While you’re planning your green remodeling project, direct the majority of your budget toward simple but lasting property upgrades that meet Energy Star guidelines. If you have room left over in your green remodeling renovation budget, then you can invest in major projects you feel passionate about, like solar panels, greywater irrigation, and other eco-friendly updates.
1. Choose Energy-Efficient Insulation
The majority of American homes aren’t insulated properly for their climate—which means you could be losing hundreds of dollars per month on heating and cooling bills. If your house is more than 20 years old, one of the best green remodeling options to consider is upgrading to eco-friendly insulation. Loose-fill insulation made from recycled paper will stop up air leaks and prevent heat from escaping your house in winter.
Live in a cold climate?
Consider devoting some of your green remodeling budget to air sealing, too. In addition to attic air sealing, [insulation] helps prevent the build-up of ice dams during the cold months, according to EnergyStar
Want to learn how to heat- and cold-proof your home? Start here for more eco-friendly insulation ideas.
2. Upgrade HVACs and Heat Pumps
Without the proper HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system, even small homes can become inefficient quickly. If your current HVAC system is more than 10 years old, consider designating some of your green remodeling budget to an upgrade. Not only can you save anywhere from 30 to 40 percent on your yearly heating bill with an Energy Star-recommended HVAC system, but you can also rest assured knowing that your home is more eco-friendly than ever.
Expecting a tough winter?
Don’t discount investing in a new heat pump. Today’s versions are more energy-efficient than their predecessors, and they work well even in colder climates. “Even at 5 degrees, these technologies will still produce two to three units of heat for every one unit of electricity they use,” explained Andy Belden, the senior director of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, to The Boston Globe. “[They’re] still highly efficient, even at some of the lowest temperatures we see in New England.”
Not sure where to start when it comes to upgrading your outdated HVAC system? Learn how one Ygrene customer went from an ancient evaporative cooler to an efficient mini-split system—and saved big on energy costs—here.
3. Install Energy Star-Certified Windows
If you have an older home with single-pane glass windows, it’s time to divert your green remodeling budget to updating your home’s windows. Energy Star-certified insulated glass panels can save you as much as $400 per year if you live in a cold climate. But it’s a smart update even if you depend on A/C to keep cool in the summer—insulated windows help keep cool air in, too.
Replacing all the windows in your home can be expensive, especially if your green remodeling plan includes pricier building materials for window frames. Homeowners should expect to pay anywhere between $450 to $1,000 per window. While it may take some years before you start recouping costs in energy savings, you can expect the savings in your first one to two years to equal the amount of a single window upgrade.
4. Update Your Appliances
No matter how ambitious your green remodeling plans might be, one of the single best strategies for making your home more energy efficient is to upgrade your appliances, says the DOE. According to David Webber, a green architect based in Austin, Texas, it’s often worth updating energy-efficient necessities, such as appliances, first.
Newer washing machine and dishwasher models often have eco-friendly settings that use less water. Energy Star-certified air conditioners are 20 percent more efficient today than they were in 2001, while water boilers more than 15 years old could be up to 15 percent more inefficient than their modern-day replacements. Likewise, an energy-efficient refrigerator could save you as much as 15 percent on your utility costs.
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