Most people are aware of basic energy efficiency improvements, like Energy Star appliances and windows, but here are a few renovations you might not have thought about—improvements that can make a huge difference in those monthly energy bills. Buying, selling, or building, explore these 10 excellent ways to boost your home’s efficiency.
Advanced Framing and Other Architectural Features
Advanced house framing, also known as optimum value engineering, is a specific framing technique wherein a house is constructed using less lumber and waste. Advanced house framing saves energy by using less wood and more insulation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, using advanced framing can lower material costs by $500 to $1,000 for a 1,200- to 2,400-square-foot house. It can also cut labor costs by three to five percent and annual heating and cooling costs by up to five percent.
Cool roofs are designed to reflect sunlight and lower roofing temperatures. Cool roofs are made from a type of reflective material within roofing materials such as tiles, shingles, paint, or other substances. This energy-saving technique is ideal for houses in warm climates where air conditioning costs are high all year round.
Choosing the right exterior door for a home should be a carefully thought-out decision. When you choose a door, you should first consider the doors' energy performance ratings. This score lets you know how well each door does in preserving the energy in your home by trapping heat or cool air inside.
Replacing windows with those manufactured to be energy efficient can save on heating and cooling costs as well.
Skylights are often a feature that enters homeowners' minds when they think of improving their homes' energy efficiency. Skylights have many benefits, both cosmetic and from an energy efficiency standpoint. They immediately improve heating, lighting, and ventilation when thoughtfully installed.
Exterior Paint and Insulation
The color of your home can greatly contribute to the heat inside it. A light exterior will help the home stay cooler, while a darker color will better maintain heat. The location of the home should be a factor in the home's exterior design. If it will be located in a warm climate, a light-colored exterior is ideal. In colder climates, darker exteriors are worth considering.
Insulation is key to maintaining heat in your home. The proper type of insulation, in the right amount, will help trap heat in your home so that you won't pay unnecessary heating costs. Homeowners have a choice in the type of insulation they place in their homes, but some types are specifically designed for certain areas or types of homes.
The right curtains can actually help reduce energy costs in your home. By being specific in your choice of window treatments, you can reduce heat loss or keep cool air inside your home. Many factors determine window treatments' energy efficiency. For example, the type of material and color of the treatment are significant, along with how it opens and closes.
The type of flooring you choose for your home can also save energy and money. Carpet can trap heat and keep your home much warmer during the cold winter months. Rugs can also trap heat in certain areas.
Choosing the right flooring for your home is an inexpensive way to save on climate-control costs, particularly if you think carefully about the flooring you choose to install in your home. Sustainable flooring materials should also be in play, such as bamboo, which makes beautiful wood flooring and grows to maturity in a fraction of the time it takes traditional hardwoods.
Bathroom and Kitchen Gear
When you purchase the appliances and the fixtures for your bathrooms and kitchen, consider each one's Energy Star rating. Buying items with high Energy Star ratings can save you a substantial amount of money each year. You will also want to go low-flow when possible. With water quickly becoming an expensive commodity, especially in western states, adding low-flow faucets will help conserve and provide a selling point for many buyers.
Installing fans throughout your home is an easy way to keep it cool and save money that you would spend on air conditioning. Energy-efficient homes are usually sealed with tight airflow control.
Since an energy-efficient house is tightly sealed, it needs to be ventilated in a controlled manner. Controlled, mechanical ventilation prevents health risks from indoor air pollution, promotes a more comfortable atmosphere, and reduces air moisture infiltration, thus reducing the likelihood of structural damage.
Furnaces, water heaters, clothes dryers, and bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans expel air from the house, making it easier to depressurize an airtight house if all else is ignored. But natural-draft appliances may be back-drafted by exhaust fans.
If tight, controlled airflow is part of your plan, you need to closely monitor and ventilate areas where mechanical items—like furnaces, air conditioners, and water heaters—live so that exhaust is properly managed. Everybody in your house passing out due to a buildup of toxic gas is no laughing matter. It can be a matter of life and death. Don’t play games in this area.