Room for Improvement

It’s never been so cool to make your home energy efficient

Growing awareness around climate change is reflected and supported by individuals and families investing in their living spaces. Whether they seek to lower their monthly bills, decrease their carbon footprint or both, houses that are energy efficient are becoming the new standard. Thanks to innovative architects and contractors, along with the global focus on research and innovation in the field, many of the design features employed in new constructions to reflect a holistic mentality can be used to augment existing homes, too.

From the macro to the micro, solutions for achieving energy efficiency come with different price tags and varying return on investments. Homeowners looking to upgrade should consider both what upgrades will save them the most on their energy bill, and also what upgrades will add the most value to the home as they look into the future.

1 – Cool roofs

The standard dark-colored roofs that characterize most contemporary construction attract and store heat, transferring it to the rooms below. Applying a reflective coating to an existing roof is a less-costly solution than a full roof replacement.

Solar panels channel the high levels of sun exposure and turn it into useable energy. Companies like Entergy New Orleans offer resources to homeowners and business owners to keep them informed about the costs, incentives and investment return of solar panels, and they also handle installation for qualified applicants. Resources like these are a great way to navigate the complexities and find the right solution for your location and budget.

2 – Keep the outside air out and the inside air in

Adding or updating insulation will drastically improve the unnecessary fluctuations in temperature that inflate energy bills. For floor upgrades, pay attention to the R-value of materials. R-values, in building and construction, are a standard measure of how well an exposed area resists the conductive flow of heat. The greater the R-value, the better the insulation properties.

A quick fix is to add weather stripping or caulking to existing windows and doors that have been identified as leaky. Using blinds to regulate sun exposure to various rooms is another small tweak that can have a noticeable impact.

Invest in double-paned windows. At the highest end, new windows that have the same appearance as ordinary windows will both add equity to the house and decrease energy use. The initial cost is high; however, this upgrade will drastically increase the home value and can reduce energy costs.

3 – Smart technology

A programmable thermostat automatically keeps the ambient temperature optimal for minimum cost by using it to set the house to a lower temperature when no one is home or while the household is asleep.

Low-flow water technology in bathrooms and kitchens is an excellent investment to save water. Tankless water heaters produce water on demand rather than keeping it hot around the clock, docking a significant chunk off of the energy bill.

Changing light bulbs to LED both inside and out, and using home automation technology to set light timers can help you to avoid higher bills from the common error of forgetting to turn off lights on the way out.