Energy-Efficient Home Upgrades – Tips for Reducing Utility Costs and Boosting Home Value

Energy-efficient home upgrades are a great way to lower utility bills, and boost your home’s value. New Yorkers can take advantage of a variety of NYSERDA-supported programs and credits to make these low-cost improvements even more affordable.

With rising ConEd bills and a growing consciousness among NYC homeowners about their environmental impact, energy efficient improvements are more important than ever.

1. Seal Your Home

During the summer, air leaks in your home’s insulation and construction can allow conditioned air to escape, forcing your AC system to work harder to keep you cool. This leads to higher energy bills and premature wear and tear that shortens the life of your equipment.

Air sealing can help you save energy, improve your indoor comfort and create a healthier living environment. Leaks and cracks around windows, ducting, plumbing fixtures and electrical outlets can be sealed using caulk, weatherstripping and foam gaskets.

For example, if you have an old single-pane window, consider replacing it with a new double-pane or storm window to reduce energy costs and moisture damage. You can also replace your furnace with a heat pump water heater to reduce both heating and cooling costs.

2. Upgrade Your Appliances

Many homeowners are looking for upgrades that can increase the value of their homes and provide a high return on investment. Energy-efficient upgrades fit the bill. They not only reduce your utility costs but also help protect the environment.

Replacing old appliances with ENERGY STAR®-certified models is one of the best ways to reduce your energy usage. This includes appliances like refrigerators, washers, dryers and air conditioners.

It’s also important to maintain the appliances you have by having them inspected and cleaned annually and changing the air filters regularly. These maintenance measures, along with upgrades such as installing smart thermostats and adding insulation and professional air sealing will help reduce your energy bills over time.

3. Install Energy-Efficient Light Bulbs

A lot of electricity goes towards lighting, so upgrading to energy-efficient bulbs could drastically cut your power bills. Many areas offer reduced-price LED light bulbs through their utility providers. Energy-efficient bulbs also work well with smart controls, such as timers and dimmers.

Choose light bulbs that have earned the EPA’s Energy Star label. They typically use up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 25 times longer.

It’s possible to upgrade all your bulbs at once or replace them as they burn out. Either way, you can save money over the long haul and help reduce your home’s environmental footprint. Energy efficient upgrades also increase the resale value of your home. They appeal to a growing number of buyers who want to minimize their energy usage.

4. Improve Your Attic Insulation

If you have noticed hot or cold spots in your home, high energy bills, or are concerned about moisture issues, upgrading your attic insulation is a smart move. This is a simple and affordable upgrade that can significantly reduce your energy costs and make your home more comfortable.

A professional can install fiberglass, cellulose, or spray foam insulation. The best place to start is the attic floor joists, which should be covered with a layer of insulation. You may also choose to add loose-fill or blanket insulation, which can be laid over existing insulation or over the joists themselves.

Energy-efficient features are increasingly sought after by homebuyers, making this one of the best upgrades you can make to boost your home value. Lower energy use also cuts your carbon footprint and helps protect the environment.

5. Install Energy-Efficient Thermostats

While it may be expensive to replace your appliances with energy-efficient models, these green home upgrades will save you money on your utility bills month after month. Plus, lowering your energy use will help reduce harmful fossil fuel emissions and protect our climate.

Investing in an energy efficient thermostat is another simple but effective way to cut your utility costs. A programmable thermostat can automatically lower your home’s temperature when you are away or asleep, and increase it when you arrive.

To learn more about energy efficiency and how to lower your electricity costs, contact NYSERDA’s Residential Programs. They offer free, comprehensive home energy assessments for New York State residents. This allows them to pinpoint areas where your home is using the most energy, and make recommendations for making improvements.