Energy-Efficient Upgrades: How to Make the Best Investment

Posted by Justin Havre on Friday, June 14th, 2019 at 8:23am.

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.

The Value of Investing in Green Real Estate

What are the benefits of investing in green real estate? Ask real estate investors this question and the answer comes in a minute.

Many investors have now realized the numerous opportunities in green real estate. This is the new venture in the field of real estate. It is the best tool an investor can use to differentiate himself from the many other sellers in the current market. The investment has easier marketability and a better end product, which leads to increased profits.

Green products have now become cheaper, easier to manage, healthier and more cost-effective. Investors are able to calculate their efficiency ratings since they can forecast tangible numbers. These efficiency ratings generate a positive financial income compared to traditional investments.

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 the Lighting In the Home

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.

    Affordability of Energy-Efficient Upgrades

    The problem with going green is the money that needs to be put into the house. Green features are very expensive to add to a home. The best way to go about it is by doing it section by section. Even if you can only make your house a little greener, it will have more market appeal to buyers. Making an investment now will bring you a higher return on your money later. You'll also be able to enjoy the savings on energy as you continue to live in the house.

    Part of the high expense of going green is hiring contractors that are knowledgeable in specific areas. If you are interested in adding solar panels to your house, for instance, you'll have to find specialized trades people for consultations and installments. Usually the price you'll have to pay is very high. You'll have to phone around and get some quotes or ask a real estate agent if he knows any contractors that specialize in these types of additions and renovations.

    This type of work should not be given to a general contractor that has never worked in this specialized field before because the cost of the materials is very high. You won’t want to take the chance of having them damaged due to the inexperience of a contractor.

    Green Real Estate Benefits Everyone in Calgary!

    Calgary is going green and so is real estate. If you're looking for a new property one of the things that you'll need to look at is its energy efficiency. Fuel bills are only going to be going up in the future! You need to jump on the green wave and secure a home that will keep your energy costs down while helping to save the planet.

    There are so many homes that have been converted into energy conserving properties that you'll definitely have a wide selection to choose from. From homes that have just made minor implementations all the way up to homes that have built-in solar panels for heating, green homes are the up and coming thing. If you're looking at properties for investment purposes, you'll usually get more value for the money on the resale the greener your home is.

    When you're out and about looking at homes in Calgary ask your real estate agent about the energy efficiency of the properties you are looking at. This way you'll be able to contribute to the protection of the environment in your own way.

    Invest in Energy-Efficient Upgrades Today

    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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