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Home Energy Efficiency Improvements

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Home Energy Efficiency Improvements: How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

As spring is in full swing, you may be thinking about renovating your home. Whether you are adding to your house or remodeling the interior, it's a great idea to make energy-efficiency improvements before taking on these projects.

Improving your home’s energy efficiency may not sound as exciting as laying down new flooring or turning your basement into a home theater. However, these upgrades can add value to your home and help you save money and energy.

Want to learn more about home energy efficiency projects? In this article, we’ll discuss several ways to make your home more energy-efficient so you can start saving money.  

What Is an Energy-Efficient Home?

Different organizations and companies use the term "energy-efficient home" differently depending on who you ask. You may have heard of terms like zero energy or green homes when learning about house energy efficiency.

For our purposes, we'll relate it to the U.S. Department of Energy's Home Energy Score, which uses a 1-10 scale to rate how energy efficient a house is. Whether you live in a vintage farmhouse or a modern residence in the suburbs, you can raise your home's score through intentional improvements. 

What Energy-Efficiency Improvements Can I Make to My Home?

There are several ways to help your home reach its highest potential Home Energy Score. These projects differ in size, time to completion and cost. The age, style and current construction of your home will determine the type of projects you should take on as well.

Energy Assessment

Before you begin a project, it's an excellent idea to call a certified energy auditor to look through your home for opportunities to help save energy. With the information you’ll receive in a home energy audit, you can start upgrading your home to make it as energy-efficient as possible. As a bonus, your electric cooperative may offer free or reduced-cost audits, plus may offer a rebate for adding energy-efficient improvements to your home.

A home energy auditor will: 

  • Look through your energy bills
  • Inspect your "home envelope," water heater and furnace 
  • Check for phantom energy loads
  • Give you a list of suggestions to improve your home's energy efficiency

Home Energy Efficiency: DIY and Professional Upgrades

Below, we’ve compiled a list of different ways you or a licensed professional can upgrade your house to be more energy-efficient.

DIY and Low-Cost Options

  • Caulking and weatherstripping: You can call a professional to caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows, but you can also achieve these tasks with little prior knowledge. After a home energy audit, you can identify trouble spots that you need to address.
  • Install low-flow showerheads: If your house doesn't have low-flow aerators, replacing them can cost as little as $10. You can search online for how-to videos or instruction guides for replacing them, or you can hire a professional to do the installation.
  • Insulate or wrap your water heater tank: If your water heater tank is warm to the touch, it may be using excess heat. A water heater tank blanket or wrap can help cut off excess heat, making it easier to consume less energy. 

Extensive Projects: Call a Professional

  • Add or replace insulation: Insulation is a critical component of your home envelope. It's one of the foundations of energy efficiency. If an energy audit revealed that you are losing heat through your attic, basement or exterior walls, you should consider contacting a professional to add insulation.
  • Repair or replace ductwork: Your home's ductwork is responsible for keeping your house ventilated and comfortable. If air ducts are worn out or not insulated well, they can leak, causing you to need more energy to keep your home comfortable.
  • Repairing or replacing the HVAC system: Along with your home's duct system, an HVAC system that runs poorly won't reach maximum efficiency. HVAC systems are rated to last around 15 years but can last longer with repairs and maintenance.
  • Installing energy-efficient doors and windows: Doors and windows can cause your home to lose energy as they get older and lose their sealing effect. The best energy-efficient replacement windows and doors can help keep your house air-tight, thus reducing your energy consumption. This renovation not only saves electricity but can also add a new look to the interior and exterior of your home.
  • Energy-efficient landscaping: If you are looking for a project to tackle outside your home, consider energy-efficient landscaping. You can plant and position different types of trees around your home to maximize wind and sun protection.

How Will These Home Energy Efficiency Improvements Save Me Money?

These renovations can help conserve energy and save your family money by eliminating inefficiencies in your home. While many of these ideas may cost money upfront, they will help you save long-term and improve your home's value. However, you may not have to foot the bill alone. There are federal, state and local rebates and tax credits available for you to take advantage of.

What Rebates Can I Use to Save Money on Home Energy Efficiency Projects?

To start, Missouri, Oklahoma and Iowa offer weatherization assistance programs that can help you improve the energy efficiency of your house and reduce your energy consumption. Each state provides assistance if you fall within certain age, income or disability thresholds. 

From April 19-25, Missouri offers the "Show-Me Green Sales Tax Holiday" to help people save on energy-efficient appliances. If you have older machines that you need to replace, this is a great time to spend a little bit less than you usually would.

Finally, check with your local cooperative about other rebates on energy-efficient renovations you are pursuing. Many offer rebates on energy audits, smart thermostats, energy-efficient appliances and more. 

For more information on how to save energy and make your home more energy-efficient, visit our top tips page.

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