Home renovation projects can pay numerous dividends. Renovations can have a positive effect on resale value, make homes more livable for residents and, in some ways, make homes more affordable.
Renovation projects that aim to conserve energy can save homeowners substantial amounts of money. Such projects don't often require considerable effort or even sizable financial investments, which can make homeowners skeptical as to just how much they can save after completing the project. But the scale of a project may have little to do with how much homeowners will save. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy notes that a relatively effortless task like turning back a thermostat between 7° and 10° F for eight hours per day can save homeowners as much as $83 per year. A more labor-intensive task like planting shade trees saves homeowners an average of between $35 and $119 per year.
When looking for ways to conserve energy around the house and save money, homeowners need not necessarily commit to expensive projects. The DOE notes that the following are some energy-saving projects and details what homeowners can expect to save after completing them. While each individual project may not result in jaw-dropping savings, homeowners who follow many of these recommendations may end up saving more than $1,000 per year.
Project: Install exterior low-e storm windows.
What is it? Low-e windows reflect infrared heat back into a home. Such windows are coated with an ultra-thin layer of metal that improves the window's insulation ability.
How much can I save? Homeowners who install low-e windows can save between 12 and 33 percent on their annual heating and cooling costs.
Project: Seal uncontrolled air leaks.
What is it? Air leaks let cool air in during winter and warm air in during summer. Caulking, sealing and weather stripping all cracks and large openings can cut back on air leaks that are costing you money. The DOE recommends hiring a contractor to seal any leaks on heating and cooling ducts.
How much can I save? Homeowners who seal uncontrolled air leaks can save between 10 and 20 percent on their annual heating and cooling bills.
Project: Plant shade trees.
What is it? If you plant a deciduous tree between six and eight feel tall near your home, it will begin to shade your windows within a year of being planted. Depending on the species of the tree and the home, the shade tree will begin shading the roof within five to 10 years. The DOE notes that shading is the most cost-effective way to reduce air conditioning costs.
How much can I save? Properly planted shade trees can reduce air conditioning costs by anywhere from 15 to 50 percent.
Project: Insulate the water heater tank
What is it? New water tanks are likely already insulated. But homeowners with older hot water tanks can insulate their tanks with a water heater insulating blanket kit.
How much can I save? Insulating a water heater tank can save homeowners as much as 16 percent on their annual water heating bills.
Even the smallest DIY projects can produce big savings. More information about energy-saving home improvement projects can be found at www.energy.gov.