While green home improvement projects like solar panels have cachet, they lack a fast return on investment. If home owners don't envision remaining in their home for 10 or more years, they may never recoup what they put into something like solar panels, even if they get provincial rebates for the panels. So what home improvement projects offer the highest ROI for home owners while increasing the efficiency of the house? Start with these top 5 projects to save money and conserve resources.
1. Insulate and Seal Air Leaks
On average, Calgary area homeowners can reduce their energy costs by 15 percent by insulating attics, basement rim joists, and floors above crawl spaces and by sealing air leaks around windows and doors. Sealing air leaks blocks warm air from seeping outside during winter (and the reverse in summer). As a result, home owners need to use less energy to feel comfortable in their homes—which translates directly to a lower carbon footprint.
This is a good project to commit to before investing in renewable energy. If home owners don't tackle their energy leaks, they'll continue to waste energy whether it's renewable or non-renewable.
2. Switch to LED Lights
While LED lights cost more up-front, they consume much less energy than incandescent and CFL bulbs. They also last a lot longer. Since lighting typically represents 10 percent of utility costs, home owners can see an instant ROI just by spending an afternoon replacing inefficient lightbulbs with LED bulbs.
Canadian provinces may offer lighting rebates that can offset the higher cost of LED bulbs. For example, Saskatchewan residents can purchase discounted Energy Star bulbs twice a year. Home owners can identify lighting rebates using the Natural Resources Canada database.
3. Use Low-Flow Water Fixtures
Cochrane homeowners can curb their water consumption by half—which translates directly to lower water bills and conserves this valuable natural resource—by adopting low-flow fixtures throughout the home. Older toilets can be replaced with dual-flush, low-flow toilets. Faucets and showerheads can be replaced with low-flow models. Since fixtures are inexpensive, this is a budget-friendly fix.
4. Convert to a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats may pay for themselves in the first year, with an average per-year savings of $150.
What's more, programmable thermostats tend to be more accurate than older models. Once programmed, the smart thermostat will come on in the morning for a warm home or Calgary condominium, shut off while the home lies empty all day long, then heat up again for after-work hours. Home owners will be able to figure out the precise setting that's best for home comfort, then know they're only using as much energy as they really need to stay comfortable.
5. Upgrade to a Tankless Water Heater
Energy Star tankless water heaters consume 30 percent less energy than storage tanks, when they're serviced regularly for efficiency. Home owners will enjoy a stream of hot water on demand while paying only to heat the water they use, instead of paying to keep a large tank waiting on standby. Alberta residents enjoy a provincial rebate on tankless water heaters, making this an especially smart pick for Albertans.
Cash savings from these high-ROI energy efficiency upgrades can help home owners save money for high-value projects that cost more upfront and take longer to pay back. By starting small, McKenzie Towne home owners can work up to the projects on their bucket list while reducing their energy consumption in the meantime.