Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Green Homes
When you think of energy efficiency for the home, do you think expensive home upgrades? If you are one of the many Americans who avoid making your home energy efficient because of the price tag assigned to it, you will be happy to know that such expenses might not cost as much as you think. In fact, more often than not, you can receive tax breaks and save a hefty chunk on energy bills for becoming more eco-friendly. But how do you know what to upgrade and what to leave for better financial times? Here are the five essential elements to making your home green, while keeping the green in your wallet.
1. Participate In The Energy Efficient Mortgage Program
If you are looking to refinance and use that money to make any energy efficient changes to your home or to buy an energy efficient home, you should start by looking into the Department of Housing and Urban Developments Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) Program. According to the HUD website, this program, helps homebuyers or homeowners save money on utility bills by enabling them to finance the cost of adding energy efficiency features to new or existing housing. The only stipulation is that because the program is government-run, the mortgage has to be insured through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
SEE ALSO: The Essential Guide To An FHA Mortgage
Participants in this program have to pay more for their mortgage because the improvements and the mortgage are rolled together. However, the spending could be worth it. The borrower does not have to qualify for the additional money for the loan and does not have to make a down payment on the extra money. There are a few stipulationsyour improvements can only be made if the total dollar amount of the energy saved is greater than the cost of installationbut such a mortgage is a great way for low to medium income families to be able to make environmentally friendly changes to their household.
2. Upgrade Your Heating And Cooling
One of the biggest energy users in the home is the heating and cooling system. So, one of the easiest ways to save energy is to upgrade this system. By simply sealing air ducts and installing a programmable thermostat, you can exponentially improve your energy efficiency. Thats not all you can do, though. Other ways to improve the energy efficiency of a heating and cooling system include:
- Installing an ENERGY STAR system, which is the top of the line in energy efficient thermostats
- Performing regular maintenance, like cleaning filters, which improves system efficiency and reduces energy use
- Heating and cooling only the portions of the house you use
- Using geothermal heating and cooling by getting a ground source heat pump
- Using fans in the summer to ventilate and cool the home
3. Fix Your Lighting
Today, almost everyone knows about the energy saving qualities of the spring-shaped compact fluorescent light bulbs. What people might not know is that there are tons of other ways to save money on lighting costs. In fact, by simply opening the curtains and blinds to let in some natural lighting during the day, you can save bundles on your energy efficiency by the year. Other ways to save include installing ENERGY STAR approved lights and using lighting controls, like motion sensors and smart home lighting systems (which can turn off when you leave the house).
4. Add More Insulation
One of the most important ways to save on energy is insulation. If your home is properly insulated, it will be easier to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Properly installed insulation goes hand-in-hand with getting a programmable thermostat because it will keep the heat or cool air inside your home. Even insulating your water heater and pipes can save you money on electricity bills. Prices vary based on region and type of insulation, but an insulation calculator can help you estimate the overall cost.
SEE ALSO: Going Green Lowers Your Home Insurance
5. Participate In Renewable Energy
What most people think of when they think about making their homes more energy efficient is using renewable energy sources, like solar panels. While these certainly are not the cheapest option, installing a renewable energy source on your home can allow you to be almost completely independent from power companies. You can also buy renewable energy through renewable energy certificates (RECs), which are separate from your current electricity service, but can save you money. Either which way, renewable energy is a fast-growing market, which can save you thousands on energy bills in the long run.
Whether youre building your home from the foundation up or looking to upgrade your current home to something more eco-friendly, using these tips and tricks to make a green home can save you money on energy bills and help the environment as a whole.