Why are so many homeowners in the North Shore taking steps to make their homes more energy efficient? Saving energy in your home does a lot more than just help the environment. It can also save you money on utilities and make life more comfortable with high-performance appliances and systems. Homeowners in Massachusetts can also take advantage of financing and tax incentives.
Make the Right Changes
If you’re thinking about updating your home, you want to be sure you only make changes with a good return on investment. You don’t want to spend time and money on updates that don’t benefit you in the long run. So how do you know which changes will actually make a difference and add value to your home?
Your utility bill is a good place to start. Where do you tend to spend the most money each month? Where could you potentially save the most energy. For most Americans, heating and cooling is the biggest source of energy consumption, so let’s start there.
1. Insulate Your Ceiling, Attic & Walls
Good insulation helps keep warm air from leaving your home in the winter and from entering your home in the summer. That means you need less energy to heat or cool your house. Not only is this extremely cost effective, but it can also keep you more comfortable since your home’s temperature will stay more consistent year round.
The key with insulation is to make sure it’s installed properly, which usually means working with a contractor you trust in the North Shore area. You may also consider adding weather stripping to doors and windows to make sure they are properly sealed from the elements outside.
2. Reinforce Your Windows
Windows and skylights can help bring sunlight into your home, lessening the electricity you use with artificial lighting. Unfortunately, windows are also one of the most common ways for heat to escape your home. That means more work for your heating system, especially in many older homes.
The best way to conserve energy may be to replace your old windows with new, energy-efficient ones. You might consider double- or triple- paned windows with vinyl frames, which are better for maintaining the temperature inside.
If your current windows are in pretty good shape, you might be better off improving what’s already there. Here are a few ideas:
Storm windows are windows mounted outside or inside of your main glass windows. They help reduce air movement through your windows.
Caulking can seal air leaks through gaps or cracks less than a quarter-inch wide. You don’t want to put it between components that move, though.
Weatherstripping can seal air leaks around the moveable parts of your windows.
3. Choose Energy Efficient Appliances
Do you have an old refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, or dryer? In general, older appliances are less energy efficient than newer ones. If you’re planning a kitchen remodeling project in the near future, that’s a great time to get new, energy-efficient appliances.
If you’d like to see a difference in your electric bill, look for Energy Star certified models. You might be surprised how much energy you can save. Did you know that the most energy efficient dryers use 20% less energy?
4. Keep Your Water Heater at the Right Temperature
One of the easiest ways to save energy is to turn your hot water heater down to between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The vast majority of households don’t need it to be hotter than that.
Believe it or not, many newer models are actually programmed to turn the temperature back down to 140 if you try to raise it above that level.
You may be tempted to simply use less hot water in your home rather than tinkering with the water heater. But your water heater doesn’t just heat water; it stores it too. So even if you use less hot water, your water heater would still be wasting energy storing extra-hot water 24-7.
5. Use Low-Flow Fixtures
Speaking of your hot water system, low-flow shower heads can save a lot of water, especially if you have a big family or shower every day. Look for a shower head with a flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute or less.
If you’re thinking of refreshing your whole bathroom, why not choose a low-flow toilet and sink faucet too?
6. Get a High Efficiency Heating System
The amount of energy you’ll save with a new heating system depends on your current system. If you currently have a furnace that was installed before 1992, there’s a good chance it wastes quite a bit of the fuel it uses. In that case, a replacement is probably your best bet.
So what kind of heating system should you get? There are many options out there, and the best choice for you really depends on your home and lifestyle. A programmable thermostat is a great choice for people who are out of the house for set periods of time during the week. I recommend talking to an expert about your specific needs.
7. Use LED Light Bulbs
Did you know that the electricity it takes to run a light bulb costs more than the bulb itself? It’s true. Modern LEDs are less expensive than ever before and last for years! Now that’s a good investment!
8. Consider Solar Panels
Now that you’ve got the basics, you might decide to look into other more comprehensive options. Solar panels aren’t right for everyone, but they can save a huge amount in energy costs under the right circumstances.
Solar panels might be right for you if:
You’re planning to stay in your current home for many years. Otherwise, you won’t use the panels long enough to see a return on your investment.
Your roof gets a lot of direct sunlight. If your house is mostly in the shade, the solar panels may not get enough sunlight to generate much energy.
9. Plant Trees
If everything else in your home is pretty energy efficient, trees might not save you much energy, but if your house is not well insulated they can make a real difference! Here’s why:
Deciduous trees (trees that lose their leaves in the winter) will block summer sun that would otherwise heat up your house. In the winter when it’s cold, their bare branches let sunlight through, which helps warm your house. To maximize the effect, plant trees on your home’s west side, where the sun sets.
Ready to Get Started?
If you’re planning a remodeling project in the North Shore area and you’d like to make your home more energy efficient in the process, Godfrey Design-Build can help! Our design-build model allows us to manage every stage of your project from beginning to end. We’d love to go through your options with you.
Contact us today to get started, or call (978) 704-8187 to schedule your free consultation.