Energy Efficient Home Improvement Guide

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the typical American homeowner pays approximately $2,300 in utility bills per year, $1,400 in electric. Nearly fifty percent of the energy we use is for cooling and heating our houses, and over one-third of it goes into keeping the lights turned on and operating our electronics and appliances.

The home improvement projects below will help with cutting your utility bill costs, and nearly all of them also qualify for tax credits, incentives and rebates if they are completed prior to the end of 2016 to help you upgrade your house for less money.


Home improvement always starts with the right planning.

The payback period, savings and cost will vary depending on the kind of fuel used, your house (condition, construction, age and size), and climate. To help determine which projects are best for your house, consider having an energy audit performed.

Add Insulation And Seal The Exterior

Average cost for a 2,500-square-foot home: $1,700 to $7,000.

Savings: The average single-family house can cut cooling and heating bills by 15% to 35% or around $165 to $390 during the first year (as energy prices rise savings will increase). The more extreme your climate is, the more you’ll save. In addition, when replacing your HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) system, it might be possible to get by with less-expensive, smaller units.

Contractor-installing-insulationThe majority of U.S. houses are so poorly insulated between the exterior walls and the attic that it’s nearly like having a window left open all year-round because they leak so much. If you have a room or rooms in your home that never cool down or warm up enough, or you shiver from draft… you may want to schedule a home energy audit.

However, a few steps you can take on your own, is to caulk and weather strip the windows and doors, replace or add door sweeps, and replace or adjust the locks on your window sashes in order to close whatever gaps may exist there.

The rest of the work should be left up to the professionals. The first priority for most will be the attic; since that’s where most heat enters and escapes from. The basement, if you have one, will be next because of the cold air that’s drawn in by convection. Contractors will locate and seal gaps and holes in the exterior of your house and also add insulation, which will work better when there isn’t air moving around or through it. They can also check the ductwork to make sure it is insulated, sealed and straight (airflow is diminished by bends).

Replace Any Old Windows

Average costs for replacement windows will range from $300-$1,000 each for Energy Star-qualified windows (if the frame needs to be replaced it will be 50% to 100% extra)

window installationSavings: If 10 windows are replaced in a typical house, it would save around $135 during the first year on cooling and heating bills.
The biggest money savings are going to be seen when single-pane windows are replaced because of the upgrade in materials and insulation ability. Or if you’re beginning to notice that your windows are getting cloudy or a foggy look due to condensation. As well as if the inside part of the window glass feels hot in summer and cold in winter. To replace your whole window you may see physical cracks forming in your window frames and take notice if they’re difficult to open and close because their parts have reached a point where they require maintenance.

Windows are certified by Energy Star for four climate tiers within the U.S. It depends on how well the windows insulate as well as block heat that is caused by sunlight. Two panes of glass at least are featured on energy-efficient windows and are separated by spacers that are full or either argon or air. Infrared light is reflected by “low-E” coatings. They keep heat outside during the summer and inside during the winter. Triple-pane windows cost more money, but in extreme climate are the most cost-effective. You also might want them in order to reduce noise.

If the window frames on your house are in good shape, it may be possible to only replace the sashes. However, if they aren’t in good shape, the frames will also need to be replaced.

Installing A Solar-Power System

However, you now have the ability to save up to 100% of your yearly electrical bill; for an average house with an electric water heater and air-conditioning, that is around $1,360.

The more sunshine received by your roof, the higher your electricity cot are, and the more financial incentives that are accessible for you, the greater the return will be on your solar system.

A solar system is comprised of photovoltaic panels, which normally are mounted on your home’s roof, along with an inverter converting the direct current produced by the panels into the alternating current feeding into the electric service panel of your home. Usually solar power systems are connected with the electric grid to provide backup power. In a majority of states, you have the ability to sell back electricity to the grid whenever your system generates more than your needs are. Most certainly you will continue paying a small fee to your utility every month for infrastructure and connection.

When paying up front, 100% of savings can be enjoyed once you recoup the system’s cost. If you system is leased, there will be a monthly payment but you can still save 20% to 30% on your utility bill.