Does It Pay Off to Make Your Home Energy Efficient?

The rise in environmental consciousness persuades individuals to shrink their carbon footprint. When we think of green living, we may imagine a rural home with a vegetable garden and limited electricity. That may be the case in some instances, but these homes exist even in big cities, and they promote 21st-century lifestyles.

Rather than restricting your use of electronics, air conditioning, and refrigeration, sustainable homes simply increase their energy efficiency to lower their environmental impact. Some individuals are reluctant to invest in eco-friendly alternatives due to high upfront costs. However, it’s vital to consider the long-term benefits.

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    What Is an Energy-Efficient Home?

    Energy-efficient homes combine renewable energy sourcing, airtight construction and low electricity-consuming appliances. This leads to lower utility bills while keeping occupants comfortable. Homeowners may construct an energy-efficient home for various reasons, such as shrinking their carbon footprint, saving money and increasing their home’s value.

    Conventional homes source their electricity from fossil fuel-burning sources. Natural gas generates 40% of all energy for the U.S. Steam and gas turbines burn fossil fuels and generate residential electricity, releasing harmful air pollutants into the environment. Human-induced gas emissions contribute to a form of environmental degradation known as the enhanced greenhouse effect.

    The greenhouse effect is a natural process conducted by the planet to maintain a suitable temperature to support all life. When air pollutants invade the atmosphere, they trap the air’s warmth rather than releasing it into space. Over time, this causes the Earth’s temperature to rise, which harms the global ecosystem.

    Individuals living in energy-efficient homes maintain reasonable inside temperatures, use electricity wisely and install low-energy appliances. These features require a significant upfront cost, but they pay for themselves over time and raise your house’s market value.

    Around 57% of consumers purchase sustainable products over their cheaper counterparts due to an interest in reducing their environmental impact. This also applies to the housing market, proving that the value of energy-efficient homes is increasing. A rise in value along with monthly utility savings makes green homes worth the investment.

    Here are some investments that will make your home more energy-efficient.

    Solar Panels

    Installing solar panels is a direct way to lower your home’s consumption of nonrenewable energy. These devices convert the sun’s energy into residential electricity right from your roof.

    The average cost for solar panels is $14,000, and they save homeowners money on their utility bills. A two-bedroom, two-bath home in Connecticut home can save $150 a month on its electricity costs after installing solar panels, as stated on Google’s Solar Savings Estimator. Over 20 years, that homeowner could save $22,000.

    A common misconception about solar is that customers must pay for the panels right away. Fortunately, that is not the case. There are various loans homeowners can sign up for to pay their investment off over time.

    Solar panel customers can utilize an unsecured personal loan with fixed interest rates to pay off their purchase quickly and affordably. This allows individuals to complete their purchase in two to seven years so they can see energy-saving benefits sooner rather than later. Homeowners can also apply for a home equity loan to face lower rates and extended payment periods.

    The government financially rewards individuals who invest in solar energy. Customers who purchase panels before 2022 can receive a 26% tax credit, increasing their savings. These financial aids allow individuals on a budget to reduce their home’s reliance on air-polluting energy sources. They also help homeowners boost their property’s value.

    Garage Door Insulation

    Your garage door does more than admit your vehicle — it also lets in hot or cold air. If your garage door is inadequately insulated, you may be using a significant amount of energy to regulate temperature. To save money on your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, you must install an adequately insulated garage door.

    The insulation material consists of polystyrene and polyurethane, eco-friendly substances. This creates a barrier between outdoor and indoor air to maintain a suitable temperature for your home.

    HVAC systems account for 54% of a home’s electricity use. If your garage door is inadequately insulated, you could lose up to $2,000 a year. When homeowners increase their insulation, they can save that money and reduce their electricity bills.

    High-Performing Windows

    Windows also allow hot and cool air to enter or exit your home. These thermal holes can increase a homeowner’s energy use by 30% on average. Combat this loss by investing in high-performing windows.

    These windows maintain the indoor climate while allowing the sun’s energy and light to penetrate the panes when needed. Energy-efficient windows consist of glass coatings, spacers, fillings and airtight frames to keep external air out. Although these windows’ installation may be costly, they save the homeowner money on heating, cooling and lighting.

    Air-Sealing

    Gaps or cracks in a home can lead to air leaks. These may occur where warm air rises or near exposed insulation that appears dirty. These leaks allow external air to enter the house and temperature-controlled air to escape.

    Homeowners lose an estimated 11% from unsealed gaps in homes. Air-sealing your house can increase its energy efficiency while saving you 15% on heating and cooling costs. Closing these gaps and cracks are low-cost ways to save money.

    Green Appliances

    Many sustainable home appliances come with Energy Star ratings. These devices help preserve the environment and save users money. The more energy-efficient appliances you have in your home, the more money you will save over time.

    Smart Thermostat

    Smart thermostats automatically control your home’s temperature. Individuals can program them to keep their house at a cost-effective heating or cooling level, depending on the season. The device also detects motion to turn the system off when residents leave to conserve electricity.

    These thermostats turn the temperature down when occupants are sleeping. They may also connect to your phone, so you can turn off the system when you are away for an extended period and turn it on when you come home. Smart thermostats save homeowners 8% on their heating and cooling costs.

    If you pair an energy-efficient thermostat with a renewable power source, you can eliminate your heating and cooling expenses. These savings allow individuals to pay off the initial cost of the system quickly.

    LED Lights

    Around 10% of Americans’ residential energy use derives from lighting. Homeowners can replace their conventional lights with LEDs to increase their house’s efficiency and decrease their utility bills.

    LED bulbs are long-lasting and rely on less electricity than incandescent, fluorescent or halogen varieties. They also provide the same amount of illumination as a traditional bulb. 

    Many individuals opt out of purchasing LED lights because they are more expensive than other versions. However, although their upfront cost may be a few dollars more, they are worth the price because they last 25 times longer. Research shows that lighting a 6-foot tree for 12 hours over 40 days costs $10 with a traditional bulb. Residents may illuminate this same tree with LED lights for 27 cents. When you incorporate LED bulbs throughout your home, the savings quickly accumulate.  

    Solar Water Heater

    Another green technology adopted by energy-efficient homes is solar water heaters. These devices harness the sun’s power to heat residential water tanks. Conventional versions rely on environmentally degrading energy sources, like oil and gas, which emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    On average, 19% of a home’s energy emissions come from the water heater. When homeowners purchase a solar heater, they can save money on their gas or electricity bills. The system’s initial price is between $1,000 and $4,000, and the government offers customers tax credits.

    Solar water heater customers receive a 30% tax credit they can put toward their purchase. These systems can save residents 80% on their water heating bills and reduce their carbon footprint.

    Green Refrigerator

    Have you ever been ridiculed for leaving the refrigerator door open for too long? This is because it takes a significant amount of energy to maintain sufficient temperatures to protect cold food. Energy-efficient refrigerators reduce their reliance on large amounts of electricity to reduce your utility bills and add value to your house.

    Energy Star refrigerators use 15% less energy than traditional devices. They rely on less electricity than a 60-watt lightbulb, maximizing efficiency.

    Smart refrigerators utilize cameras and glass to keep you from opening the doors as often. The inside camera connects to your smartphone so you can see what you have from the grocery store to reduce food waste. These devices are more expensive than traditional refrigerators, but they save you money over time.

    Where to Start

    If you are a homeowner looking to reduce your energy use, you should consult a green energy specialist. Installing a renewable energy system can significantly reduce your electricity bill if you live in a sunny or windy location. If you live in a shaded or windless region, you may want to start by installing energy-efficient appliances.

    Incorporating green technology on your property can save you money, shrink your carbon footprint and increase your home’s value. When you invest in energy-efficient technology, you can experience the benefits both immediately and down the line.

    Author bio
    Rose Morrison writes on home improvement topics and is the managing editor of Renovated. She is especially passionate about helping homeowners find ways to be sustainable in their daily lives. Check out her Twitter to see more of her work.