Home Remodeling Ideas to Increase Energy Efficiency

Posted on: July 23, 2023

Remodeling to increase your home’s energy efficiency rating makes sense in various ways. Those energy-efficient upgrades can make your home more comfortable, save you money, and turn your property into a more positive asset for your neighborhood. Pursuing a home remodel project also makes sense if you have plans to sell in the near future. Many energy-efficient upgrades offer great returns on investment, allowing you to ask for more whenever you decide to sell.

You can further reap the benefits of those energy-efficient upgrades by securing a high Home Energy Score courtesy of an energy assessment. A favorable Home Energy Score reflects well on your property, and you can use it as another selling point in your negotiations.

There is no downside to pursuing energy-efficient upgrades. With that thought in mind, let’s discuss the different upgrades that are worth getting.

Investing in Energy Efficiency

Careful planning and thorough analysis are critical components of an efficiency-minded home remodeling project. The Department of Energy recommends utilizing a whole-house systems approach to achieve your efficiency-minded remodeling goals.

What does a whole-house systems approach to remodeling entail? In essence, it requires homeowners and contractors to account for all the variables that may affect a home’s energy consumption.

You should go beyond appliances and forms of home damage that are bringing down your property’s efficiency rating. Factors such as the local climate, your property’s location, and its orientation also matter. It is also worth considering how the different elements of your home interact with each other and impact energy usage.

Partner with a contractor who knows your neighborhood well. They can recommend the energy-efficient upgrades that will work best on your property.

We have also detailed some of the most important energy-efficient upgrades below.

Improve Your Sealing and Insulation

Many homeowners are guilty of neglecting their sealing and insulation. Although they have a vague sense of why those elements matter, they still neglect to administer the necessary repairs because they do not realize their importance.

Poor sealing and insulation can compromise your home’s ability to maintain your desired temperature. The cool or warm air produced by your HVAC system will escape faster due to the gaps in your sealing and insulation. You must run your HVAC system longer to compensate for that.

That kind of home dynamic shows how costly poor sealing and insulation can be.

According to the EPA, homeowners who fail to seal and insulate their properties correctly miss out on 11% savings on total energy costs.

Are you okay with letting those savings slip through your fingers? On top of that, ignoring the issues affecting your sealing and insulation puts more strain on your HVAC system. You may need to get a replacement system way earlier than you expected. That new system may also wear down faster due to your home’s existing issues.

Save yourself from that financial sinkhole by upgrading your home’s sealing and insulation.

Upgrade Your Windows

Your old windows can also waste plenty of energy. They can mitigate rapid heat transfer and prevent your household from maintaining your ideal temperature.

There are different ways to make windows more energy-efficient.

For starters, you can replace the windows themselves. Triple-pane windows are excellent insulators. Windows with fiberglass, vinyl, and wood frames also regulate temperature better. Low-emissivity coatings also improve the thermal performance of windows. Those coatings allow homeowners to control the type of heat gain that takes place through their windows.

With the new windows in place, you must tighten up the seals around them. Make sure there are no gaps between the edge of the frame and your walls. Weatherstripping can reinforce your seals and minimize the impact of any emerging leaks. Felt and reinforced vinyl weatherstripping are especially helpful when installed around windows.

Accessories can further improve a window’s thermal performance. Storm windows and thermal curtains are among the accessories you should install to prevent excessive heat transfer.

Update Your Doors

Next, let’s turn our attention to the doors inside your home.

You must adjust your remodeling strategy based on the current condition of your doors. There is no need to replace your old doors if they are still in good condition. Instead of replacing them, you can improve their thermal performance by installing storm door accessories and weatherstripping.

If your old doors are too damaged to benefit from the introduction of a few accessories, you should consider replacing them. Generally speaking, replacing your old fixtures with Energy Star doors will help improve your home’s energy efficiency.

It is also important to look at a door’s solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) and U-factor to evaluate its thermal performance. Doors with lower U-factors manage heat transfer better. Meanwhile, the ideal SHGC should be based on your area’s climate. Fixtures with high SHGC are better in cold areas, and the ones with lower SHGC excel in sunny locales such as San Diego.

Get a New Water Heater

We often point the finger at our HVAC systems when looking for something to blame for our higher energy bills. That blame is not misplaced because those appliances do consume plenty of electricity. However, all of the blame should not fall squarely on them.

Water heater usage also accounts for a sizable chunk of your monthly electric bill. Those appliances comprise roughly 20% of a typical household’s energy consumption.

So, how should you go about upgrading your household’s water heater? If you are still using an old model, your best option is to replace it with a tankless alternative.

Tankless water heaters are preferable to their older counterparts because they do not use electricity constantly. This type of water heater will only activate when you need hot water. In contrast, the older water heaters run constantly to ensure your household has a supply of hot water ready to go.

Furthermore, tankless water heaters are easier to accommodate in your plans. A tankless water heater does not take up a lot of space, so you should have no trouble fitting it into your home.

Pick Up More Efficient Appliances

Certain appliances fit better inside energy-efficient households.

Start by purchasing some new appliances for your kitchen. Refrigerators with fewer automated features are typically more efficient. You will sacrifice some convenience, but the cost savings will be worth it.

Adding a microwave or a toaster oven to your kitchen is also a good idea. You can use those appliances for efficient reheating, and they can even cook certain dishes.

The dishwasher presents another potential area for improvement inside your kitchen. Look for a dishwasher that is ideally sized for your cleaning loads. A big dishwasher will only waste your water and electricity.

Front-load options are the most efficient washers and dryers. Prioritize those models if you are looking to improve your household’s energy and water efficiency.

Looking for the Energy Star label whenever you are shopping for a new appliance is highly recommended. That is the easiest way to tell if you are getting something that will be a positive addition to your household.

Add a Ceiling Fan

Air conditioners are not the only appliances capable of cooling down your home. Consider installing a new ceiling fan if you want more efficient cooling.

Ceiling fans excel at circulating air, thus making them better suited for most households. Instead of using multiple stand fans to ensure everyone in your living room gets cool air, you can turn on one ceiling fan and cover that entire area.

You can also use ceiling fans and air conditioners to create a more efficient household. Run your air conditioner shorter than normal and rely on the circulation provided by the ceiling fan to keep the cool air flowing inside your home.

To ensure your household can accommodate your new ceiling fan, make the necessary adjustments during remodeling to create the space your ceiling fan needs.

Replace Your Light Bulbs

Do not forget to consider the light bulbs inside your home. Those light fixtures can also contribute heavily to your monthly electric bills.

Building more features that can bring natural light into your home will reduce your dependence on light fixtures. Even so, those natural light features are limited in their usefulness. You must still install new light fixtures to improve your home’s efficiency.

LED bulbs are the most efficient fixtures currently available. They also last a long time, so you would not need to worry about the replacement soon after your remodeling project is finished.

Optimize your new LED bulbs by consulting your remodeling contractor. Ask them where the LED bulbs can provide the most illumination so you can maximize their usage.

Use a Smart Thermostat

Adding a smart thermostat to your household is one of the best things you can do to improve its efficiency. With a smart thermostat inside your home, you do not need to constantly fiddle with your HVAC system.

Smart thermostats can learn your schedule and preferences and adjust accordingly. Once the thermostat has learned when your home is empty and full, it can calibrate the temperatures to optimize your energy usage. The best part is you do not sacrifice your comfort for that efficiency.

The investment you make in a smart thermostat will also pay off for a long time. Some smart thermostats receive software updates to continue working better. Thanks to those software updates, even an older smart thermostat can remain a functional part of your household.

Install a New HVAC System

Last but not least, installing a new HVAC system can make your household more efficient. You can choose the best HVAC system for your home by considering some key factors.

Start by choosing an HVAC system with the right size for your household. Your remodeling contractor can help you determine if a particular HVAC system is the right fit from a size standpoint.

After that, you should check if a particular system is ductless or ducted. Ducted HVAC systems are typically less efficient than their ductless counterparts. They are also more susceptible to efficiency issues because damage to your ducts can affect the appliance’s performance.

The Department of Energy also reminds homeowners to check out the energy efficiency ratio (EER) and seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings of HVAC systems. Higher SEER and EER ratings translate to more efficient HVAC operations.

Tax Incentives for Making Your Home More Energy-Efficient

Remodeling to improve your home’s energy efficiency will be good for your long-term financial outlook. The savings on monthly electric bills are the most obvious benefits, but they go beyond them. Thanks to legislation passed not too long ago; homeowners can also claim tax credits for installing energy-efficient upgrades.

According to the IRS, a homeowner can receive an annual tax credit of up to $3,200.

You can put yourself in line to receive a $2,000 tax credit by purchasing qualified biomass boilers, biomass stoves, and heat pumps. The remaining $1,200 tax credit is reserved for specific home improvements and energy property costs.

Note that the $3,200 tax credit is available every year. You can keep adding energy-efficient upgrades to your home and offset their costs by claiming the tax credit. The tax credit is available until 2033, so you have enough time to take advantage of it.

Speak to your remodeling contractor at length to determine which of your desired upgrades qualify for the tax credit. If you are having a tough time choosing between upgrade options, you can use the tax credit as a tiebreaker of sorts.

ECO Minded Solutions

Are you looking for a remodeling contractor in San Diego? If so, please do not hesitate to contact us at ECO Minded Solutions.

We have been remodeling homes in San Diego for a long time. That experience comes in handy in all our projects. It allows us to optimize the efficiency of the different properties we work on based on climate and orientation.

Green building is also in our wheelhouse. We have access to materials that are ideally suited for sustainable building projects. We will also utilize building techniques that optimize your home’s efficiency.

Reach out to us today, and let’s work on creating the most efficient version of your San Diego home!

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