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No matter what time of year it is, you can always make improvements to your home to reduce the amount of energy you use. Melting snow and warmer weather may have you thinking about spring cleaning and home improvement projects. Or cooler weather in the fall may get you considering how to better and more efficiently heat your home.
Stop and consider money-saving green home improvements before you get busy with your toolbox or call your favorite contractor.
What makes your home green?
A green home promotes the health of your family without making a harmful impact on the environment. It features renewable resources, sustainable building practices and is energy efficient.
You can enjoy the benefits of green home improvements and renewable energy technology without spending a lot.
Before you spend resources on home improvements, it is a good idea to take some time to do a thorough home inspection. You can do it yourself or hire a reputable contractor to do it for you. Many firms offer free home inspections and estimates for home repair work.
An energy auditor is a specialist trained to examine how your home utilizes energy. Unlike a home inspection, energy auditors use specialized equipment to determine how energy efficient your home and appliances are.
The inspector will examine your property and provide a comprehensive report detailing the areas that need improvement for maximum results. You can learn more about the benefits gained from getting an energy audit by visiting resnet.us, the Residential Energy Services Network website.
Do you have high heating and cooling costs or rooms that are uncomfortably hot or cold? Is dusting a constant chore and allergies a constant problem? Leaky, dirty duct works may be your problem. Old or inadequate insulation is another common problem area.
Repairing ducting and replacing old fiberglass insulation with environmentally friendly materials will greatly reduce wasted energy use and lower heating and cooling costs right away. If you have a quiet portable air conditioner, then doing simple maintenance tasks like cleaning the filter and making sure its draining properly can keep those costs down.
Clean and Seal Duct Works
Heating and cooling your home eats up nearly half your energy budget and even small increases in efficiency will make a difference. You do not always need to upgrade to a newer system to get better efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, cleaning and sealing leaks in the ducting can improve
HVAC efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Regular cleaning benefits your family in other ways as well. Clean, well-maintained HVAC systems dramatically reduce the dust and airborne allergens inside your home. This keeps your family comfortable and less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma attacks caused by indoor air pollution.
The EPA estimates that ten cents of every dollar you spend on energy is lost due to inadequate or old insulation. Your energy audit will reveal leaks around windows and doors, flashing around chimneys and other areas.
Many of the repairs are simple DIY projects but insulating inside walls may call for a professional. Some eco-friendly insulation options for attics, walls and crawlspaces are recycled cotton and cellulose. Sustainable insulation home improvements qualify for federal and state tax incentives. Improved efficiency and lower heating/cooling costs will save more than the cost of installation over time.
Hot Water Heaters
Older tank type hot water heaters waste energy keeping the water warm all the time. Consider replacing your old unit with new energy efficient tankless hot water heater or a solar hot water heater. On-demand, tankless systems produce hot water with less energy usage and can last much longer than tank type water heaters.
Solar water heaters are available in a wide variety of designs and they cost nothing to operate. The Department of Energy offers a useful site that helps homeowners decide if solar water heating is a good option for their situation.
Tax Credits for Sustainable Energy Home Improvements
Making your home more efficient is save money on energy and a good way to put some extra cash in your pocket at tax time. Federal tax credits pay back up to ten percent of your investment for energy efficient home improvements and many state and municipal governments also offer energy efficient home improvement tax incentives.
The government wants to help you with credits of up to 30 percent of the costs for installing renewable energy systems. Federal tax credits and incentives help offset the cost of installing residential solar, wind and geothermal energy systems. Visit energy.gov/savings/residential-renewable-energy-tax-credit to learn more about the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit.
Put some green into your maintenance and home improvements this year with sustainable, renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Even with a limited home improvement budget, there are improvements that will make your home more energy efficient and cost less to heat and cool.
Even small increases in your home’s efficiency saves money on energy costs immediately and over time the improvements will pay for themselves.