Energy efficiency has always been a concern with homeowners, but it’s become even more important in recent years. Fluctuating electricity and gas prices, tighter budgets, and environmental concerns have caused builders, designers and homeowners to put more thought into making homes efficient. It’s good for budgets, and it’s good for the planet.
Naturally, people want to know if there are any straightforward renovations that will bring meaningful gains in terms of energy efficiency. A new kitchen or four season porch might be an exciting prospect, but these probably won’t lower your monthly operating costs and make your home more self-sufficient.
The good news is, there are home renovations that can realistically bring you closer to your efficiency goals. But in order to know what they are in your particular case, it’s good to start with an energy audit. This can be done by professionals who use specialized tools—such as infrared cameras and blower doors—to conduct a detailed assessment of where your home is losing energy. It’s also possible to do this yourself, but it requires careful research and planning.
During the energy audit process, homeowners often learn about the following possibilities:
This might not be a high-tech renovation, but it’s basic and tangible. When hot and cool air leave your home due to poor insulation, more energy is needed to maintain a comfortable temperature. Basic upgrades include more/better insulation in your walls, basement, attic and crawlspaces. Vapor barriers can also be installed to create a better seal against the elements. Drafty windows and doors can be replaced, and upgraded or new roofing can further reduce the amount of energy you use.
HVAC systems have made huge strides in the past decade. Assuming your home is properly insulated, investing in new heating and cooling technology (and even ventilation) can make a long-term difference in your home’s energy efficiency. This may not exactly fall under the category of “home renovation,” but it can be a meaningful investment all the same. A house with the latest HVAC technology is also likely to command a higher market value.
Solar is another thing worth looking into. Depending on where you live, professionally installed solar panels can cut your energy consumption significantly. You might even end up selling extra energy back to the grid.
If you’re planning a major renovation that opens up or adds space to your home, you probably need to re-assess your HVAC system. This can be a good time to discuss energy efficiency upgrades with your home remodeling company, and plan for any updates that need to be carried out in tandem with the original plans.
Energy-efficient renovations are a growing trend for a number of good reasons. They can reduce monthly operating costs, add market value to your home, and bring you greater peace of mind in terms of the environment. But these renovations are still investments, and homeowners are wise to consider them carefully. Detailed consultations with qualified home remodeling specialists can be highly useful, and can help homeowners to zero in on the types of renovations that fit their budgets and help them reach tangible efficiency goals.
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