How Can I Make My Fixer-Upper More Energy-Efficient?

BY contributor | Sat Jan 31, 2015

Energy Efficient Fixer UpperGuest post by Monica Gomez

Buying a fixer-upper home is the perfect way to get a great home at a low cost, as long as you’re willing to put in a little work. One downside is that older homes aren’t usually very energy-efficient. This will lead to high energy costs and massive energy consumption in the long-term. Luckily, there are some simple ways to increase a fixer-upper’s energy efficiency. Here are the three things you’ll want to focus on:

Roof

The older a home’s roof is, the more heat it will absorb, thereby increasing cooling costs. Older roofs also tend to have less insulation, which allows a great deal of energy to escape through them.

Adding a brand new roof or insulation will greatly increase the energy efficiency of your home, but this can be cost-prohibitive. An economical way to increase your roof’s efficiency is to coat it. Energy-efficient coatings can reflect sunlight, keeping a roof up to 60 degrees cooler than an uncoated roof. During the summer, this will substantially improve energy usage.

If you do decide to install a new roof, or to reshingle it, make sure to use ENERGY STAR asphalt shingles. They will be able to reflect solar energy and increase energy efficiency a great deal.

HVAC

Your home’s heating and cooling units use an estimated 50% of a home’s total energy. This is why HVAC systems are so critical to the overall energy efficiency of your home. HVAC manufacturers have recognized this, and have begun to focus on going green by improving energy efficiency and air quality.

Some of the latest trends in green HVAC, which you should keep in mind when looking to refurbish heating and cooling:

  • DEVap Air Conditioning: Desiccant-enhanced evaporative (DEVap) air conditioning can slash the amount of energy used in a building by up to 90%. These units were initially developed for large commercial buildings, but may become feasible for homes in the near future.
  • User-Friendly Controls:Brand-new units will usually include controls that can be accessed via personal computers and Wi-Fi enabled devices. This provides an intuitive, easy way to operate a heating and cooling device, making it much simpler to reduce energy usage.
  • Zero-Energy Units:Another concept initially used for business buildings, these may also be on their way to individual homes. HVAC units that are zero-energy aspire to create an equal or greater amount of energy than the amount they use. This can be achieved by using solar powered units, in conjunction with solar power roofing, or by using geothermal systems.

Windows

A great deal of energy can be lost through your windows. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that windows could be responsible for up to a quarter of your home’s heating bill. Additional studies suggest that up to 15% of a home’s energy is lost through windows.

Luckily, there are plenty of strategies to make windows more energy-efficient. Here are some of the most popular types:

  • Insulated: These windows contain a minimum of two glass panes that are carefully spaced and sealed, reducing the amount of energy that escapes.
  • Gas filled: Some insulated windows contain gases in the spacing in order to make it more heat-resistant.
  • Low e-coating:Windows coated with a glaze to lower emissivity reduce heat transfers even more effectively than an insulated window.
  • Heat absorbing:Tinted windows are able to absorb solar energy, eliminating glare and increasing energy efficiency. Different color tints will change the amount of heat absorbed and how much light is reflected.

Older homes present many challenges, but energy efficiency doesn’t have to be one of them. By focusing on the roof, HVAC, and windows, you can greatly reduce your utility bills in no time!

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