Whether you’re preparing to sell your home or just looking to lower your carbon footprint, you may be surprised to know these green updates have a low up-front cost and can increase your return on investment.
Seal any cracks around door and window frames with caulk. | Cost: $5
This is a no-brainer. Eliminating cracks will take only a few hours and could pay you dividends. About 30 percent of a home’s energy loss happens at an entryway. If you’re looking to go green, this should be your first step.
Install low-emissivity storm windows. | Cost: about $60 to $200 each
Low-emissivity storm windows reflect light back into the home, helping you save on heating costs. Make sure to choose the right fit for your home, as the types vary greatly depending on the materials and coatings. The US Department of Energy reports that storm windows could be as effective at lowering your energy costs as installing new windows.
Install a programmable thermostat. | Cost: $250 with installation
You could save as much as $180 a year by choosing a thermostat that has the ability to automatically adjust the temperature when you are not at home. Doing so could save about 15 percent on your heating bill annually. Some thermostats also have other energy-saving features, like filter-change reminders. Just make sure you choose a system that is easy to use.
Install ceiling fans. | Cost: $200
Installation cost varies based on existing electrical work. A single fan on high speed generally uses about 50 to 100 watts of power, resulting in about 800 kilowatts per year for a home with four ceiling fans—far less than a central air conditioning system. While fans are not able to actually cool the air, they can relieve you of feeling hot, and using them in lieu of A/C saves a large amount of energy. Just make sure to switch them off when you leave the room.
Plant trees. | Cost: $30 to $50 per tree, varies by type of tree
This tip is especially good for the environment. If you want to save on your energy costs, particularly in the summer, plant trees on the east, west, and northwest sides of your home. This will prevent the sun from coming through your windows and making your A/C work harder. Plant a tree to shade your central air unit, and you may save up to 35 percent on your home’s cooling costs.
Lower the temperature of your water heater to 120°F. | Cost: $0
An average of 15 to 25 percent of a home’s annual heating costs are related to heating the home’s water. This adjustment will take little time, and you will hardly notice a difference—until you look at the heating bill! When implemented, you’ll save up to $400 a year.
Insulate your hot water heater with a blanket |Cost: $30
Especially if you have an older system, this small act could save up to 25 to 45 percent on your annual heating costs. To be most effective, add insulation underneath your water heater to prevent heat loss through the floor. Water heater blankets are inexpensive and effective. Look for one made specifically for your electric water heater.