Every homeowner has done a home improvement project, big or small. It is natural to want to make a house a home. There are a couple of questions that come into play during a home improvement project: How will it enhance the overall look of the home, and are the costs worth the effort? Energy efficient improvements are one of the gold mines of home improvement providing reductions in energy bills, increases in home values, and with the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, many provide tax credit options.

Assess Your Home’s Energy Efficiency
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Assessing your home’s energy efficiency, or inefficiency, can be a DIY project. By assessing your home thoroughly, you’ll understand where you are using the most energy and losing efficiency. These preliminary checks will guide your steps to repair or replace anything defunct, deficient, or dated.

Begin your assessment with the biggest factors: heating and cooling. You can check for air duct leaks in your basement or attic. If you own a home from the 70s or 80s, it is possible that your attic doesn’t have insulation. Without insulation, your cooling and heating costs can skyrocket because there is nothing blocking the rest of your home from hot and cold outside temperatures. If these basic checks don’t reveal your issue, find a local and trusted HVAC technician to inspect your house and air conditioning units further. Checking for Air Leaks If your system is in great working condition but you’re still noticing fluctuations in performance, you might have an air leak from the outside to inside of your home. It is estimated that a quarter of energy costs are caused by air leaks. Look for cracks or gaps along the walls. This includes a close look at:
  • Exterior corners
  • Insecurely placed electrical outlets
  • Baseboards and crown molding
  • Air conditioners mounted to the wall or window units
  • Old or missing caulk or weather-stripping
Appliance Efficiency

If your HVAC unit came with the home when you bought it, then it might be time to get up close and personal with it. Check the labels on your air conditioner and furnace. They will be able to tell you the SEER rating, the model, and the serial number. If your HVAC is 15 years old or older, then there are big improvements to be made.

Other parts of your home can be assessed for their energy efficiency. This includes refrigerators, dishwashers, toilets, washers and dryers, windows and ceiling fans. Take a weekend and make a checklist of these appliances. One by one, inspect them and make notes of problem areas. For all of the small things you’ve been meaning to get to, make it the weekend you actually get them completed.

Choosing What to Repair and Replace

In every home, 45-50% of energy costs are driven by heating and cooling. Therefore, reducing and eliminating any efficiency can save you some serious money.

Windows There are several factors that will determine the ROI and potential impact of replacing a window. It’s useful to replace your windows all at once, but replacing larger windows and those that face the sun will have the most significant impact. Also, replacing single-pane windows will result in a higher ROI than replacing double-pane windows that already do their job fairly well. The U.S. Department of Energy has already determined the maximum amount of savings for single- and double-paned windows, and though the lowest annual return on investment is $27, the highest is $465 in some parts of the U.S. After installation, homeowners can get a tax credit of up to 10%.

Energy Star Annual Savings

Insulation

The average home spends about $2,200 on energy a year, and in the South much of that energy goes into keeping the home cool and comfortable during the killer summer months. During that time, your roof and attic are busy trapping that heat in the attic instead of trying to repel the heat. There are many different options for home insulation, with radiant barrier being one of the best. This type of installation can save you up to 40% on your energy costs and repels up to 95% of all radiant transfer heat.

Air Conditioning

Investing in a high SEER rating air conditioner can save you a lot of money, especially if you are cooling your home for 5-7 months straight. First, learn which SEER rating will be best for your home. The higher the rating the most efficient it is and the less of a carbon footprint it leaves behind. Even just updating to the lowest SEER rating can cut your energy costs by 30%.

Air Conditioning SEER Rating

Is it time for you to determine your home’s energy efficiency? Contact a professional today to assess old insulation, windows and HVAC systems today. Sources for energy efficient products and information came from Energy Star and the Department of Energy.