With talk of energy shortages, endangered species, and global warming dominating national headlines, it’s easy to forget that going green with home remodeling is as good for your wallet as it is for the rainforest. Here’s a list of 5 green remodeling projects that are good for the earth and save you cash at the same time.
#1—Install High Efficiency Replacement Windows
If you still think of a window as a single pane of glass that gives you a good view of the neighborhood, it’s time to change your perspective. Modern energy efficient windows can reduce your home energy use by as much as 50% year round, and usually pay for themselves in just a few short years. If new windows are in your future, look for multiple paned windows, low e coatings, insulated frames, and gas fills. And don’t forget that proper installation is just as important as buying quality windows when it comes to achieving high energy efficiency.
#2—Install a High Efficiency Heating System
Depending on the climate, heating your home can account for over 35% of your overall home energy costs. New, high efficiency furnaces and boilers can reduce those costs by as much as half, depending on where you live and how old your current heating system is. Look for units with AFUE ratings of 90 or better, and remember that poor installation can sabotage even the highest efficiency furnace.
#3—Install a High Efficiency Air Conditioner
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, air conditioning accounts for 5% of the total energy use in the U.S., and costs American homeowners $11 billion annually. That said, upgrading to a high efficiency air conditioner can make a big difference when it comes to reducing your monthly utility bills. Energy Star rated units are required to have SEER ratings of 13 or higher, though the highest efficiency models on the market currently have SEER ratings of 20 and higher. As a rule, the higher the SEER rating, the more money you’ll save.
#4—New Kitchen Appliances
Kitchen appliances are a major consumer of energy in your home. Thanks to the federal government’s Energy Star program, however, they’re also one of the easiest ways to improve the overall energy efficiency of your home. An Energy Star dishwasher or refrigerator, for example, can reduce energy use at those appliances by 40% or more, while an Energy Star rated clothes washer can save you over $500 over the life of the appliance!
#5—Insulate, Insulate, Insulate
High efficiency furnaces, air conditioners, and windows are all excellent ways to cut energy costs and save you money, but even the best windows and heating and cooling systems won’t do much if your home’s insulation isn’t up to speed. Leaky windows and doors, and poorly insulated attic spaces, are some of the most common culprits of energy inefficient homes, so those are good places to start. For a more comprehensive evaluation of insulation levels in your home, however, consider bringing in a professional energy auditor to help you identify where you can reap the biggest returns when it comes to upgrading the insulation in your home, and sealing up areas where leaks are costing you money!
Remember, going green is a win-win proposition. Not only does it mean you’re doing everything you can to foster a better world for generations to come, but by making smart decisions on which projects you undertake, it can mean big monthly savings on your utility bills and a fuller bank account to boot.