An energy-efficient home can reduce your utility bills, minimize your carbon footprint, and improve your home's functionality. They can also be a big selling point if you want to downsize. A study conducted by the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) found that 9 out of 10 homebuyers prefer energy-efficient homes and lower energy costs than cheaper homes without these upgrades.
As the world becomes more environmentally conscious and increasingly integrated with technology, creating an energy-efficient home becomes more and more easier to accomplish. We’ll discuss some of the best ways to make your home more energy-efficient below.
Benefits of owning an energy-efficient home
Before getting into what makes a home energy-efficient, let’s discuss why you should consider making your home energy efficient in the first place.
- Lower energy bills: As the cost of energy across the U.S. continues to rise, taking steps to reduce energy consumption can save you money on your monthly electrical bill.
- Increased comfort: Installing energy-efficient appliances and sealing key entry and exit points of your home helps you establish comfortable temperatures year-round.
- Improved indoor air quality: An energy-efficient home helps circulate cool air within your space, promoting a healthier environment for you and your loved ones. This is because energy improvements help reduce the accumulation of moisture, allergens, and dust.
- Better ROI: As mentioned above, more and more buyers are looking to purchase energy-efficient homes. According to Realtor.com, homes with energy-efficient improvements can yield anywhere between a 5%-25% ROI.
How to make your home more energy efficient
Strengthen insulation and air sealants
The first and easiest step to take when making your home more energy-efficient is to seal and insulate key areas.
Install thermal insulation into walls, attics, and basements
Although faulty windows and doors are often blamed for unwanted heat transfer, there are larger structures within the home that are just as guilty. You’d be surprised at how much heat and cool air can escape through your home’s walls, attic, and basement.
While these larger areas may not have direct openings to the outside, they form a part of your home’s most outer layer. By installing thermal insulation onto your home’s walls, attic, and basement, you’ll be adding an extra layer of protection between your home and the outside. This minimizes the amount of heat that can escape during colder seasons and prevents excessive heat absorption during hotter seasons.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling expenses by integrating insulation and air sealing measures. Proper insulation can also help mitigate noise pollution, fostering a peaceful living environment for you and your family.
Use weatherstripping or caulking to seal cracks along windows and doors
Insulation works great for walls but air-tight material works better for windows and doors. Given that these home features are regularly opened and closed, they’re prone to crack every once in a while. Weatherstripping and caulking can help seal cracks and air drafts along window frames that have sustained some wear and tear.
Conducting a thorough inspection for air drafts is a simple, yet important step in making your home more energy-efficient. Depending on how big an air leak is, it might also let in external pollutants, allergens, and moisture. Find and seal any air leaks to keep your home energy-efficient and healthy.
Install energy-efficient windows
Sometimes sealing air leaks isn’t enough. Older homes with outdated windows often let in unwanted heat or cold air through the window glass, not necessarily the window frames. In these cases, sealing the window with caulking or weatherstrips won’t do the trick. Full window replacements are occasionally necessary to make your home more energy-efficient.
An estimated 30% of a home’s heat can be lost in the winter through inefficient windows. By replacing outdated windows with energy-efficient alternatives, you can alleviate the strain on your HVAC system and maintain desirable indoor temperatures throughout the year.
Energy-efficient windows typically range from $300 to $1,000 per window. The cost will ultimately depend on what kind of windows you choose and how many you need to install. Energy-efficient windows help homeowners save about 12% on their energy bills every year.
Use energy-efficient lighting
One of the most efficient and cost-effective methods to improve your home’s energy efficiency is to install energy-efficient lighting. LED light bulbs, in particular, offer significant benefits over traditional incandescent bulbs. LED light bulbs last 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs and consume less electricity while providing an equivalent, if not superior, amount of illumination.
Compared to incandescent bulbs, LED light bulbs utilize about 75% less energy. Additionally, LED bulbs are manufactured using more eco-friendly materials than traditional bulbs. Modern LED lighting is available in a variety of colors, including warm-white tones well-suited for indoors.
Upgrade HVAC and plumbing systems
If you have diligently insulated your home and upgraded to energy-efficient materials but still can’t get your home to an ideal temperature, the issue may be your HVAC system. Consider replacing an older furnace with a high-efficiency furnace. You can also upgrade water heaters, heat pumps, and air conditioners with more modern appliances that better mitigate energy efficiency.
A high-efficiency water heater uses up to 34% less energy for water heating than a traditional water heater. This is because tankless water heaters provide the home with on-demand heat when needed, rather than storing gallons of preheated and unused water, as is typical with traditional water heaters. Forbes estimates the cost of a tankless water heater between $750 and $2,300.
Installing an energy-efficient HVAC system can have a substantial impact on your monthly energy bills. Depending on where your home is located, highly-efficient electric heating and cooling systems can reduce energy usage by nearly 50%. These savings result in an average decrease of 10%-30% in annual utility costs. By consuming less energy, homeowners not only reduce their energy expenses but also leave behind a smaller carbon footprint.
Replace older home appliances with energy-efficient options
Household appliances can be expensive to operate and even more expensive to replace. If you are in the process of renovating your home, or if you notice one of your home appliances on its last legs, you might want to upgrade to an energy-efficient model.
According to BobVilla, these are the most energy-efficient appliances that will save you the most money in 2023.
- GE Profile Stainless-Steel Smart 4-Door French Door Refrigerator
- Whirlpool Monochromatic Stainless-Steel Dishwasher
- Electrolux Titanium Front Load Electric Dryer
- Maytag White Top Load Washing Machine
- LG Electronics Stainless-Steel Top Freezer Refrigerator
Integrate a smart thermostat into your home
Another way to leverage technology when making your home more energy efficient is to integrate a smart thermostat. Smart devices offer a variety of convenient features such as automated lighting, programmable appliances, and even light bulbs that activate upon entering a room. By automating your home’s energy consumption, smart devices allow for appliances to be used only when necessary. Most energy-efficient homes come with some kind of smart device that helps them save energy.
Install solar panels
Installing solar panels is a major home renovation with significant energy-saving benefits. The exact amount of savings will depend on several factors such as current utility rates, the size of your home, weather conditions in your area, and your household energy consumption. However, the long-term benefits of installing solar panels often far outweigh the initial cost.
It’s worth noting that tax credits and incentives can help offset the initial installation costs. In 2022, a federal law was enacted to encourage consumers to adopt clean energy measures, including rooftop solar installation. The Residential Clean Energy Credit enables taxpayers who have installed solar panels (as well as other approved clean energy equipment) to recover 30% of the installation cost through a federal tax credit.
On average, the cost of installing solar panels ranges from $3,500 for more affordable options to $35,000 for more expensive installations, with an average cost of $16,000. If you live in an area with high energy rates and favorable solar conditions it would make sense to install solar panels onto your roof while the 30% tax incentive is still active.
Implement a rainwater collection system
If you want to enhance energy efficiency while promoting sustainable living, a rainwater collection system is an excellent addition to a home. They collect and store rainwater, which you can use for various purposes — from lawn watering to laundry and dishwashing. Rainwater collection tanks help reduce your reliance on energy-intensive water supply systems.
Financing home energy-efficient upgrades
The home improvements required to make your home more energy-efficient can be a huge financial commitment for many homeowners. As a result, you may feel tempted to put off these renovations until you have the funds to move forward with them. Keep in mind that the longer you wait, the more you’ll end up spending in the long run.
Instead of delaying energy-efficient renovations, consider a Home Equity Investment from Point. Point's HEI allows you to access a lump sum of money in exchange for a share of your home's future appreciation. You can pay back the investment anytime within 30 years. There are no monthly payments or restrictions on how you use your funds. Visit Point to learn more.