First, it’s a smart idea to get an energy assessment of your home. Here is a great resource for interviewing an auditor before hiring as well as a link to find a certified energy auditor in your state.
This can give you an idea of what improvements you should tackle first. Some improvements are more cost effective than others and will give you a return on your money much faster. But you need to know how your home is using energy to make smart decisions.
Appliances in your home, especially ancient ones, can consume massive amounts of energy. If you have a washer that’s a couple of decades old, for instance, you’re definitely using a lot more water and energy to heat that water than a comparable modern version would use.
Replacing these old appliances with new, energy-efficient models can be a smart move in the long run. Energy Star, which certifies appliances for energy efficiency, has a database of possible rebates for appliances in your area, so don’t miss it here.
A smart thermostat helps get your home to the optimal temperature based on your usage patterns (which it learns) and even the local weather. This keeps your costs as low as possible in a very convenient way. You can also adjust the temperature of your home even when you’re not there.
This is a really smart upgrade because it costs very little but can make a big difference in the comfort of your home while also saving you money. Many local utility companies offer rebates that offset a large part of the purchase price of a smart thermostat.
Did you know that heating water is the second-largest utility expense after heating and cooling your home? So this is a good place to focus if you’re wanting to upgrade the energy efficiency of your home.
Any water heater that’s more than a decade old is likely using way too much energy and could benefit from an upgrade. Tankless water heaters, which produce hot water on demand rather than storing it all the time, are a really smart move if you’re serious about saving energy.
If your home is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, you might need more insulation in your home. (In fact, about half of the homes in the United States are under insulated, so yours could easily be one of them.) Properly installed insulation keeps you more comfortable and reduces noise from the outside. And no surprise—a properly insulated home can really reduce your utility bills.
Here are some good instructions for evaluating the insulation in your home.
In forced-air cooling and heating systems, a network of ducts carries hot and cold air throughout the home. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 20% of that air can escape through leaks in the ductwork. That’s a lot of wasted energy!
Ductwork sealant quickly and easily repairs those leaks.
You may also want to consider insulating your ductwork to further prevent energy loss.
A surprising amount of air can seep through doors and windows that aren’t properly insulated. Just adding weatherstripping or caulking around them can save you a lot of money.
If your windows and doors are beyond caulking and weatherstripping, it might be time to look into replacing them.
If you’re thinking of replacing windows, the new ones do a much better job than the old single-pane ones at not letting hot and cold air escape. Windows with wood or wood-clad frames are the best for insulation—even better than vinyl or aluminum.
A lot of heat is also lost via poorly insulated doors. Commonly energy-efficient doors have a foam insulation core. Steel and fiberglass doors with an Energy Star label are great choices.
This is by far the most expensive upgrade on this list, but there is an awesome federal tax credit you can take advantage of.
The federal government has a tax credit that allows you to take 30% of the cost of your new solar panels off of your taxes. However, that tax credit is going to be reduced after 2019, so now might just be the time.
Curious to know what rebates you have in your local area? Many utility companies offer rebates for energy upgrades. Check out this fantastic, comprehensive database of energy upgrade rebates throughout the country.
Hopefully this gives you some ideas for how you can upgrade the energy efficiency of your home while also scoring some great rebates. Together, we can make a big difference.
“David Honda and his team rocked!! They had great technology that took so much of the pain of home buying away. They were attentive to our specific needs and were on top of our loan process! David was always available, even when he was in Hawaii, and super responsive! Thanks David, Melissa and the team for an easy and great home buying experience.”
- Raymond F.
“This review is about Mark and Darci Richardson from CSMC Mortage in Simi Valley. This team is the BEST! For the past 12 years our home was "underwater" due to the "crash" in 2007, and unable to do anything with the mortgage except pay it. These two kept on top of things and finally the house qualified to REFI. We just completed everything and it closed last week... and they saved us over $900 a month!! That's a huge savings for a couple of senior citizens! We are SO happy now and finally can breathe. Thanks to Mark and Darci and CSMC Mortgage for following through, jumping through all the hoops necessary and helping us out! I can't recommend them more... they are the BEST!!!”
- Shari S.
“Baret Grigorian was amazing!! From start to finish Baret was there to help in every way. I never felt like I had to call him to follow up on my loan transaction and he always kept me informed. He was able to get me great financing rates, a lower payment AND money back! Thank you Baret!! I look forward to working with you again in the future!!”
- Kenny D.
“CSMC Mortgage took great care of us and our home buying needs. Tony was more than we could have ever asked for, he went above and beyond for us and we couldn’t have been more grateful for all his hard work. CSMC Mortgage has a great and friendly staff, I would highly recommend them to anyone looking into buying a home.”
- Jannet A.
“These folks are conscience and easy to work with. The “calm” as the “storm” of home loans rolls through! I would not use anyone else. They make sure ALL your questions are answered, be that what competitors may have offered, or ads you may have heard or seen. What a pleasure to do business with. Thank you team CSMC.”
- Michael G.
“Faye helped me purchase my first home last year. She was very professional and worked very quickly to help me procure financing. She made herself available around my schedule and took the time to explain my options for financing to help me get the lowest rate possible. Would highly recommend her to anyone looking for someone that is professional, highly knowledgeable, polite, and responsive.”
- James Z.
“I had the best experience with CSMC Mortgage. Buying a home is very stressful with all of the paperwork that has to be filled out. Faye was amazing! I have given several people her contact info, who are scared to take the step to homeownership. She took ALL of the stress away for me. I honestly, didn’t have to do much. She accommodated my crazy work schedule and help me get things done in a timely manner. She made me feel so comfortable and at ease. There were no surprises when it was time to sign and pay. I highly recommend her to anyone in need of her services and guidance. I can’t thank her enough.”
- Lisa M.
“With this being my first home purchase, my loan officer was very good at explaining everything to me and helping me with all my needs. Thank you for having such great people in the right place!”
- Cathleen H.