Homes are expensive, and people need to get the most out of their investment. Live in a Home that Pays you Back, A Complete Guide to Net Zero and Energy-efficient Homes, explains how an energy-efficient home can improve your quality life as well as adding more dollars to your retirement nest egg. Let’s take a look at five types of payback, and begin with a type of payback that is immeasurable—your family’s health.
Your home will be healthier
Research completed by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University found that consumers are increasingly worried about the link between health and everyday environmental exposures. In its study, Healthy Home Remodeling: Consumer Trends and Contractor Preparedness, the Joint Center found that indoor air quality ranked as the leading source of concern. Other pressing concerns included moisture, mold, water quality, and harmful chemicals such as radon.
Scientific advancements in ventilation systems are now able to capture far greater levels of bacteria, allergens, and airborne pollutants. Your family can benefit from a continuous supply of fresh, filtered air just by making a few changes to your heating, cooling, and ventilation system.
Energy-efficient homes are constructed with materials that are durable, sustainable, and non-toxic. Today’s building and home renovation materials and include built-in protections from mold and other environmental contaminants.
Your home will be more comfortable
High-performance heating and cooling systems deliver more consistent temperatures and humidity levels throughout every room in the house. Maximum thermal insulation, along with high-performance windows, keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Small changes in your home’s thermal insulation and weatherization can save energy as well as keeping those surprise drafts away. Efficient lighting systems improve light distribution, reduce eyestrain, and offer a more calming atmosphere. Sometimes comfort is simply a peace of mind.
Your home will use less energy
According to the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, “Energy consumption in residential homes has continued to increase even though there are many new technologies to conserve energy. The size of homes in the U.S. has increased 41 percent since the 1970s, while the average number of occupants has decreased 15 percent during the same period.”
Wasteful energy consumption includes heating and cooling of unoccupied homes and rooms, and accounts for at least 45% of total energy use in the residential sector, as reported in the 2020 Annual Energy Outlook prepared by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
According to Energy Star, Energy Star certified homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than standard homes; however, due to additional energy-saving features, homes are typically 20–30% more efficient.
You will reduce greenhouse gas emissions
The “greenhouse effect” is a natural phenomenon that insulates Earth from the cold of space. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are comprised of atmospheric GHGs, and emissions that are caused by humans, known as “anthropogenic” emissions. Human-caused emissions are modifying Earth’s energy balance between incoming solar radiation and the heat released back into space, which amplifies the greenhouse effect and results in climate change.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the largest source of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions is from burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation. About 80% of energy sources in North America come from fossil fuels. Coal, crude oil, and natural gas are considered fossil fuels because they were formed from the fossilized, buried remains of plants and animals that lived millions of years ago.
Homeowners today have a number of options to offset grid-connected utilities with a renewable source of energy. More than 2 million Americans have installed solar energy systems in their homes, and the United States generates the most geothermal electricity in the world. Canada is the world’s largest producer of hydroelectricity, and nearly 3.5 million Canadian homeowners are powering their homes with wind turbines.
You will have greater financial rewards
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the typical household can save 25% on utility bills with efficiency measures, which amounts to over $2,200 annually. Across the United States and Canada, there are more than 2,000 incentives available to residential homeowners to help cover the cost of efficient appliances and energy-efficiency measures. Many utility companies offer free energy assessments and discounts to complete recommended measures.
Cash rebates are available from numerous appliance manufacturers. Incentives are available to support all types of efficiency improvements, including measures such as air-sealing and weatherization.
Should you choose to install a renewable energy system such as solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, you may be eligible for federal tax credits, as well as state and local tax credits or deductions. Many cities and towns have issued property tax waivers so that you are not taxed for the increase in value after installing a renewable energy system. A study completed by the North Carolina Building Performance Association revealed that homes with green certification programs such as Energy Star sold for 9.5% more than non-certified homes.
Anna DeSimone is author of Live in a Home that Pays You Back (Friesen Press), available in e-book and paperback from Amazon and other distributors. The book includes a directory of rebates and incentives for every U.S. state and Canadian province. Learn about solar energy, geothermal, hydroelectric, wind power, biomass, and how “positive energy” puts money in your pocket. Read the Kirkus Review