Energy efficiency is a hot topic when it comes to home renovations, custom home building and home buying. After all, nobody likes to pay more for utilities than they have to. But as hot as this topic may be, most homeowners still tend to prioritize "pretty" renovations over energy efficient projects. And for a good reason. It's proven that people like to see where their money goes when it comes to home improvement. Rather than upgrade something nobody will ever see, they go for visual improvements like gorgeous kitchens, beautiful bathrooms, lovely living rooms and more. So as a homeowner, how do you decide when to choose energy efficiency over aesthetics? The truth is, you don't have to choose. Energy efficiency and aesthetics can go hand in hand, thanks to today's modern products. There are many additions and upgrades you can make to your next renovation that will not only look stunning but also shrink that next utility bill. And even if additional asks aren't in the budget for your upcoming renovation, don't worry, a renovation will provide some energy-efficient benefits regardless.
Continue reading below for a list of some energy-efficient renovation upgrades and additions you can add to your next project to see a positive impact on your next utility bill.
Solar panels are one of the biggest (and most costly) improvements you can make to any renovation. As you probably already know, solar panels convert UV rays into usable energy in your home and reduce the amount of energy you need to bring in from costly sources. Some areas even offer buyback programs for solar-powered homes that produce more energy than they use! With that being said, solar panels are not a simple addition to a renovation and can eat up a lot of a project’s budget. They can be rather costly (even after rebates) and require additional electrical work. For this reason, we recommend solar panels as their own “renovation” project or something to consider when building a custom home from the ground up.
Windows and Doors
So what can you do if solar panels aren't in the budget? Our first recommendation is to work with your project manager to incorporate energy-efficient windows and doors into your project. These are products that make use of special materials and coatings to reduce the amount of heat loss without affecting the aesthetics. They typically cost only slightly more than average windows and doors. And because most bathrooms, bedrooms, living rooms, basements and kitchens contain at least one window, it's a great way to incorporate energy-saving additions into any renovation project.
One of the most substantial costs on an energy bill comes from resources related to heating, most commonly natural gas. And while this is an undeniable cost associated with the winter months, there are heating add-ons you can add to any room renovation to help cut these costs. In-floor heating is one of those things. Installed, underneath your chosen flooring, in-floor heating is an excellent addition to any room. You can install it under the tile in a bathroom, the hardwood in a kitchen and some cases, even under the carpet in family rooms. Regardless of where you choose to install it though, in-floor heating is one of the best ways to make a room feel warmer without cranking the thermostat. It delivers heat through hot water or electricity and reduces your home's consumption of natural gas. Not to mention, it's relatively inexpensive. Typically, only resulting in the additional cost of the special sub-floor and heating unit to be added to the final budget.
Quite possibly the blandest renovation add-on on our list, upgrading a room's insulation is undeniably one of the best things you can do to improve your home's energy efficiency— especially if you’re living in a century home. But not every insulation is created equal. To maximize your savings, we highly suggest spending a little bit extra to have spray foam insulation installed in your home rather than traditional insulation. Spray foam insulation is not only much safer to install, but it can also cut your yearly energy costs by 30-50 percent! On top of that, spray foam insulation also has improved noise reduction as well as better air and moisture filtration qualities. For a renovation add-on that will never be seen, it makes up for it with its superb saving abilities.
Last but not least on our list of energy-saving renovation add-ons are low-flow fixtures. These faucets, shower heads, and toilets look just as beautiful as their non-energy conscious equivalents, but as you probably guessed, they reduce the amount of water used every time they are flushed or turned on. So not only will they help make your bathroom renovation stunning, but they'll also help make your energy bill even more breathtaking month after month.
Planning a kitchen renovation? Consider adding low-flow faucets to your wish list to enjoy some of the savings too.
The Energy Efficient Benefit of Any Renovation
Any time you hire a professional renovator, you’re guaranteeing that every corner is square and every measurement is precise. This not only means your home will look stunning, but it also affects your home’s energy-efficiency too. How? Well, by stripping a room down to its studs, it allows our team to assess the room and target any voids or problems where heat may be escaping, and pesky drafts may be coming in. Typically, we’re able to fix these problems with basic practices we would have done anyways, and so it doesn’t require any additional spending. So not only will your home look amazing, but it’ll also be working a lot less too— saving you money on repairs and your utility bill.
EnerGuide and Energy Star
To ensure your home is as energy-efficient as possible, we strongly suggest referring to the EnerGuide label or the Energy Star high-efficiency label both found on many energy-using products. These labels are clear indicators that a product will save you as much as possible and make shopping for your renovation simple. Energy Star even goes as far as to provide a list of the most efficient products each year so that you can rest easy knowing you’ve got the absolute best. If you’d like to check it out, .
We get that "pretty" renovations are going to be at the top of your to-do list, but we hope that you now have a better understanding of things you can do to improve your home's energy-efficiency without blowing the budget or compromising the aesthetics of your project. And that's just the start! If you'd like to discuss other energy-efficient upgrades you can make to a renovation or would even like to discuss a future renovation you may have planned, reach out to us by phone, email or even social media. Our team would be more than happy to discuss your project needs with you and help in any way possible.