Energy efficient homes are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. Many millennials that are building a home state that they would be willing to pay more on a newly built home in order to incorporate more green features.
What does “energy efficient” even mean when it comes to a home? Simply, it’s a house that uses energy more efficiently. Sounds good, sign me up! It’s not quite that easy …. older homes are especially difficult to make energy efficient, because they may not be sealed tight, they may have old windows, they may be lacking in insulation, and so on.
On newer homes, this is much more attainable and you can think about all of these things when choosing a builder. So, what are the most important components of an energy efficient home?
– Airtight Construction
– Air-Sealing (windows, doors, electrical outlets, vents)
– High Performance or ENERGY STAR windows
– LED or ENERGY STAR lighting
– ENERGY STAR appliances (washer & dryer, refiegerator)
– High-performing or ENERGY STAR equipment (water heater, furnace, air-conditioner)
– Great insulation (basement, attic, walls)
What if you want to take some steps tomorrow to try to make your home a little more efficient? You can take baby steps, and you don’t have to spend a ton of cash.
– Replace your light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs. LEDs and CFLs use anywhere from 25-80% less electricity and last 3-25x longer than regular bulbs
– Integrate smart power strips – it is estimated that 75% of the energy used in a home is consumed when they are switched off, which can cost up to $200 per year. Smart power strips shut off the power to electronics when they are not in use
– Install a smart thermostat – these can be programmed to reduce heating or cooling while you are away from your home. These can also notify you when you need to replace air filters or address HVAC issues that may be affecting the efficiency of your system.
– Energy efficient appliances – When you are looking at new appliances, play close attention to the actual purchase price, as well as the annual operating costs. Energy efficient appliances tend to cost a bit more, but you will save money in operating costs over the years. Be sure to look for the ENERGY STAR label.
– Energy efficient windows – 10-25% of your heating bill may be going out the window, literally. Replace your old windows with double-pane options.
– Upgrade the HVAC system – Heating alone takes up more than 40% of your home energy use. It’s worth a look into energy efficient systems that will save your a significant amount of money over the years.
– Insulation – You should consider having insulation in your attic, floors, walls, basement, and crawlspace to retain heat in the winter and keeping the heat out during the summer.
– Weatherize your home – I remember my old house, standing in the kitchen and watching the curtains blow from the winter winds. No, they were not open! I imagine this would be a big no-no with energy efficiency. 🙂 If you feel the need to wear your winter coat inside during the winter, you may want to look into sealing air leaks, which are common around windows, doors, and vents. Apply caulk or weather stripping to keep your temperature in your home more even and to prevent tossing money out the window.
How do you know if you have an energy efficient home? There is a rating system, called HERS, that is the industry standard by which your home’s efficiency is measured. This is also a nationally known system for for calculating and inspecting your home’s energy performance.
So if you’re thinking about purchasing an older home, possibly remodeling your home, or building a new home, consider the components listed above and how you could incorporate some or all of these things. An energy efficient home will save you money in the long term and will be more comfortable and durable. There are even programs and incentives available for those that are looking to incorporate an energy efficient home into their life.