If small home improvements are the easiest way to save money and increase the value of your home, then why does it feel like pulling teeth to discuss details? Confusing industry lingo prevents many homeowners from understanding what they have to gain from a home energy upgrade. All the useful information, it seems, is buried in user manuals or hidden online.
Below, we will demystify home energy upgrades with research, insights, and statistics. Our analysis will provide you with a streamlined menu of services, costs, and benefits.
Unexpected Gains in Unexpected Areas
There are a few key areas to consider when deciding on your home improvement.
A reduction in utility costs for gas and water is probably one of the first pluses that come to mind when considering energy upgrades. Interestingly, renovations that take all of these areas into account during planning have substantially higher savings. For example, when the federal government examined the efficiency of its own buildings, it found that a holistic approach with integrated designs netted better results with 45% less energy consumption, 53% lower maintenance costs, and 39% less water use.
Energy efficiency is also a foolproof investment for any homeowner. If you have ever considered selling your home, an energy upgrade is a simple way to raise the price of your listing. For instance, a 2008 Construction SmartMarket report found that green buildings have a value 7.5% higher than other homes. Even better, green buildings provide a 6.6% return of investment on average.
Health and living conditions are another area that benefits from going green. Health is considered at the heart of green design, especially when so many energy efficiency systems revolve on conditioning and clean air systems. Indoor air environments, exhaust systems, continuous ventilation, and the use of low or zero-VOC materials can create spaces with extremely good air quality. The paragon of healthy green design for multi-residential buildings is the Arbor House project in the South Bronx. With 124 low-cost apartment units, it is a massive achievement for energy efficiency. The building shoulders walls of vegetation, a hydroponic farm, and a built-in exercise facility.
Neighborhood and community benefits don’t hurt either. In the Arbor House’s case, it was transformative. Covering the roof’s 10,000 square feet, the hydroponic farm functions as a community supported agriculture (CSA). Built in the middle of a “food desert,” an area without access to fresh produce, the Arbor House filled the neighborhood’s need for food. Now, the community can have access to chemical-free herbs, fruits, and vegetables year-round.
The Wait for Investment Returns Is Shorter Than Expected
Critics of green building often claim that it takes too long to recoup energy efficiency investments. Actually, research points in the opposite direction. When a home energy upgrade is completed effectively and holistically, your savings multiply.
Let’s use a real world example from the commercial world provided by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). A major hotel project spent an estimated $184,000 for energy efficiency improvements. In just over 3 years, the hotel broke even on its investment, receiving $58,035 in yearly savings. And that’s far below the 7 to 10 years that opponents say recouping an investment would take.
Now, let’s shift our focus to the residential market. After the 2009 financial crisis, green residential spaces were one of the earliest sectors to recover, with 23% growth in 2010. At present, that high level of growth has been sustained. Apparently, sustainable energy correlates to a sustainable economy. Not only do these facts testify to the resilient green energy market, but they also prove that home efficiency upgrades are a safe investment.
Energy Certifications and What They Mean
When the USGBC inaugurated a certification process called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) it established quality control in the sustainable design business. Buildings are rated according to their fulfillment of criteria for environmentally sensitive design (Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum). The USGBC also hosts an international round table for green councils from thirty countries that establishes an international green coalition.
LEED certification is like a badge of honor, demonstrating efficiencies in materials, performance, and utilities. It has also inspired a host of new certifications. In 2005, the US Public Interest Design Institute began offering Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) certification—a set of standards evaluating community design. Promising to move beyond LEED, SEED measures success through its own metrics that tie environmental design to social responsibility and sensitivity to people, planet, and profit.
Both certifications are about raising social awareness through the celebration of environmental design. Studies indicate this has worked, with energy efficiency garnering high respect and market value.
When Energy Upgrades Meet Renovation Demands
A vast majority of homeowners who decide to remodel choose an energy efficient model. That shift is largely due to an increase in those who can accurately estimate the amount customers will pay for going green. According to recent data, the renovators now have the tools necessary to make incredibly accurate estimates on energy efficiency renovations than ever before. In 2011, 16% of remodelers said they couldn’t estimate the cost of renovation; at present, the number is below 5%.
When choosing a company to contract your energy efficiency or remodeling project, it’s critical to choose a company with experienced professionals. The more experience, the more accurate your estimate will be. And of course, renovations can always incur unexpected costs related to gaining architecture and unforeseen obstacles. For green remodelers, however, the incursion of unexpected costs has stayed steady. In other words, building green does not necessitate extra contracting hang-ups and costs.
In a 2014 poll of homeowners looking to renovate, the top three reasons for renovating were to lower energy use, save money, and improve health and comfort. Another trend, however, can rely on local ordinances and laws that require homeowners to increase the efficiency performance of their homes. Thankfully, if faced with one of these ordinances, your state or region often provides rebates on green construction and technology. Energy Star offers a very good rebate finder that can tell you what rebates exist in your area. Of course, Total Energy Solutions can also provide an updated and detailed list of what options await you.
What to Expect from a Home Energy Upgrade
So far, we have discussed the residential and commercial benefits of green design. We have also overturned some common myths about the energy efficiency business while highlighting the quality assurance mechanisms of our industry
What, then, does a home energy upgrade look like on a local scale? Thanks to our business partnerships, Total Energy Solutions has access to the leading energy efficient technologies. Tools like the Emme energy system and CertainTeed spray insulation allow us to achieve your desired results. Along the way, we can get creative, designing a living space as comfortable and clean as possible.