7 Energy Efficiency Home Improvements and Upgrades for Your New Home

By Josh Crank, June 20, 2018, Energy Efficiency, Home Improvement

Buying a home and personalizing it to your tastes and needs is often an exciting experience. But while you’re picking out paint swatches and considering installing that new kitchen island, remember that some home improvements are more substance than style. While they may seem less exciting now, energy-efficient upgrades can have you jumping for joy when the utility bill arrives.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective energy and money-saving ideas for new homes:

7 Energy Efficiency Home Improvements & Upgrades  | Bounce Energy Blog

1. Add More Insulation

Adding insulation is one of the most cost-effective energy-efficient home improvements there is, as heating and cooling costs account for the biggest slice of the home energy consumption pie. Adding insulation to the attic and basement can be a DIY job, but depending on the condition of the existing insulation, it may also be worthwhile to hire professionals to add more insulation to wall cavities. The Environmental Protection Agency offers an insulation guide with a map of America’s climate zones, so you can better understand what kind of insulation you need.

2. Seal Air Leaks

Hand-in-hand with adding insulation, sealing air leaks is the other key to keeping your HVAC-treated air indoors. Simple tasks like replacing weather stripping on doors and windows and filling cracks and gaps with spray foam insulation will go a long way. Test your door and window seals by placing a dollar between the seal and door or window. If you can pull it out when you close the door or window, it’s time to replace the seals. 

3. Seal Leaky Ductwork

There’s yet another place where your valuable treated air can escape. If you have gaps in your ductwork, some of that air could be leaking into your attic or the cavities in your walls. These leaks can also suck in dust and spread it around your home through your vents. You can use duct tape to seal some leaks in accessible areas, but it can pay off to have a professional seal the entire system.

4. Upgrade the HVAC System

While one of the more expensive upgrades, replacing the HVAC system is inevitable. Air conditioners typically last 10 to 12 years, while furnaces usually last 15 to 20. As they age, they become less efficient. When buying a new home, make sure you know when the HVAC system was installed so that you can plan for timely replacement.

7 Energy Efficiency Home Improvements & Upgrades  | Bounce Energy Blog

5. Install Renewable Energy Equipment

Embracing renewable energy can pay off in more ways than one. Not only can renewable energy technology generate free electricity, you can get a federal tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements of this type. The Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which previously expired in 2016, was renewed under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. Now, through 2021, the list of tax deductible energy saving home improvements includes solar panels, solar water heaters, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps and fuel cell systems.

6. Replace Major Appliances

They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But applying that logic to older household appliances can be an energy efficiency mistake. Used appliances not only lose some of their energy efficiency with age, their modern equivalents may be far more energy-efficient to begin with. To make sure you’re choosing the most efficient replacements possible, look for the ENERGY STAR seal or browse through all the appliances that have earned it on Energy.gov.

7. Install Energy-Efficient Windows

Even if you completely seal off your windows from air leaks, the windows themselves play a large role in your household energy efficiency. Window efficiency ratings are standardized by the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) and are posted on the NFRC labels you’ll see at the point of purchase. Obtain the NFRC label information on your existing windows from the home seller so that you can compare your windows apples-to-apples with new, more energy-efficient designs.

While many of these energy-efficient home improvements will be hidden from sight, the payoff in your energy bills will impress you all the same. Performing these upgrades early in your home owning experience will hopefully give them time to pay for themselves in energy savings.

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