A major upside of breaking down old walls and putting up new ones is the opportunity to build something better — something more current, something stronger and most of all something more energy efficient. Big or small, any home improvement project can incorporate energy saving measures.
If a remodel is in your future, look no further to find some energy-friendly ideas for everything from a kitchen update to a bathroom overhaul.
Energy saving projects during remodels should begin with a survey of the energy-gobbling heavyweights: appliances, HVAC systems and, believe it or not, plumbing.
Anyone outlining a budget for kitchen improvements, for example, will undoubtedly run across the conundrum “Appliances: to replace or not to replace.”
Well, here is some food for thought: New energy efficient appliances could make a huge dent in the utility bills. Try to track down the energy usage data for your current appliances (if it doesn’t exist, your appliances are probably due for a replacement). Compare the data to what is currently available and evaluate upfront cost versus energy saving returns.
Heating, Ventilation and Air Condition (HVAC)
Any large-scale, tear-down remodel is the perfect time to revisit the HVAC systems of a house. A typical 10-year-old HVAC system is likely due for an energy efficiency upgrade. If the system is on the newer side, clean out the duct work and seal any leaks to help keep it running at peak performance.
Source: Home Depot
At the same time take a closer look at manual ventilation options. If you are repainting a bedroom or texturing a ceiling, it’s a great time to install a ceiling fan. The use of ceiling fans in the summer is a no-brainer for energy savings, but many people may not know that you can also reverse the rotation in the winter to slowly direct warm air back down to human-level.
These days, many homeowners are replacing old wood frame windows with new, vinyl ones. Energy efficient “low-E” windows help conserve energy during the cooling and heating months. Along the same lines, windows that include screens allow cross ventilation during dry summer days. Instead of cranking up the A/C, crack open the window.
During a renovation involving new windows or doors, take care to seal the opening properly. Air leaks are huge sources of heat loss and thus the arch enemy of energy-saving gurus.
Source: Home Depot
A last note for window-related remodels is to finish out the interior of the room with window treatments. Curtains act as energy-saving insulation and solar shading devices when needed.
Inevitably, there will be a time to update that old bathroom with those chipped brass fixtures and clogged shower heads. For any bathroom remodel, invest in energy saving low-flow plumbing fixtures and energy efficient light fixtures. The low-flow shower heads will use much less hot water and keep the water heater from working overtime. If you want to take plumbing efficiency to the next level, take a look at a tankless water heater (each drop of water is heated on demand instead of constantly cycling on and off 24 hours a day).
For exterior remodels, like a new roof, double check for adequate insulation in the attic spaces. If you’re looking to dial up the energy savings even more, a solar water heater is a serious investment but offers some serious energy savings in return. Consult a solar heater expert before installing pricey evacuated tubes or panels to ensure your energy savings will be through the roof!
If you’ve recently tackled some home improvement projects and managed to incorporate some energy saving strategies — Kudos! But don’t forget to stay on top of home maintenance even after the renovation is complete. Even if your house is more energy efficient today than it was yesterday, it still takes some elbow grease to ensure your energy saving measures maintain their potential.
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