Energy-Efficient Upgrades: How to Make the Best Investment

Posted by Justin Havre on Wednesday, October 10th, 2018 at 3:01pm

5 Cost-Efficient Ways to Improve Home Energy EfficiencyThe price of home upgrades often dictates which improvements homeowners can consider. People may not want to spend a great deal of money on updates that will not provide a fair justification for the homeowners through use, or after the sale of the home. However, the following methods of increasing energy efficiency still have an ideal return-on-investment for the people who have them, and some may even pay for themselves over time.

Assess Structural Efficiency

The efficiency of the systems in a Panorama Hills home can be helped or hindered significantly by the efficiency of the structure itself. What is energy efficiency? An example: many homes have air leaks, particularly surrounding doors and windows, that allow heated or cooled air to pass through the wall with ease. This can force a furnace or air conditioner to keep working to heat or cool, but not as effectively. Sealing air leaks is one simple way to help solve this problem, and improve energy efficiency.

Once all air leaks have been resolved, assessing the amount and condition of home insulation is another useful task. Adding insulation to parts of the home that need it, particularly in the attic, is a relatively inexpensive way to make the home feel more comfortable and even increase its resale value. Putting in more insulation is not usually difficult, and experts can often install different types of insulation on top of what is already there.

Upgrade Appliances

The appliances that generate heat or keep things cool consume quite a bit of energy to make it happen. That makes appliance efficiency the next logical step in creating a more energy efficient home or condo in Calgary. Appliances that tend to use the most energy include:

  • furnaces
  • heat pumps
  • air conditioners
  • water heaters
  • refrigerators
  • washers and dryers

When homeowners are thinking about upgrading their appliances, they should consider purchasing appliances that have met the Energy Star rating. This means that the appliances are certified and proven to use less energy than other models of the same type. These upgrades are some of the best home improvements for value, helping homeowners save money with lower energy use. They can also make a home more appealing to buyers, who are often looking for signs of greater home efficiency.

Improve Lighting

Lighting might not be the largest source of wasted energy throughout the home, but it can certainly be improved. In looking at ways to improve lighting efficiency, homeowners can expect lower costs in two areas. The first area is the purchase of the light bulbs and fixtures, and the second is energy consumption. Fixtures that are designed to work with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs will use a tiny fraction of energy, compared to the traditional incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are built to last for many years, which means that they may justify their purchase even without a consideration of energy usage. Efficient bulbs could use 70-90 percent less energy than other bulbs, which, in conjunction with green energy systems like a home solar panel system, could really add up over a period of years.

Additional Ways to Save

Once people have gone through the larger items on the list of energy efficiency, they may not realize that there are still ways to save energy and money. The average home usually has a number of small appliances that continue to use a little bit of energy all the time. Adding a dozen appliances, plugged in constantly, 365 days a year could translate into a lot of unnecessary expenses for energy. Some appliances even use energy when they are turned off, giving them the name “energy vampire.” Homeowners can often improve their energy efficiency simply by using a power bar, timer, or other device that cuts power to an appliance when it is not in use. These tools may not cost very much, and so they might pay for themselves after only a year or two of use.

Add Insulation to the Home

When people think about energy saving home improvements, it’s easy to skip directly to LED light bulbs and dual-pane windows. However, adding or upgrading insulation can be a great way to reduce heating and cooling costs. There’s a variety of different materials insulation can be made from, and each one has different capabilities measured by its R-value, which grades the material’s resistance to heat. When looking at R-values, the higher it is, the better it insulates. Here are some of the different ones homeowners will encounter while doing their energy efficient home improvements:

  • Cotton: R-3.5-4 per inch. Cotton is a natural material that won’t agitate skin if contact is made, but it’s more expensive than other options.
  • Fiberglass: R-3-4 per inch. Fiberglass is widely available but requires protective clothing during installation, and compressing it will cause it to lose efficiency.
  • Rockwool: R-4-5 per inch. Rockwool is more fire-resistant than other options, but it retains moisture and can cause mold growth if wet.
  • Loose-Fill Fiberglass: R2.2-2.7 per inch. Loose-fill fiberglass is lightweight but because of this, it may lose effectiveness in cold temperatures unless extra insulation is added on top.

    Insulation needs to be property installed in order to do its job, so homeowners who are unsure of the best way to lay install it should be sure to call an expert who can do the job. If insulation isn’t property installed, it can lose up to 50% of its effectiveness, which means a big waste of money for the homeowners.

    Research Financial Incentives

    Decreasing energy consumption is something that everyone can enjoy, since it puts less pressure on the municipal or nationwide supply of energy sources like electricity or natural gas. However, making major improvements to a home's energy efficiency could cost a lot of money, even a significant proportion of a home's value. As a result, there are a number of financial incentives for you if you're wondering how to make your home more energy efficient, whether improving an existing home or building a new one. Natural Resources Canada maintains a list of these incentives, some of which are available by province or city.

    Improving home energy efficiency is a great way to save money year after year. If homeowners target their upgrades to the systems and structures that will give them the greatest benefit, they will appreciate a higher return on the money they spend.

Justin Havre is the top producing REALTOR® with RE/MAX First, Canada's very first RE/MAX brokerage. Calgary real estate is his passion; Justin specializes in Southwest & Northwest Calgary homes for sale. He can be reached at 403.217.0003 or contacted through this site.

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