The first question homeowners ask themselves before making any home improvement is, “Will this save me money?”
With each passing day, more homeowners become aware of the environmental threats and look for ways to mitigate them. One way is by renovating their homes or buying energy-efficient appliances.
But what happens when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on renovations or appliances?
Well, the good news is you can budget for energy upgrades. If you’re wondering how to do it, here’s how.
Before you can save money, you have to figure out how to spend it. Creating a budget can help turn your energy efficiency goals into reality. Sit down and assess how you spend your income and what your priorities are.
Could you save money by canceling that expensive gym membership? Is ordering takeout every weekend really necessary? Cut down all the unnecessary expenses and start saving for the home upgrades.
It’s best to start saving for the minor upgrades before you move on to the bigger ones. You can buy a smart thermostat one month, improve the lighting the next month, and replace high-energy appliances the next. Once you start budgeting, you’ll notice that a little goes a long way.
Focus on the Best Upgrades for Energy Efficiency
According to the New York Times, energy efficiency not only offers huge economic benefits, it is a crucial weapon in the war against climate change. If you’re looking to improve your home’s efficiency, ask yourself these two related questions:
- Which upgrades will add the most value to my home?
- Which ones will drastically reduce energy costs?
Simpler upgrades — like installing weather stripping around doors and adding sealant around windows — are inexpensive and can considerably lower heating and cooling costs. However, they do not add a lot of value to a property.
People tend to steer clear of larger upgrades unless they are necessary, but they can significantly increase the value of a home. And since PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing options are now available in some American states, it has become easier for homeowners to pay for large upgrades.
Consider the Budgeting Factors
One important thing you must understand is how your home uses energy. For example, do you spend more money on temperature control than on lighting? Do you have many energy-intensive appliances? How do uncontrollable factors, like cold Minnesota winters, affect your home’s energy use?
A free energy audit is a great first step. It will help you to understand your home’s energy usage and which problem areas you should prioritize to make it more efficient and comfortable. The audit will also help you to know exactly how much you will save when you carry out upgrades.
For instance, depending on your home’s energy use, buying a new HVAC system may be a better investment than replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs.
Work on Getting More Bang for Your Bucks
No question about it, some energy-efficient upgrades have a higher return on investment than others. Determine the ones to invest in by asking yourself these two questions:
- Do I own the building I live in?
- How long do I plan to stay here?
Some items — like large appliances and HVAC systems — have a long payback period, so your budget must account for that. The equipment may also qualify for rebates, tax credits, grants, and loans over the long term.
If you rent your home or plan to move soon, go for low-cost and portable energy-saving upgrades such as faucet aerators or LED light bulbs.
Lastly, when you budget for energy upgrades, don’t just think about the electric bill, also think about your comfort. For instance, a smart thermostat can have a positive impact on both.