When it comes to lowering energy expenditures, homeowners do often have to spend money in order to save money. Energy efficiency simply isn't as effective in older homes.
Statistics released by U.S. News and World Report showed that the newer the house, the better its energy savings are likely to be. In fact, when looking at houses built between the 1950s and the early 2000s, every decade corresponded with a decrease in total energy use per square foot.
Of course, buying a new, more energy-efficient home is an option—but for those who are happy with the homes they have, renovations can bring to an older house some of the amenities that make contemporary structures so cost-effective.
Remodeling part or all of your house is a great opportunity to reevaluate your home's energy usage. Luckily, there are plenty of options for those who are designing with an eye toward cutting costs.
Here are 5 tips to get your dream remodel, and improve your home’s energy usage as well.
1. Think big picture.
Often, the most substantial energy savings are the result of a holistic approach rather than simply installing a few new features. The U.S. Department of Energy points out the benefits of a whole-house systems method of energy-conscious renovation. Taking into consideration factors like lighting, climate and total occupancy, as well as the conditions of the house and grounds, homeowners work with designers and builders to develop the best remodeling strategy. The implemented solutions can range from new space and floor heating systems to adding skylights and windows.
2. Use calculators.
There are multiple calculators that can show how your remodeling will impact your home’s energy bottom line. WarmlyYours Radiant Heating provides cost calculators that will show you the daily operating costs for the floor heating system of your choice.
3. Take care of the details.
Before making dramatic changes and additions, homeowners should ensure that they've already executed the energy-saving basics. That means double checking for leaks that let cold air in and sealing them. In another article, U.S. News and World Report noted that attics, basements, doors and windows are common culprits.
While you're in the attic checking for drafts, make sure your topmost floor is insulated, too. The news source pointed out that improper insulation is a more widespread problem than many assume.
"It turns out that about half of the homes in the United States are under-insulated," commented Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan, according to the news source.
4. Don’t let energy leak away.
Under insulation or leaks in ducks lead to higher energy consumption for forced air systems. The energy you pay for literally seeps away of the ducts. In fact, as forced-air heating and cooling ducts carry hot or cold air throughout the home, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that roughly a fifth of this air escapes through leaks. You are paying for heat that never gets to you. Instead, explore other options if you are doing major renovations, especially radiant heating.
“It is more efficient than baseboard heating and usually more efficient than forced-air heating because it eliminates duct losses,” the Department of Energy (DoE) has generally reported of the three types of radiant floor heat—radiant air floors (air is the heat-carrying medium), electric radiant floors, and hot water (hydronic) radiant floors. The two ways electric radiant floors offset the cost of electricity are when they include a significant thermal mass such as a thick concrete floor or the electric utility company offers time-of-use rates.
“Time-of-use rates allow you to ‘charge’ the concrete floor with heat during off-peak hours (approximately 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.). If the floor's thermal mass is large enough, the heat stored in it will keep the house comfortable for eight to 10 hours without any further electrical input, particularly when daytime temperatures are significantly warmer than nighttime temperatures. This saves a considerable number of energy dollars compared to heating at peak electric rates during the day,” the DoE describes. The organization also noted that radiant heating helps inhabitants feel warmer at a lower overall temperature, thereby saving costs.
5. Program in the savings.
You can further take advantage of time-of-use by including a programmable thermostat in your system. Integration of Nest Thermostats or Savant home automation platform are possible with WarmlyYours systems and can help reduce energy costs through programming and automation.
These devices “save about 10 percent on your heating bills and your cooling bills in the summer, so they pay for themselves literally in a matter of months,” says Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. In fact, the Master ROI Table calculates a programmable thermostat will pay for itself in six months and, more importantly, save an estimated $1800 over 10 years. That is an ROI of 156.5 percent. If you are using the thermostat with a radiant floor the predicted ROI is even greater. Radiant heat floors (the site does not specify which kind), save 11,000 over 20 years with a return on investment of 13.8%.
When it comes to energy savings everything counts. That big-picture approach really does work well to comprehensively upgrade your home’s remodel from one you love to one the planet will love as well.
Do you have a great remodeling tip or energy calculator to share? If you were able to achieve energy savings with WarmlyYours’ products in a recent remodel then share your story, send us photos on the WarmlyYours Facebook page, or tweet us at @WarmlyYours.