10 Energy Efficient Upgrades for Homeowners You Can't Live Without
Energizing Homes with Upgrades That Save Money
Performing home upgrades and tweaking energy consumption behaviors to conserve energy can potentially save homeowners hundreds or even thousands of dollars annually depending on seasonal temperature fluctuations and resources uses to heat and cool a home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simply running air conditions at 78°F (a comfortable temperature when supported by energy upgrades) instead of 72°F may save homeowners as much as 18 percent on energy bills. Also, unplugging computers and other electronics when they aren't being used could save the average family around $75 annually, something easy made even easier with multiple outlet, plug-in strips.
10 Proven Energy Upgrades for Homeowners
In addition to incorporating numerous tweaks into the home, homeowners can rely on these energy efficient upgrades to save money without disrupting family lifestyles:
- Replacing old shower heads and faucet aerators with energy efficient heads and faucets that significantly decrease water usage without affecting water pressure
- Installing window air conditioners on the shadiest side of a home where less sunlight strikes A/C units can potentially save homeowners several hundred dollars a year on summer cooling bills
- Repairing or replacing ill-fitting windows that allow heat or cold to escape through bad seals, rotting frames or windows that were unprofessionally installed. A quick way to check for leaky windows is to close all doors and windows, light a stick of incense and pass the stick around a window's edges. If the smoke gets sucked out or blown, the window may have a leak.
- Replacing older doors with energy efficient doors stops heat or air conditioning from escaping homes, like those in Fairfax. Wood doors that have shrunk and warped over the years often fail to seal a doorway properly, leaving small but measurable gaps in the frame. Energy efficient doors made of fiberglass often don't crack or shrink like wood doors and can provide consistent prevention of energy loss.
- Replacing or repairing damaged roofs may prevent moisture from seeping into a home's interior that could reduce the integrity of walls, doors, windows and foundational components. In addition, since heat molecules are lighter than cold molecules, they tend to keep rising in the atmosphere until a solid object stops them. If a roof has numerous holes and missing shingles, heat molecules continue rising through a faulty roof without anything to stop them. Result—higher heating bills.
- Insulating the attic floor can help keep heat in the lower part of a home. Although homeowners can blow insulation into walls, it may be easier and more affordable to lay about 10 to 12 inches of insulation on an attic floor.
- Going solar. Solar panels harnessing the sun's energy to run an entire household can be an investment that typically pays for itself within a few years. It can also be a great way to avoid brownouts or energy disruptions during inclement weather.
- Installing ceiling fans in larger rooms can reduce A/C and heating costs because ceiling fans can help push warm air down and circulate cooler air efficiently.
- Replacing older furnaces (before 1992) with energy efficient heating systems. Furnaces installed prior to 1992 have an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) rating of only 80 percent. Newer condensing furnaces can offer AFUEs of 90 percent or higher.
- Using programmable thermostats to adjust a home's temperature with smartphones can save money for homeowners who are frequently away. Only turn on heating or cooling appliances when necessary.
Tax Incentives for Home Energy Upgrades
Federal and state governments may also offer tax breaks for homeowners wanting to install energy upgrades to homes. The U.S. Department of Energy provides information about different tax incentives.