PV panels and wind turbines might have a lot of sex appeal, but they can also be pricy. If you're on a limited budget, here are some recommendations for affordable home energy efficiency upgrades that will pay for themselves in short order.
Energy upgrades to Jefren Olson’s home in Madison, Wis., have made it much more efficient to heat and cool. Some of his recent home improvements include adding insulation and replacing the windows.
Jefren Olson’s home in Madison, Wis., before the energy upgrades.
Jefren Olson’s home in Madison, Wis., in the process of getting new insulation.
Adding insulation is a great way to make a home more energy efficient. If you’re not sure where or whether your home needs more insulation, a home energy audit can help you figure that out.
This is an infrared photo from an energy audit — the red areas show where the most heat is escaping.
Changing your light bulbs is one of the easiest things you can do to save electricity. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use far less electricity than the older incandescent bulbs, and they come in a wide variety of styles. If you search, you can find CFLs for almost any type of light fixture.
A home wind turbine is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, but will it save you money? You’ll need to do some research to find out. The answer depends on a number of factors specific to your situation, including how much wind your site can produce, how much you pay for electricity and the tax credits and rebates available where you live.
Solar-electric panels and solar water heating systems are other items that make great environmental sense and may lead to big cash savings, depending on the specifics of your situation.
In general, home energy efficiency improvements involve spending money now to save on your energy bills later. For big-ticket items, you really can save big, but you’ll want to calculate payback periods carefully.
PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO/TOMISLAV FORGO
Don’t overlook the simple things you can do to make your home more energy efficient. Some of the best green home improvements will cost you little or nothing!