If you live in Texas, you probably know the state has a high energy consumption rate. And the more energy you use, the higher your utility bills will be. But, did you know that you can invest in energy-efficient updates that could also increase your home’s value?
This is good news if you’re building or renovating, because energy-efficient updates leads to more equity to tap into, a more comfortable home to live in, and a higher asking price if you decide to sell your home.
“Prioritizing energy-efficient updates throughout your house directly increases its value — outfitting your home with the proper materials keep efficiencies high and utility bills low; these updates help modernize the aesthetics of your home and significantly increase curb appeal,” says Michael DiMartino, SVP of Installations at Power Home Remodeling. “Also, they extend the lifespan of your home’s physical foundation and protect against future structural damage that can be costly and complex to repair.”
By failing to properly insulate the attic, DiMartino says homeowners are literally letting money slip through the cracks. “If an attic has under an R-38 of insulation, it is considered by the building code to be under insulated,” he explains. “This causes heat in your home to rise into the attic, potentially resulting in a host of problems, including ice damming on top of your roof and extreme condensation which can lead to mold.”
This is an avoidable scenario that DiMartino’s company sees often when doing roofing work on various homes. “Homeowners pay close attention to the aesthetics of their home, but oftentimes neglect details like proper insulation, which ends up costing them thousands of dollars,” he explains.
“However, having the proper insulation in your attic helps stabilize the temperature in your home, prevents external transference of air, and prevents further damage from occurring — helping you retain your home’s value for years to come.”
Matt Daigle, CEO and founder of Rise, agrees. “With heating and cooling accounting for 35% to 40% of a home’s energy costs, improving the insulation in your home is a simple and straightforward way to improve your home’s energy efficiency and thermal performance.”
However, it’s not as simple as just running out and grabbing whatever you can find in a home improvement store. “When choosing the type of insulation, consider how much additional R-value you require, where the insulation will be added, and then select insulation that isn’t harmful to your health.”
Another consideration when selecting insulation is the type of environment in which it will be installed. “If you are renovating an older home, the most common areas to add additional insulation are attics, basements, and crawl spaces.”
Up to 30% of your home’s heat loss is a result of your windows, according to the EPA. Upgrading to double or triple pane windows can lower your home’s energy bill.
Daigle explains this is a selling point for buyers. “When purchasing windows, it’s important to consider the U-value, which measures how much heat transfers through the window,” he says. “The lower the U-value, the more efficient the window is.”
However, Daigle admits that this can be a large upfront investment, and you should think carefully if you’re going to sell your home soon. “It may not be worth doing if you plan to list your home, as you probably won’t recoup the entire investment.” It might result in a slight bump in the asking price, but not enough to justify the costs if you won’t be the person who benefits from years of lower energy bills.
If you’re looking for energy-efficient updates that provide quick returns on investment, Daigle recommends a heat pump. “They can supply warm air to your home on cold days, and air conditioning on those hot summer days,” he says. “While heat pumps do require electricity, they can reduce heating costs by 25% to 50% when replacing traditional sources, such as electric furnaces and baseboard heaters.” And that will certainly appeal to buyers.
Natural light is an essential and desirable element in most homes. “Windows, doors, vents and other fenestrations — opening in a building’s exterior — are essential, enabling air and light to flow in and out of our homes,” DiMartino says. But these openings can also provide the type of air transference that result in energy escaping your home and money leaving your pockets.
“It’s important for homeowners to properly outfit their houses with high-quality building materials and appropriate sealants, and regularly check for gaps or cracks in the building’s foundation where air can leak in and out,” he says. And don’t forget about places where vents are installed, such as your dryer or attic.
“When cooling or heating apparatuses are installed, you’re creating a hole and then surrounding that with building material — like siding or stucco — behind that vent,” DiMartino says. “Ensuring you have proper sealing around all those air ducts and vents can help eliminate air from escaping through them.”
Another energy-efficient update is adding shutters to your windows. “Shutters can be considered an asset to your home’s value thanks to their permanent nature,” says Rachel Hyslop, director of channel marketing for Graber Blinds. “Investing in high-quality custom shutters helps to insulate your windows, making them more energy efficient, while adding value to your home with a refined, timeless look.”
Hyslop also recommends solar shades as another option that is convenient and make your home stand out in a crowded market.
“Solar shades enabled with motorized control give your home a high-tech edge over others on the market while helping to diffuse light, minimize glare and reduce heat transfer,” Hyslop says. “The motorization feature allows you to schedule your shades to rise and fall to take advantage of natural light or block out heat.”
Terri Williams is a freelance journalist with bylines at The Economist, USA Today, Yahoo, the Houston Chronicle, and U.S. News & World Report. Connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.