Whether you are building a new home or remodeling your own, making it energy efficient should be on the top of your list. Besides reducing energy costs, it increases the value of your home. Here are some renovations you can do in order to make your home as (energy) efficient as it can be.
Cool steel roofing
A cool roof is the roof designed in a way to reflect more sunlight and absorb much less heat than standard roofs. This is done by using highly reflective paint, tiles or shingles, sheet covering or special reflective pigments for the coating. It has been shown to be around 50 F cooler than traditional shingled roofs in summertime.
One of its biggest benefits is reducing your energy bills since you won’t need to use air conditioning as much during summer months. However, a cool roof also improves indoor comfort in spaces that are not air conditioned, it decreases roof temperature, it downsizes your HVAC system and extends the overall lifetime of your roof.
However, there are some environmental benefits as well such as a reduction in the urban heat island effect and reduction in power plant emissions.
In other worlds, with a cool roof, you get the best of both worlds, and it is a worthy investment.
Solar water heaters
The majority of people simply don’t think about their water heater when seeking ways to reducing their home’s energy usage. However, water heaters and many other options have come to the market in order to provide you with hot water much faster and waste a lot less water because the waiting time for water to heat up is going to be much shorter.
One way to achieve this effect is to move the water heater closer to the fixture, but it is not as practical. A much easier way is to install demand pumps that will drive the hot water along the lines directly to the faucet.
Also, note that on-demand and tankless water heaters are around 25% more efficient than the popular tank varieties, but can be pricey. For best efficiency, go with a gas water heater and look for the Energy star label.
Another thing that is coming onto the market are solar water heaters. You can opt for one with a passive no-pump system, or for the one with active circulative pumps and controls.
Oh, and one last thing: make sure you insulate your water pipes.
By installing solar panels you will literally save thousands of dollars. This means, even though they cost between $10, 000 and $35, 000 – they will still pay for themselves within 5 years, since your savings can go from $20, 000 up to more than $60, 000 over a couple of years.
Besides saving you money, if you live in America, solar panels will help you earn tax credit – which will be the cherry on top of your monthly energy savings when tax season arrives.
Next, with solar panels you are saving the environment – because one single solar system installation is offsetting around 180 tons of carbon dioxide over the period of 30 years, which is equal to planting 10 football fields with trees.
Also, fossil fuels will eventually run out, utility companies may dissolve, but the Sun definitely won’t go anywhere.
But that’s still not it – you can make the most out of your solar panels by also using SMA inverters that will maximize the power point tracking and protect your home against islanding.
Reduce air leaks
Air leaking is a big problem both during summer and winter months. It can add up to 20% of your heating bill. A good idea is to firstly do a blower door test that will help you locate the leaks and determine the required airtightness of your house.
Once you’ve tested it, the first thing you should do is seal the attic before adding more insulation.
Then, insulate all around recessed lights that are sticking up into your uninsulated attic, caulk the tops of window trims, caulk between floor and wallboards before installing new cabinets and flooring, insulate all the openings between window frames, seal around the electric outlets and switch boxes, the gaps above soffits and false ceilings, around all penetrations through ceilings and walls and finally, seal all the wiring, plumbing and exhaust vent penetrations.
Even though these renovations seem like a lot of work, they are definitely worth the effort. And a combination of them will make you need a magnifying glass when the bills arrive to see those funny tiny numbers. Investing into energy efficiency is always a smart idea.