When beginning a home improvement project, most homeowners are focused on the cost of supplies and labor. They’re concerned over their timeline, looking at the schedule they’ve set as they attempt to coordinate contractors. As these responsibilities compete for their attention, they often neglect energy efficiency.
It’s admittedly easy to overlook energy expenditure when pulling a project together. You might find yourself overwhelmed with unexpected setbacks, problems with installation and a wide variety of other issues associated with renovations. Even with these difficulties, it’s essential to set aside time to review your energy usage.
Fortunately, you have no shortage of options to reduce your expenditure. Many of them will effectively lower the final cost of your project, as well as decrease your carbon footprint. You’ll preserve both your savings and the planet by approaching your home improvements in a cost-effective, eco-conscious way.
Here are five energy-saving strategies and everything you need to know about green technologies and techniques. It doesn’t take much to make a difference, and even a small adjustment can cut your energy consumption by a significant margin. Consider some of the solutions below.
1. Use Energy-Efficient Building Materials
Conventional building materials are often inefficient and potentially hazardous. You don’t have to choose the standard options most homeowners limit themselves to, because energy-efficient building materials are available if you expand your search. These materials are particularly attractive:
- Spray foam insulation: As a substitute for fiberglass and cellulose insulation, spray foam serves the same purpose while trapping more conditioned air within the home. It also contains rapidly renewable material that doesn’t produce harmful emissions and is both water- and shrink-proof.
- Insulating concrete forms: Created when concrete pours between multiple layers of insulation material, these forms improve the strength and durability of a structure and meet high code requirements for energy efficiency. Additionally, they prevent certain issues like mold, mildew and rotting.
- Thermostat barrier radiant sheathing: A building product from Georgia-Pacific, this sheathing functions in both the roof and the walls as a sort of buffer zone against heat penetration. When properly installed, it reduces energy usage and lowers attic temperatures by up to 30 degrees.
Any of the three products above can help you reduce the energy expenditure in your home. Some materials, like insulating concrete forms, are only functional for certain kinds of projects, but spray foam insulation is far more flexible in its application.
2. Push for Improved Tools and Practices
The numerous motors and auxiliary components that comprise machine tools require a substantial amount of energy. While you’ve likely delegated this type of work to contractors, you can still make suggestions. As an example, switching off specific energy consumers during nonproductive phases can reduce energy use.
Start a conversation with your team and brainstorm ways to tackle the project with greater efficiency. If your project involves an air compressor, moving the intake into a shaded area outside is an easy and energy-efficient alternative. A reduction of 20 degrees Fahrenheit can lower operating costs by almost 3.8 percent.
3. Purchase an Energy-Saving Outlet or Strip
You can manage your energy expenditure with the simple purchase of a smart outlet. Many products are available, and any of them will reduce your usage when plugging power tools into your walls as you move through your renovations. They’re a wise investment, helpful even after you’ve finished your home improvements.
Depending on your needs, you’ll find some options more relevant than others. If you’re intending to use multiple outlets and need a convenient solution, you’ll likely see the appeal in a smart strip. It has various outlets for different devices. When you shut it off, the strip automatically cuts power to any peripheral outlets.
4. Hire Contractors With Relevant Experience
Over the course of your renovations, you’ll likely need the assistance of one or more contractors. Each of these professionals will conduct business differently, and some aren’t concerned with reducing their energy expenditure, only the final result. Take these three steps far in advance of hiring a contractor:
- Contact former clients and ask about the contractor’s performance, touching on their attention to energy efficiency and green construction.
- Search online for reviews and recommendations for the contractor, visiting sites like Angie’s List, CitySearch and Google Local for details.
- Meet with the contractor and question them about their approach to home improvements, their areas of expertise and relevant experience.
Once you’ve met and settled on the right contractor, you should move forward with the renovation process. As you continue with your project, you can feel confident the professional you’ve chosen will hold themselves to a high standard of energy efficiency. Still, it’s essential to compromise when necessary.
5. Choose Minimal Framing for Wall Installation
If your plans include a large-scale renovation with the addition of new walls, you should research your building codes.
Depending on the details of these codes, you could choose minimal framing for the installation, which will require fewer nails and less lumber. You’ll also reduce your energy usage in terms of power tools. If you choose metal framing, it cuts down on wood waste.
In addition to your savings, this suggestion has secondary benefits. When you minimize the framing in your walls, you have more room for insulation, and by extension, greater energy efficiency. Among other tips for an energy-efficient remodel, this is one of the most effective for homeowners with more involved projects.
A Green Approach to Home Improvements
As you organize your plans and evaluate your options, review some of the suggestions above. While you’re likely concerned over supplies, labor, schedule and budget, it’s essential to set aside time to assess secondary details like the energy efficiency of your remodel. These smaller considerations are no less important.
When you begin on your renovations, take a green approach. Use energy-efficient building materials, purchase smart outlets and collaborate with contractors who have your best interests in mind.
After you finish and step back from your work, you’ll feel satisfied with your project and proud of how you accomplished it.