Tax refund season is here, and you may be wondering what to do with all that cash. If you don’t already have it earmarked for a summer getaway or a wardrobe-shopping spree, consider putting that money into home improvements that will actually pay you back — energy efficient upgrades.
While not glamorous, energy efficiency has touched almost every home product on the market, from light bulbs and thermostats to appliances and HVAC systems. Knowing where to start can be a bit overwhelming, so many home efficiency experts recommend getting a home energy audit as a first step.
An energy audit may cost around $300, but it will be money well spent (and lower cost audits may be offered by local utilities from time to time). The auditor can help guide you in selecting appropriate low-cost energy improvements, such as sealing air leaks around windows and doors. Check out the Residential Energy Services Network to find a qualified energy auditor near you.
The important thing to remember is that you don’t necessarily need to install something expensive, like solar energy panels, to reap the benefits of energy savings. Adding insulation, upgrading your thermostat, and switching out old light bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) can offer a reasonably fast payback time that’s reflected in lower utility bills.
Here are some ideas to consider, from least to more expensive:
- Replace most or all light bulbs with CFLs
- Add a water heater blanket
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Replace door sweeps, weather stripping, and caulking around home openings
- Clean out all dryer and other exhaust vents
- Seal leaks throughout all ductwork
- Add insulation to attic and exterior walls
- Install low-flow water fixtures
- Install a high-efficiency water heater
- Replace old windows with energy-efficient ones
- Replace outdated HVAC equipment with a new high-efficiency model
Last but not least, always be sure to schedule yearly or semi-yearly maintenance visits for your water heater and HVAC system. Regular maintenance is absolutely the best way to keep your systems operating at peak efficiency, which will not only save you money in utilities, but also save you money, inconvenience, and frustration in unnecessary repairs or replacement.
Weather Master would be happy to consult with you on the best ways you can spend that tax refund to maximize energy efficiency with heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and plumbing improvements. Contact us today.