Adapting your home to be more environmentally responsible can be easier than you think, and deliver cost savings to your bottom line
The state of Minnesota has been a leader in evolving residential building codes that integrate environmental concerns with safety requirements. This has led to more efficient, better built homes that have helped the state consistently finish in the top 10 of energy efficiency nationally. The net result is that homes built even a decade ago are markedly different than those built today.
For homes that are a bit older, the responsibility largely falls to individual homeowners to capture these efficiencies. Thankfully technology and retrofit solutions have made incremental and even monumental changes easier to implement than ever before.
A few tips can help you get started:
Work with an Expert
Both Xcel and Centerpoint Energy have programs to not only assess your home’s energy efficiency, but also define a path forward with recommended changes. Depending on which company is your home’s gas service provider, a good first step may be to arrange an audit.
- Centerpoint is currently scheduling free “virtual visits” with their Home Energy Squad
- Xcel charges a nominal fee ranging from $30 - $60 for an in person energy audit
These services will provide an action list and consultation, but the good news is that neither company stops there. Each also offers rebates for clients who take steps to increase efficiency via insulation, appliance upgrades, window replacement and others. So while the long term investment is likely to make sense, there is some near-term cost relief available as well.
Consider Technology Solutions
While a virtual hub running all the major systems of a home is increasingly becoming the norm in higher end new construction, many of the features or a Smart Home can also be implemented as one-offs.
A few of the more common features include:
While some smart thermostats are a win due to flexibility in programming times and zones, higher-end models are now equipped with Artificial Intelligence in order to simply program themselves.
Motion sensor and timed exterior lights can provide added security in an energy responsible way. In addition, hallway lights now have programmable features to automatically activate in a dimmed state when motion is detected.
- Irrigation Systems
Lawn irrigation systems are now wired to be easier to configure and responsive to rain so you’ll no longer have to babysit your schedule.
Seal and Insulate
One easy way to assess the efficiency of your home is through a blower door test. A technician will seal your door with a fan and use monitors to document how your home holds air. This will give you an idea of the impact a fresh round of insulation and sealing will have on utility costs. A posttest completed following any upgrades can also help you quantify the difference.
While replacement windows can make a large difference, sticker-shock following a contractor bid is almost assured. The good news is that new windows offer more than solely a green play.
New windows can improve aesthetics, reduce maintenance and prove much easier to clean. New windows also increase the value of your home so the expense isn’t without a return. If you are on a budget, it may make sense to replace a few problem windows, install solar shades or tinting on others and build a plan to upgrade more over time.
Implement Lower Cost Solutions
Perhaps the best news when looking to “go green” is that most solutions pay for themselves over time. By tackling a few smaller and more cost-conscious solutions now, you can see a reduction in energy costs almost immediately:
- As light bulbs burn out, swap them out with LEDs
- Clean or replace all filters in your home regularly-- dirty filters make appliances work harder
- In summer use blinds, and drapes on the sunny side of your home to reduce strain on your AC
- Consider sealing windows in winter, but open shades to leverage passive solar heat during the day
- Monitor your thermostat as experts say that a one degree change can impact energy usage up to 8%
- Consider recycling your second refrigerator, most providers offer a rebate for old appliances
The Bottom Line
We are all stewards of the environment in which we live. One place we can deliver better outcomes for our planet is through our homes. Thankfully science and technology has made it easier than ever to get started. A few simple changes can really move the needle over time reducing utility costs and overall waste.
If you are interested in making an even bigger change than your current residence allows, there are many options out there. At Zachary Adams and Associates we are here to serve you in finding a home that meets the diverse needs of your family-- be that a downsized residence, an environmentally optimized home or a space nearer work to cut your commute.
Your needs drive every conversation and we are ready to meet you where you are in your search. Contact Zach today to get started.