by Rick Lucas
Making your home as energy efficient as possible will lower your utility bills and add value to your home. In my part of the country the utility company has a monopoly, therefore the customer service is terrible and they act like the mafia. Consequently, every dollar I can keep from sending them gives me a soft warm glow. The good news is that you do not have to do everything at once. Every time you take a step forward you lower your utility bill which puts money in you pocket. I own a home and I would like to share my plan of attack.
Insulation is by far the most cost efficient improvement and an excellent place to start. The U. S. Department of Energy recommends for the mid-Atlantic area insulation should be at least rated at R-38 which is about 12 to 15 inches in your attic. I split the cost of renting the insulation blowing equipment with a friend and we spent a Saturday afternoon insulating our respective homes. For about $300 and a few hours of work I was able to realize an average savings of $20 per month. That $20 may not sound like much but combine that with other cost cutting and it begins to add up to a soft warm glow.
Next, I tackled replacing windows. After some tedious research I found that windows in my area average between $200 and $1000 per unit so be sure to find a reputable company that are reasonably priced. I started with the front of the house and started replacing windows one or two at a time. As I did this my monthly utility bill slowly marched lower. There is that warm glow again! By the time I was finished I had lowered my utility bill by $72 per month. Also, a friend who is an appraiser estimated that I had raised the value of my home by $10,000. I call that motivation.
I now have a conundrum. I am in the process of replacing appliances, furnace, and water heater. The furnace and water heater are old and inefficient so I will replace them and haul them away. My conundrum is should I replace working appliances for newer and more efficient models. I am a great believer in using things until there is nothing left so I am going to do a cost/benefit analysis on each appliance and if it makes financial sense then I will replace them and haul them away. In my opinion it is the best approach.
There are many other little things than can be done to create a more energy efficient home and I will follow up with those projects as I move forward. The ultimate goal is to lower the cost of owning a home and, of course, that soft warm glow.