Are you looking for ways to upgrade your home with the environment in mind, but worried about the expense? Fortunately, many home improvements are not as costly up front as they used to be, and the return on those investments - both in energy savings and your home's value - is well worth the effort.
Here are five ways to boost your home's energy-efficiency and make a difference for the planet.
1. Choose Energy Star certified products
Have outdated appliances that aren't performing well? For an efficiency upgrade, look for the blue Energy Star label on products ranging from appliances and electronics to lighting and HVAC systems as a simple way to save money and conserve energy, which helps fight climate change. You can even find Energy Star windows, which can make a difference for the comfort of your home as well as lowering overall energy costs. For added value, appliances with the Energy Star "Most Efficient" designation highlights products delivering cutting-edge energy efficiency along with cutting-edge technological innovations.
2. Update your HVAC
Have a professional tune up your HVAC system to ensure peak performance and help prevent future problems. Heating and cooling cost the average homeowner about $875 a year, according to the EPA's Energy Star website. If you're still using a furnace for heat and a separate AC unit for cooling - or worse, an outdated system that relies on fossil fuels - it may be time to upgrade to something more advanced and efficient. Many manufacturers offer a wide range of HVAC systems that provide both heating and cooling in a single unit, without sacrificing energy efficiency. For times of the year like spring and fall where you may be on either end of the temperature spectrum, this type of system that can both heat and cool can be particularly beneficial.
3. Go solar
You've heard about solar for years, but now may be the perfect time to switch to renewable energy. Solar energy can help power your home, saving hundreds of dollars in utility bills while also boosting your home's value and providing peace of mind about helping the environment.
Considering installing solar panels, but don't know where to start? Now you can figure out what your home needs through a digital "solar concierge," which can help you explore technology and financing decisions tailored to your situation. And remember that not all solar panels are created equal; it's best to go with high-efficiency panels from a brand you know and trust.
4. Reduce air leaks and check insulation
Sealing air leaks and adding insulation can help increase comfort and energy efficiency, and may provide up to a 10% savings on your annual energy bills, according to the EPA. Pay special attention to preventing air leaks (with simple foam insulation) when installing your window air conditioner for the summer.
Simple fixes include installing weather-stripping on doors and caulking around windows, while bigger jobs include sealing leaks and adding insulation in your attic. Replacing aging windows and doors that are not energy efficient and that may have cracks or leaks will improve your home's energy efficiency. Another upside? Brand new doors and windows can instantly increase your home's curb appeal.
5. Upgrade your bathroom plumbing fixtures
For older toilets, sinks or showerheads in your bathroom, upgrading to newer models can help save on your water bill, while also wasting a lot less water. Generally, today's bathroom fixtures use less water, which is more eco-friendly. Any improvements or upgrades made to your bathroom can also help boost your home's value.
Don't know what to tackle first? Many energy or utility companies will offer homeowners a free energy audit. An expert comes to your home to determine the worst culprits in reducing your energy efficiency and air leakage around your house. This can help you target your improvements to achieve the best results in the quickest, most cost-effective way. Your home will feel more comfortable, and you'll know you're doing what you can to help the environment.Courtsey of Brandpoint Content