Home Improvements with the Biggest Impact on Energy Bills

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Written by Guest | Last Updated February 24th, 2020
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windowsGuest Post by Holly Welles

With the popularity of kitchen and bathroom remodels, more practical renovations often receive less attention. It's true that a home's aesthetic value helps justify a higher asking price at resale, but in the years preceding it, marble countertops are mostly for beauty. They don't recoup their cost until later.

If you're searching for home improvements with immediate value, avoid the standard projects that homeowners often limit themselves to. Instead of investing in changes that will pay off far in the future, remember that renovations to enhance your home's energy efficiency are an excellent alternative.

These renovations are often less expensive than cherry cabinetry or designer faucets, and you'll see savings in your monthly energy bill that you wouldn't enjoy with purely cosmetic investments. We'll detail three of the best improvements for your home, ranging from small adjustments to more involved projects.

Caulking and sealing air leaks

The first improvement on this list doesn't require more than two hours to complete, and you'll see the benefits as soon as you've finished. If your home has air leaks that let drafts into your living space, you should set aside time to caulk and seal them. It's an easy project even without DIY experience.

Follow these steps to locate leaks:

  1. Turn off all combustion appliances, like gas-burning furnaces.
  2. Shut all exterior doors, fireplace flues and windows.
  3. Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside.
  4. Light incense and pass by common leak sites.
  5. When the smoke wavers, mark the area.

After you've marked areas in your home with air leaks, use a caulking gun to seal the gaps. The process is so simple and straightforward, you'll see that you're capable of making these fixes without the help of a professional. And the best news is that it costs only $3 to $30 on average.

HVAC maintenance and repair

Damaged or faulty ductwork is a common energy-waster in many homes. While you might not have the knowledge or experience to assess your system, you can hire a professional to conduct an inspection and find flaws. Unlike with caulking and sealing, you'll likely need assistance for this work.

If you choose to seek professional help for maintenance and repair, sealing ductwork and adjusting your HVAC system can save you up to $412 a year. Among other energy-efficient upgrades, like programmable thermostats and LED light bulbs, it's one of the most effective improvements for reducing your bills.

While this upgrade is appealing, the necessity of maintenance and repair depends on the age and status of your system. It's best to consult a professional for confirmation, but you have other options that will help you tell if an investment is necessary. If you've noticed unusual noises or limited airflow, you should search for repair services in your area.

Energy-efficient windows

Homeowners who have occupied the same property for many years often have trouble with older windows. They're difficult to open and close, causing issues with leaks, drafts, and condensation. Beyond compromising the resident's comfort, the lack of insulation contributes to higher energy costs over time.

Energy-efficient windows remain one of the top renovations for reducing these costs. When you install upgraded windows, you can expect to lower your energy bills by up to 35 percent. New windows also earn back much of their initial cost, and homeowners can recoup up to 74 percent of their investment.

You'll find that energy-efficient windows are also beneficial during resale. With increasing concern over sustainability and environmental protection, potential buyers are searching for properties with eco-friendly features. Upgraded windows are a significant selling point that will attract more attention to your home.

Start planning today

As you calculate your budget, consider some of the improvements listed above. You're not limited to standard renovations like kitchen and bathroom remodels, and though these changes have value, other investments are far more cost-effective. You'll earn substantial savings with a strategic approach.

With this in mind, search and seal air leaks in your home, consult a professional for HVAC maintenance, and look into energy-efficient windows. Any of these solutions will reduce your energy bills, and every one of them is practical. Research your available options and start planning today.

Holly Welles is a home improvement writer and the blogger behind The Estate Update. You can keep up with her weekly articles on making the most of any space, or follow her on Twitter for more highlights.

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