One of the latest trends in remodeling today is in increasing the energy efficiency of homes in established neighborhoods. This is being done for two reasons. One, the cost of these improvements can be recouped over time through reduced utility bills and two, more and more they are being perceived as adding value to the property as the cost of energy goes up.
Most of these properties were built when energy was much cheaper and the building codes were less strict than they are today. Lower-efficiency HVAC systems, less insulation and single-pane windows were commonly used to keep the construction cost down. What this means to the homeowner today is higher heating and air conditioning costs. Here are a few things that can be done to significantly reduce your utility bills.
Whack Those Single-Pane Windows!
More conditioned air passes through windows than any other place in the home. Metal-clad, single-pane windows are the main culprit. Simply making a building more airtight can save as much as 20% or more on heating and cooling bills. Replacing single-pane windows with vinyl or wood-clad, double-pane, low-E glass windows will cut energy consumption significantly. This can be a rather significant investment, but it will pay for itself through lower utility bills within 5 to 7 years.
More Insulation, Please!
Most older homes have no more than R-13 levels of insulation in the attic space, when R-30 is the code today. Adding the additional insulation will accomplish two things. It will fill any spots where openings in the sheetrock, like recessed lighting, may be radiating heat into the conditioned space plus, it provides an additional layer of protection from the attic heat. Also, in many cases interior doors, which have very little insulating ability, have been used between the home and the garage in these older homes. Replacing them with a rated exterior door will also provide a more efficiently sealed conditioned air space.
Out With The Old, In With The New!
Unless HVAC equipment is maintained regularly, it loses efficiency and costs more to operate. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, it may need to be replaced. To see how energy efficient your HVAC system is, visit the Energy Star website listed below and input your gas and electric usage into their “Home Energy Yardstick”.
Home Energy Yardstick