Photo: Hawaii Energy Office


By Associate Editor August 15, 2023 No Comments 16 Min Read

“Transform your home into an energy-saving fortress with strategic upgrades!”


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  • Energy-efficient home improvements can save your energy expenditures dramatically while raising the value of your house.
  • Homeowners typically get a significant return on investment by upgrading to a more efficient HVAC system, increasing insulation, and installing better windows and doors.
  • To ease the burden on the electrical grids, utility companies provide subsidies for energy-efficient projects, thus lowering the home cost.
  • Heat pumps are adaptable HVAC systems that can heat and cool your house, saving you energy and maybe even earning you tax credits.
  • Energy-efficient home improvements raise comfort levels, enhance indoor air quality, and use less energy overall.

The pursuit of energy efficiency has taken on utmost importance in today’s world, when energy consumption is still on the rise and environmental concerns are becoming more and more urgent. The secret is making our houses energy-efficient havens in addition to supporting sustainable practices on a global level. By strategically improving our living quarters, we can save a lot of money, increase our level of comfort, and help the environment.

It’s crucial to know where to start when it comes to energy-efficient home improvements before diving in. To determine the precise patterns of energy usage in our homes, the first stage entails completing a thorough energy review or audit[1]. This examination, sometimes referred to as an energy assessment, enables us to pinpoint problem areas and put forth specialized solutions for optimum effectiveness. The most efficient ways to update our homes may be discovered by specialists by using methods like walk-through inspections, infrared cameras, and blower doors. 

The energy review revealed numerous and extensive opportunities for improvement. Every action we take, from caulking air leaks to installing insulation to modernizing windows and doors, helps make our houses more energy efficient overall. We can dramatically minimize energy consumption and enjoy a more comfortable home environment all year long by plugging air leaks around floors, ceilings, and windows.  Similar to how better attic, crawl space, and external wall insulation help control inside temperatures, leading to significant energy savings and improved comfort throughout the year. 

Energy Assessment for Greater Efficiency

Making our homes more energy-efficient has become a major concern in today’s environment, where sustainability and energy conservation are crucial. Energy-efficient home improvements lessen our effect on the environment and result in significant financial savings and increased comfort. Conducting a thorough energy audit is a vital stage in enhancing energy efficiency. The study, usually called an energy audit or assessment, enables homeowners to pinpoint specific actions they may take to improve the energy efficiency of their houses.

Grasp Energy Evaluation: It’s important to thoroughly grasp how our houses use energy and where possible energy waste could occur before starting any energy-efficient home modifications. Making educated choices regarding the modifications that will provide the biggest rewards starts with an energy audit. Homeowners may obtain professional advice and help to jumpstart their journey toward energy efficiency by joining regional Better Buildings Neighborhood Programs.

Photo: Washington Real Estate

A home energy assessment includes a thorough analysis of several home components to identify areas of inefficiency and energy usage patterns. Energy assessors can determine the best ways to upgrade a property using procedures including walk-through inspections, infrared camera use, blower door testing, and other sophisticated techniques. These evaluations aid in identifying energy wasters such as air leaks, poor insulation, outmoded heating and cooling systems, and other factors.

Key Energy-Saving Measures: Several straightforward suggestions can considerably increase a home’s energy efficiency, according to the results of an energy evaluation. These actions target particular problems, aid homeowners in conserving energy, lowering utility bills, and improving comfort in general. Let’s examine some of these essential energy-saving techniques in more detail:

Sealing Air Leaks: Major contributors to energy waste include drafts and air leaks around floors, walls, windows, doors, and fireplaces. Homeowners may stop warm air from escaping through these gaps in the winter and keep cool air inside during the summer by properly caulking, using spray foam, or installing weather stripping. The home may become more pleasant while saving 5% to 30% on energy yearly by reducing drafts.

Increasing Insulation: Maintaining a constant temperature within the home requires adequate insulation. In combination with air sealing, insulating the attic, crawl space, basement, and external walls may minimize energy waste and enhance thermal comfort. Proper insulation is one of the quickest and most affordable methods to improve energy efficiency.

Upgrade Windows and Doors: Energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights can limit energy loss and lower heat transmission. By choosing ENERGY STAR products, homeowners can be sure they are making energy-efficient decisions that meet or exceed industry requirements. Storm window installation also provides an additional layer of insulation and weatherproofing.

Utilizing Energy-Efficient Appliances and Systems: Replacing old appliances and systems with newer, more energy-efficient versions is another important part of improving a home’s energy efficiency. Choosing ENERGY STAR-certified goods may result in significant energy savings and help create a greener, more sustainable home across various appliances, from lighting fixtures and water heaters to heating and conditioning systems. 

Approach to Whole-House Systems: It’s crucial to address energy efficiency holistically, especially when building new homes or undertaking large renovations. Taking into account every aspect

Insulation Upgrades

Photo: Palm Paradise Real Estate

In the quest for energy-efficient home upgrades, insulation plays a crucial role. Whether you reside in an older or newer home, adding insulation can significantly reduce energy bills and improve comfort. This article will delve into the importance of insulation upgrades and provide valuable insights on assessing insulation needs, selecting the right type of insulation, and maximizing energy savings.

Assessing Insulation Needs:

Before proceeding with insulation upgrades, evaluating your existing insulation and determining if additional insulation is required is essential. To assess insulation needs, consider the following steps:

  • Conduct an Energy Assessment: A comprehensive energy assessment, performed by a qualified home energy assessor, helps identify areas needing air sealing and insulation. It provides valuable insights into your home’s current insulation status and potential areas for improvement. 
  • Self-Inspection: If you prefer to assess insulation independently, focus on key areas such as the attic, walls, and floors adjacent to unheated spaces. Examine exposed structural elements and measure insulation depth or thickness. Additionally, check electrical outlets to inspect wall insulation. 

Selecting the Right Insulation:

Choosing the appropriate insulation type is crucial to optimize energy efficiency. Consider the following factors when selecting insulation:

  • R-Value: Insulation’s resistance to heat transfer is measured using the R-value. Higher R-values indicate better insulation effectiveness. To achieve optimal energy savings, ensure the insulation’s R-value aligns with local recommendations for your climate zone. 
  • Insulation Types: Various insulation materials are available, such as fiberglass, cellulose, spray foam, and rigid foam. Each type has unique characteristics, installation requirements, and cost considerations. Evaluate the pros and cons of different insulation materials to select the most suitable option.
  • Installation Considerations: Depending on the location and accessibility of the insulation area, certain types of insulation may be more practical. For example, loose-fill insulation is often used for attics, while rigid foam boards are suitable for exterior walls. Consider the installation process and consult insulation professionals for guidance. 

Maximizing Energy Savings:

To maximize the energy-saving potential of insulation upgrades, consider the following tips:

a. Air Sealing: Ensure your home is air-sealed before insulating. Sealing gaps, cracks, and air leaks minimize heat loss and maximize the effectiveness of insulation. Focus on windows, doors, electrical outlets, and plumbing penetrations. 

b. Attic Insulation: The attic is a prime area for insulation upgrades. Adding insulation to the attic floor or insulating the roof can significantly reduce heat transfer and improve energy efficiency. Determine the recommended insulation level for your region and assess the existing insulation to determine the amount to add 

c. Professional Assistance: While some insulation upgrades can be DIY projects, seeking professional assistance ensures proper installation and maximizes energy savings. Experienced contractors can assess your home, provide expert recommendations, and precisely execute insulation upgrades

Improving Home Energy Efficiency by Installing Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors

Building an energy-efficient house benefits your environment, comfort, and financial savings. You may drastically lower energy use by improving your home’s appliances, insulation, lighting, and windows. This article focuses on how crucial it is to include energy-efficient windows and doors in your home improvement plan. Reduced heat transmission, fewer drafts, and improved overall thermal performance are all made possible by energy-efficient windows and doors. Before installing these windows and doors in your house, let’s examine the advantages and factors.

Educating Oneself on Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors:

Energy-efficient windows and doors are made to reduce heat input or loss and increase insulation. They have cutting-edge features, including multiple glass layers, low-emissivity (low-E) coatings, and insulating frames. These elements improve thermal efficiency and lessen heat transmission between interior and outdoor spaces. By selecting energy-efficient windows and doors, you may enjoy a more pleasant living environment, cheaper energy costs, and a smaller carbon impact.

The advantages of energy-efficient windows and doors include:

  • Improved Thermal Efficiency: Windows and doors that are energy-efficient efficiently reduce heat gain in the summer and prevent heat loss in the winter. Because of the low-E coatings on the glass, your home will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer by reflecting infrared radiation. Energy savings result from less reliance on heating and cooling systems.
  • Enhanced Insulation: These windows and doors have several glass layers and insulating frames to block out the outside air effectively. The insulation improves comfort and lowers energy use by preventing air leakage, dampening drafts, and maintaining a constant interior temperature.
  • Noise Reduction: Energy-efficient windows and doors also offer great sound insulation. As a result of the numerous glass layers and the insulated frames, the interior space is quieter and more serene.
  • Some UV-blocking windows and doors are included in the energy-efficient window and door designs. UV rays are damaging to humans. This shields your carpeting, UV Protection: furniture, and other possessions from fading or damage brought on by extended sun exposure.
  • Enhanced Home Value: Energy-saving improvements are highly prized in the housing market. Installing energy-efficient windows and doors may improve the marketability of your house and raise its resale value.

Installation considerations:

Window and Door Selection: Look for items with the ENERGY STAR mark when selecting energy-efficient windows and doors. Windows and doors that have earned the ENERGY STAR certification adhere to the energy efficiency standards established by the U.S. Department of Energy and can help save a lot of energy.

Frame Materials: Various frame materials, including vinyl, fiberglass, wood, and aluminum, are available for energy-efficient windows and doors. Each material offers benefits and things to keep in mind, such as longevity, upkeep needs, and insulating qualities. When choosing the right frame material, consider your preferences for style, aesthetics, and financial situation.

Professional Installation: It is advised to have energy-efficient windows and doors fitted by qualified specialists to ensure maximum efficiency. Installation must be done properly to avoid air leakage and preserve the integrity of the energy-efficient features.

Financial advantages: Look into financial advantages that may be available to you, such as tax credits, rebates, or financing choices, to assist in defraying the up-front expenses of installing energy-efficient windows and doors. Inquire with regional government initiatives, utility providers, or energy efficiency groups for possible incentives.

ENERGY STAR Home Improvement

Photo: Perch Energy

The ENERGY STAR house Upgrade is a complete solution to make your house more energy-efficient, economical, and ecologically friendly when these issues are of utmost importance. This well-designed package of six high-impact upgrades provides considerable energy savings, enabling you to switch from dirty fossil fuels to greener ones while enjoying a cozier environment. You can create a future with cleaner energy by putting these modifications into place while enjoying significant electricity bill savings. This article discusses the specifics of the ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade and explains how it may make your house a paradise for those who value energy efficiency.

The Importance of Energy Efficiency: Sustainable living depends heavily on energy efficiency. We can lessen our carbon footprint and fight climate change by using less energy. Recognizing the importance of energy efficiency, the ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade provides a variety of upgrades intended to optimize energy savings and increase overall comfort.

Six Significant Upgrades:

The ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade consists of six essential upgrades that combine to reduce energy use and costs significantly. Let’s examine each of these improvements in more depth:

  1. ENERGY STAR Certified Air Source Heat Pump: Heating and cooling systems account for a sizable portion of a home’s energy use. You may get reliable temperature control all year by installing an ENERGY STAR-certified air source heat pump. Heat pumps are more energy-efficient than conventional furnaces or boilers, which may significantly reduce your energy costs.
  1. ENERGY STAR Certified Heat Pump Water Heater: Much household energy goes toward heating water. You may save significant energy by switching to an ENERGY STAR-certified heat pump water heater from a traditional water heater. Utilizing heat pump technology, these high-efficiency water heaters use around 70% less energy than comparable regular versions. With this update, you’ll have a steady hot water supply while saving more than $300 yearly.
  1. ENERGY STAR Certified Smart Thermostat (paragraph 2.3)

A considerable amount of a household’s energy budget is used for heating and cooling. An ENERGY STAR-certified smart thermostat gives you precise control over temperature settings, which helps you use energy more effectively. Using intelligent climate controls, you may eliminate energy waste and save more than $900 a year on heating and cooling expenses.

  1.  Storm windows and high-performing ENERGY STAR-certified windows:

An important factor in a home’s energy efficiency is the windows. Windows with the ENERGY STAR certification are made to reduce heat transmission, keeping your house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. These windows increase comfort and cut down on energy use and utility costs. By swapping outdated, drafty windows for ENERGY STAR-certified windows, homeowners may save 12% on energy bills.

  1. A Well-Insulated and Sealed Attic

Your home’s attic benefits greatly from proper insulation and sealing regarding energy savings and comfort. An attic that is properly sealed and insulated avoids air leaks, which cuts down on energy loss and improves temperature management. You may reduce your yearly energy costs by up to 10% by upgrading the insulation in your attic, which will increase your house’s comfort and energy efficiency.

  1.  A home equipped for electric vehicle charging:

Preparing for an EV charger in your house is a smart investment as the globe adopts electric cars (EVs) for greener mobility. A home prepared for electric vehicle charging guarantees that your electrical panel can handle the extra electric demand needed for EV charging. You can smoothly transition to EV ownership in the future by proactively making your house electric-ready, helping to create a more sustainable transportation ecology.

Customization and Application: 

The ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade’s adaptability is one of its main benefits. Homeowners may pick the improvements that best meet their requirements and put them into action at any.

 The Best Home Improvements for Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient house improvements are a common preference among homeowners in this period of growing environmental awareness and rising power prices. These improvements not only make the atmosphere cleaner and healthier but also significantly save costs and raise the standard of comfort in your house. This article will examine the top energy-efficient house improvements that can reduce your energy usage and assist you in creating an environmentally friendly living environment.

Enhancing attic insulation is one of the most efficient energy-saving renovations. Upgrading attic insulation may minimize heat gain or loss, a significant source of energy loss for many houses. You may improve your home’s energy efficiency by installing loose-fill insulation to attain an insulation level of R-38 (about 10 to 14 inches) Insulate your attic properly to maintain constant temperatures, ease the burden on your heating and cooling systems, and minimize energy costs. 

Your home’s energy consumption may be significantly reduced by replacing old, inefficient windows with energy-efficient ones. Energy-efficient windows are made to reduce heat transmission, making your house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. To improve their thermal performance, they frequently include several panes, low-emissivity coatings, and insulating gas fills between the panes. Energy-efficient windows can reduce heating and cooling expenditures while enhancing comfort and indoor air quality  by minimizing heat gain or loss.

Upgraded HVAC System: Another efficient energy-efficient house improvement is to spend money on a high-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. Modern HVAC systems, such as variable-speed compressors and energy-efficient motors, use cutting-edge technology to give maximum performance while using less energy. These systems can heat or cool your house, decreasing energy costs and creating more comfortable living conditions. Updating your HVAC system can further increase the financial advantages of qualifying for tax credits and rebates.

LED Lighting: LED lighting is a simple and affordable update that may drastically lower your energy use by swapping out conventional incandescent bulbs for them. Compared to incandescent lights, LED bulbs use much less energy, have a longer lifespan, and produce less heat. You may reduce your power costs while gaining greater lighting quality and longevity in your house by converting to LED lighting.

Installing a programmable or smart thermostat is a sensible improvement that enables you to customize your house’s heating and cooling settings. These thermostats include sophisticated features, including energy tracking, remote control, and learning algorithms. Smart thermostats assist in reducing energy consumption and increase comfort by changing temperature settings depending on occupancy patterns and preferences. Certain smart thermostats may provide a complete energy management solution, which can even connect with other smart home gadgets.

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