You’ve spent the past year furnishing your home, selecting hand-crafted decor, and mixing and matching perfectly balanced wall colors. Everything appears perfect. But your utility bills tell a different story about your home. Your heating bill is through the roof and your electric bill never seems to come down no matter how good a job you do of turning off lights in rooms that aren’t occupied. Sound familiar? If it does, you’re not alone.
Of the $2,000 the average American spends paying for energy each year, $200 to $400 could be going to waste from drafts, air leaks, and outdated heating and cooling systems. If you are interested in reducing energy waste you should begin with a home energy evaluation. Also known as an energy audit, an energy evaluation will assess the way that your home consumes energy and identify what measures you can take to improve energy efficiency. From there, you will be able to choose which upgrades you would like to make.
Upgrade Your Windows
The number one way to add value to your home while increasing the energy efficiency of your home is to upgrade your windows to double-pane Energy Star-rated windows. If you are going to make one feature of your home energy efficient you should prioritize your windows according to over 60% of real estate agents.
New energy-efficient windows help maintain a consistent temperature inside your home year-round. This alone can reduce your energy bills by as much as 15%. When it is time for you to sell your home, new Energy Star-rated windows will help you sell your home for a great price. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 89% of home buyers classified Energy Star windows as either an essential or desirable feature. A bonus that comes with installing Energy Star windows is the visual appeal that new windows add to both the interior and exterior of your home.
Insulate the Attic
Most homes have a layer of insulation in the attic, however, over time more insulation may need to be added. Heat loss through the attic is around 25% for most houses. Reducing that heat loss can save you money and create a less drafty home. To save approximately 15% on heating and cooling costs you can add spray foam insulation to your attic. A relatively affordable improvement that costs around $1,000 to $3,600 spray foam insulation recoups the majority of project costs with an average return on investment of 117%.
Upgrade to Energy Star Appliances
Outdated appliances that are over ten years old use up to 40% more energy than newer energy-efficient models. If you plan to upgrade your appliances you can begin in the kitchen. Appliance upgrades that are the most popular are refrigerators, dishwashers, stove/ovens, and microwaves. When you are looking for appliances choose ones that are stainless steel. According to 75% of real estate agents, stainless steel is the most popular finish among home buyers.
Add Solar Panels
When solar panels first became available to homeowners they were extremely expensive. Now, over a decade later the prices of solar panels have fallen by about 70%. On average, solar panels for residential homes cost between $15,000 and $25,000. Though the initial price tag of solar panels is high, so is their addition to your home’s value.
For every $1 reduction in your annual energy cost, your home’s value increases by $20. So not only are you saving on your energy bills you are increasing your home’s value. Solar panel purchases are different in every area and so are the rebates and tax credits that may be available to you.
Upgrade Your Heating and Cooling Unit
In general, 43% of your home’s utility bill goes to heating and cooling. Keep your HVAC working efficiently by properly maintaining the unit and upgrading to a new one when it is time. The average lifespan of an HVAC system is 15 to 20 years. As HVAC ages, especially in the last five to ten years of its life, the system becomes less energy efficient. An older HVAC system will require more maintenance and will need repairs for parts of the system that are no longer functional.
While installing an entirely new HVAC system will take extra money, it will benefit you when you are in your home and when you sell your home. A new HVAC unit with appropriate insulation can cut your energy use for heating and cooling by 20%. Houses with a new HVAC system have a home value increase of approximately 5-10% of the total value of the home.
Invest in a Smart Thermostat
A basic home thermostat will read and adjust the output of heat or cooling to match your desired temperature. If your thermostat is old or malfunctioning it may not read the temperature of your room correctly and wreak havoc on your heating and cooling costs. You can purchase and have a new thermostat installed or you can invest in a smart thermostat. Going a step beyond simply turning on and off your heating and cooling, a smart thermostat comes with remote sensors that are placed in different rooms around your house. These will ensure that your home can stay at a consistent temperature throughout your entire house.
Advanced smart thermostats will monitor your heating and cooling preference and after one week automatically set up a schedule to meet all your personalized needs. A smart thermostat will save homeowners anywhere from 8%-12% annually on their heating and cooling bills. They are also very popular among young homebuyers who are always interested in adding smart technology to their home.
Small changes to your home can have a big impact on your energy consumption and your home’s overall value. Take the time to speak to a local real estate agent who can point you toward the best home improvements that will save you money on your monthly bills and add money to your home’s value.