When it comes to home improvement, energy efficiency is by far one of the hottest topics of discussion, one that's on the lips of owners, renters and real estate agents alike. Simply put, a home markedly depreciates in value unless it's optimized to match the possibilities of today's technology. While some investments require considerable investments in both time and money, others are much more accessible, including the following:
1. Conducting a DIY energy audit
The first step towards home improvement lies in identifying where your property's weak spots lie. In official terms, this is called an energy audit. But rather than paying a third party to prod around your home, you may consider taking matters into your own hands and performing a DIY energy audit. The Internet is stocked with guides and how to do just that in ways that are both easy and safe for your home. Of course, if you feel like such an audit would go beyond your level of expertise, don't hesitate to consult a professional company for a more thorough assessment of the situation.
2. Using energy-efficient lighting sources
Lighting is one of the biggest consumers of energy in any household, particularly during wintertime when the days get shorter, forcing you to keep the light on for the vast majority of a 24-hour cycle. Luckily, technology has come a long way in this regard, currently offering fluorescent light bulbs that are up to 75% more cost-effective than regular ones while also radiating less heat. They also tend to be more expensive than your traditional incandescent light bulbs, but with the added advantage of lasting 10 times longer on average before you have to replace them. Be sure to pay special attention to the color temperature color temperature of a light bulb when picking yours out. Warm, yellow light is more appropriate for a home setting than the harsher white light that's typically used in offices.
3. Revamping old windows
Since they basically allow your home to communicate with the outside world directly, windows tend to impact energy efficiency in a myriad of ways. As a general rule of thumb, aluminum frames allow heat transfer to occur much more easily, making them prime sources for heat loss in a home. Replace them with vinyl frames whenever possible. In addition, opt for multi-pane windows that are great for keeping the cold out and the heat in. In certain situations, tinted windows can also be a great option due to offering an increased level of protection from excessive sunlight.
4. Using appliances more efficiently
While replacing all your old appliances can be quite the investment, unless you're dealing with some truly ancient machines, it isn't all that obligatory. What is, however, is learning how to properly use them so they don't waste unnecessary energy. For the most part, that means only turning them on when you need them, and purchasing fixtures that can help regulate their use. For instance, low-flow fixtures can do wonders for faucets and shower heads, ensuring that you only use as much water as needed. Likewise, employing settings that allow your electronics to go to sleep when they're not being used can lead to vast savings on electricity.
5. Practicing proper insulation
Insulation is not always cheap, but it is an essential aspect of any truly energy-efficient home. Old houses and apartment complexes especially date back to an era that prized environmental safety much less than our modern times. For that reason, taking the time to add insulation to your walls, ceiling and attic can ensure that things are properly sealed, thus preventing cold drafts or air leaks that indirectly contribute to your electricity bill via an over-reliance on artificial heating or cooling measures. Today, even garages can get thefull insulation treatment, thus guaranteeing thermal efficiency for the entire home.
As you can see, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure that your home checks all the boxes for being truly energy-efficient. In addition to the satisfaction of doing what's right, the best part about efficiency is that it also translates into savings on virtually all utility bills. What's more, you may even benefit from a host of tax breaks and incentives, depending on where you live, so be sure to explore all your options thoroughly before making a decision.