the biggest culprits of wasted energy is air leakages. A whopping 40% of a home’s heating or cooling is lost due to drafty doors and windows and ill-fitted air ducts. You can prevent this by upgrading your doors and windows to high energy options. Not only are the new doors and windows themselves energy efficient, but the new seals will prevent air leakage.

If you cannot afford new windows or doors, you can always use exterior-grade caulking and new weatherstripping to seal up cracks or gaps you may find.

5. Install ceiling fans

Ceiling fans are a great way to add a bit of style to a room, but they can also help circulate the air, regardless of the season. Most fans have a switch that allows you to change the direction the fan moves. In the summer, it should rotate counterclockwise to push the cooler air down, therefore making the air feel cooler than it actually is. In the winter, it should rotate clockwise to pull the cool air upward and push the warm air downward.

Keeping your home’s energy costs as low as possible isn’t just smart as a homeowner, it’s also a good way to increase the value of your home. And, according to HomeLight’s Q2 2020 survey, we are in a seller’s market! 60% of agents who participated in the survey said there were 60% more bidding wars in June 2020 and the market doesn’t seem to be slowing.

That means if you’re looking to sell, these energy efficient upgrades are a great way to pique a buyer’s interest – maybe even more than one!

Why Passive Homes Will Be the Future of Home Building

As individuals and companies alike begin to consider more sustainable building options, Passive Homes are an excellent solution. Referred to as “Passivhaus” in German, this construction concept focuses on airtight insulation to create a living space that does not require additional heating or cooling.

Developed in the 1970s, developers have incorporated the PassivHaus design in homes all over the world and in a variety of climates. As an affordable, eco-friendly and versatile construction solution, these homes will play an essential role in the future of homebuilding.

Affordable

Professionals often regard eco-friendly building solutions as too expensive. While construction costs for passive homes can cost 5 to 10% more upfront than a traditional build, these fees are negligible compared to future savings. As sustainable options become standard, these costs may drop. Passive Homes rely on design principles that promote peak energy efficiency without external systems.

With a focus on proper insulation and minimizing air leakage, homeowners can save on conventional heating costs without needing to invest in expensive forms of renewable energy. While solar panels or other types of eco-friendly power are popular, because of the efficiency of the Passive House, their usage is minimal.

Adaptable

People build Passive Houses all over the globe in a variety of climates. The five main principles of passive homebuilding are versatile and can be altered depending on the environment. The airtight construction utilizes proper heat balance, ensuring that warm air remains inside in cooler climates, and properly ventilates in warmer ones.

 

Another nice feature of Passive Home construction is the ability to modify each project aesthetically. Unlike other forms of sustainable building, such as strawbale homes or shipping containers, professionals can construct Passive Homes using a variety of materials. This style does not limit builders to certain architectural styles. Because supplies can vary, many homeowners choose to add to the overall sustainability of their homes by using post-consumer building materials.

Eco-Friendly

Passive Homes are eco-friendly by design. In Europe, it’s the standard building practice of the future. According to The Resolution of the European Parliament, its implementation will be mandatory in new home construction by all member states in 2021.

The elements of Passive Homes are sustainable by default and do not require relying on alternative energy systems for primary energy. The standard principles are the result of research at the Passive House Institute, and include:

  • Airtight structures
  • Double and triple-insulated windows
  • Continuous insulation
  • Thermal sealing
  • Air quality management

Passive Home design principles do not rely on renewables as a primary source of energy, focusing instead on insulation and passive solar to maximize heat efficiency. They’re also the most affordable way to achieve zero-carbon, resulting in energy savings of up to 90% compared to conventional energy systems.

Passive Building for the Future

Passive Home design incorporates efficient ventilation, heat recovery and super insulation to create a high-quality structure that is not only efficient but also extremely comfortable. A contractor can adapt these buildings to any climate or design preference. While Passive Homes are already a standard — and future mandated — construction in Europe, they’re also becoming more popular in the United States.

Thanks to a U.S. Department of Energy “Building America” Grant, the PassivHaus Institute established new building standards that take into account market and climate variables throughout North America, including comfort and performance.

Any architect or contractor can easily utilize the Passive Home style, and the building standards are available via online distribution. As consumers and developers look towards a more sustainable and eco-friendly future, this style of building should be at the forefront of construction.