How Energy Efficiency Can Actually Cost LessNiranjan Kumar
Many people choose energy-efficient appliances and home upgrades as part of their commitment to the environment and sustainable living. But a nice side effect of their ecologically-sound decisions is money savings. Energy-efficient home upgrades are usually more expensive upfront, but what are the long term costs, and do they offset the initial higher investment?
A solar panel home system is a good example of the cost vs. long term benefit question. Solar power systems can be very expensive to purchase and have to be professionally installed. It’s a big initial investment, but much of the investment is made back over time.
How? Your electric bill will be dramatically lower or completely wiped out, depending on how much power your home normally uses. If your electric bill was averaging $300 per month, upgrading to solar power and eliminating your electric bill means you’ll break even in less than three years. Switching to solar power also comes with other financial benefits. The green energy upgrade adds to your home’s value. You’ll reap the rewards as a potential profit when you sell your home.
On a smaller scale, replacing all your home’s light bulbs with energy-efficient LED lights may cost more at the outset, but will save you money over time.
As with the solar panel example, there is more than one cost-related benefit. LED light bulbs use less energy, saving you money over the life of the bulb. In an analysis, the cost of operating a regular lightbulb over 23 years was $201 compared to $38 for an LED bulb.
Other Energy-Efficient Upgrades Worth Making
Not every energy-efficient upgrade costs thousands of dollars. There are other things you can do to reap the benefits of a lower-cost, energy-efficient home. Consider the following ideas to reduce your home’s energy consumption. They’re mid-range in price, but you will likely be reimbursed quickly through utility bill savings.
Upgrading Your Appliances
Depending on the age of your appliances, it may be more cost-effective to switch them out instead of waiting for them to break down. Replacing a 15-year-old refrigerator may cost you some money now, but the newer generations of refrigerators are far more energy-efficient.
When shopping for a replacement, look for an ENERGY STAR-certified version. Manufacturers undergo strict evaluation of the item’s energy consumption for a product to receive the government certification. In some cases, a new refrigerator may come with a rebate, saving you money on the price of the new appliance.
On a smaller scale, if you regularly use the microwave or prepare meals in a slow cooker throughout the week and your small appliance is several years old, there may be a newer and more low-consumption version available. It may be worth the money to donate the old one and upgrade to a more energy-efficient version.
Not sure how to know if an energy-efficient upgrade is worth the investment? You can calculate how much of an impact an upgrade will cost you by easily calculating your home’s monthly energy use. Multiply the old and new appliance or device’s wattage by the number of hours it will run and divide it by 1,000. The number is the daily usage figure. Multiply that by 30 to get an idea of the monthly consumption of the old appliance versus the new one.
Add a Smart Thermostat
Smart, programmable thermostats can better control your heating or air conditioning use to save you money on your utility bills. They’re smart because they can learn your daily habits and preferences and adjust the temperature of your home accordingly. They can also be programmed to run during only certain times of the day. In addition, they’re compatible with a smartphone app, so you can switch your HVAC off from work if you left home in a hurry, or schedule your system to run at a later hour if you’ll be home late.
Change Your Front Door
If your home feels drafty even though you have modern, energy-efficient windows, your front door may be the issue. The front door undergoes a lot of wear and tear. The weatherstripping breaks down over time from the frequent opening and closing of the door. You may be able to add new weatherstripping to seal the door better, but it may not be enough to keep your home more energy-efficient to reduce your energy consumption.
If your front door is older, the whole structure may be the problem. Compared to older, glass-paned doors, modern glass front doors feature double-paned glass to filter out heat and UV rays for better energy savings. And depending on the material of the door, modern doors have insulated cores and heavier-duty weatherstripping to withstand the elements and keep your home’s temperature more even. Changing out your front door is an upfront cost, but it may save you money in the long run.
Think Big Picture
The key to deciding whether energy-efficient upgrades are worth the initial investment is to look at the long-term. You may be able to save some money today but may need to replace the items sooner. Or you may find that focusing on the cheapest price may cost you more in the long run in utility bills.
Consider the big picture and the long term benefits of what you purchase. Have the mindset that quality is more important than quantity. It’s likely that making thoughtful choices using that philosophy will reduce the number of things you’re compelled to buy, and save you money on maintenance and operation in the long run.
Magnolia Potter is a blogger from the majestic Pacific Northwest. Whether writing or travelling her feet or hands are never still, she’s always on the move. Besides writing her guilty pleasures are true crime podcasts and cringe worthy reality TV.