Optimize Project Planning for Whole-Home Efficiency and Savings
Being stuck indoors for several months during the Winter can make us eager to start the new year with a renewed motivation to take on projects that will improve various areas of our lives, including our homes. Any home improvement project - big or small - is an investment. We all want to prioritize the projects that significantly impact efficiency, functionality, and aesthetics for the greatest return on investment. Before you begin to map out your projects for the year, consider these tips from ENERGY STAR to get the most impact and savings.
Plan your Projects from a Whole-Home Perspective
It can be easy to look at home projects as independent tasks. However, it’s important to note that many appliances and systems within your home function interdependently – meaning the condition of one system can influence the performance of another. A good example of this is how the state of your home envelope can affect the performance of your heating and cooling systems. You may be in the market to upgrade your furnace or HVAC. However, if you have a drafty attic and insufficient insulation, your heating and cooling system will have to work much harder to regulate temperatures and keep your home comfortable. It always pays to ensure your attic is well-sealed and insulated before you install a new heating or cooling system. The same goes for replacing old windows if that is within your budget.
To determine what projects and home upgrades you should prioritize this year, it’s a good idea to first go around your property and visually inspect your home. Take note of the age and condition of the various elements – from appliances to other essential items such as your water heater, windows, attic, and heating and cooling system. Examining the condition of your home from a whole-home perspective rather than individual elements that need to be “fixed” will help you prioritize the projects that will have the greatest impact.
Prioritize Upgrades that will have the Biggest Impact
When we think of changes we want to make to our home, we tend to prioritize upgrades that people can see – like painting a room or upgrading an old appliance to a newer model. However, some of the most important upgrades that can improve the efficiency and functionality of your home are often unseen and uninteresting.
Examples of these high-impact upgrades include:
- Ensuring your attic is well-sealed and properly insulated.
- Having an energy-efficient water heater.
- Upgrading your home’s heating and cooling system to more efficient technology.
When it comes to these essential but unseen elements, we are unlikely to think about their performance or condition until something goes wrong. However, by planning our projects from a whole-home perspective and prioritizing impactful upgrades, we can proactively address issues before something breaks down and needs emergency repair or replacement. For example, while you may have been eyeing an attractive washer and dryer set as part of a laundry room makeover, after doing your walk-through, you realize that your water heater is over ten years old and nearing the age of typical replacement. In this case, it would be a better investment to proactively upgrade your old water heater to a newer energy-efficient model – helping you to address potential performance issues and significantly reduce your monthly energy usage.
Stack Incentives to Maximize Savings
If you’re strategic with planning your home projects, you can also capitalize on several incentives to help lower their costs. Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, government incentives are available for a number of ENERGY STAR certified products for the home. Given how these incentives are structured, you may want to plan your upgrades according to strategies that will help you maximize your annual savings. You can refer to the ENERGY STAR Tax Credit webpages for helpful strategies to maximize these savings.
Additionally, many utilities offer rebates for upgrading equipment to efficient ENERGY STAR certified models. Explore the ENERGY STAR Rebate Finder to see what utility rebates are available in your area.