You may think upgrading for home energy efficiency is a huge, costly undertaking and can only be done on newer houses. But in reality, you can easily make any house more energy-efficient, whether it’s a big fixer-upper or a pint-sized studio.
Even small tweaks may make a big difference to your monthly energy bill and your carbon footprint. In fact, according to the National Association of Realtors, homeowners could get a credit for as much as $500 on their tax return for making energy-efficient upgrades to their home. Here are six easy ways to improve your home energy efficiency, help the environment and even put some money back in your pocket.
1. Get an Energy Audit
Before you start your energy-efficient overhaul, you’ll want to see how much energy you’re actually using and what sources are using the most juice. After all, what’s the point of replacing your slightly outdated water heater if it’s not the biggest offender? A certified energy auditor can evaluate the usage and efficiency of all of your home’s major vents and appliances and provide suggestions on how to use them more efficiently. They can also make recommendations for new appliances, should you need an upgrade. To get started, check out the Residential Energy Services Network to find the right auditor for you.
2. Switch to a Smart Thermostat
Heating and cooling systems that work overtime when they’re not needed can add up to big energy costs. Ideally, you’d turn them off at certain times of day when temperatures naturally rise or fall, when you’re away at work or on vacation and in any rooms that aren’t being used. But since you have more to do than fiddle with your air conditioner all day, a smart thermostat can program your heating and cooling systems to turn on and off when and where you want them to, even when you’re not home.
3. Replace Incandescent Lightbulbs With LEDs
LED lightbulbs have come a long way from their early blue-tinted iterations, and there are many versions that are just as warm — and far more energy-efficient — than their incandescent counterparts. According to Energy.gov, LED bulbs typically can use about 25 to 80 percent less energy than incandescents. Now you really have no excuse to not jump on the LED bandwagon. Yes, they’re an up-front investment, but given the boost in efficiency, they can mean big savings on your electric bill.
4. Upgrade to Energy Star Appliances
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, a home’s appliances account for 20 to 30 percent of energy used, and Energy Star appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard appliances. That’s a good deal, for sure. But there’s no need to replace them all at once — once you have an energy audit, you’ll also know which appliances need to be swapped out more than others, so you can space out your Energy Star upgrades over time and according to your budget.
5. Try Low-Flow Shower Heads
Technically, you don’t need all that water to take a shower. Updating your shower head to a low-flow model means you get to control the amount of water you use each time you lather up – plus, they’re pretty affordable and easy to install on your own. According to Energy.gov, you can purchase low-flow shower heads for as little as $10 to $20 and save as much as 25 to 60 percent on water consumption.
6. Go Solar
Because there are federal and tax incentives, solar panels can more than pay for themselves in the long term. Check out this handy tool from Energy.gov to learn about the tax credits, rebates and savings unique to your state. There’s also a federal program that lets homeowners claim a tax credit for 30 percent of all qualified costs associated with installing a solar energy system. Solar is rapidly changing and evolving, so investigate your local options.
What energy-efficient upgrades have made the most difference in your home? Share your favorites in the comments below!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Owners.com, Altisource or any other Altisource® business or entity. The foregoing content is not intended to constitute, and in fact does not constitute, financial, investment, tax or legal advice by the author, Owners.com, Altisource or any other business or entity.
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