9 Energy Efficient Home Improvements That Pay for Themselves

Posted by Laine Smith on 12/11/16 10:00 AM

Topics: Home Ownership

The average U.S. household spends upwards of $1,600 on electricity and gas alone. While you’re planning home renovations and remodeling projects in the new year, it’s worthwhile to consider some home improvements that will save you money in the long run. We’ve compiled some of the most energy efficient home improvements that will eventually pay for their investment.


Adding Insulation

In 2016, the Cost vs. Value Report named adding fiberglass attic insulation as the best remodeling project to boost home value. With a job cost of $1,268 and a resale value of $1,482, adding attic insulation has a cost recoup of 116.9 percent. Even if you’re not looking into resale value, insufficient attic insulation accounts for nearly one quarter of home heat loss. The average recommended level of attic insulation is 10 to 14 inches, depending on insulation type.

Getting Smart with Your Thermostat

Smart thermostats like The Nest Thermostat self-programs and then self-pays. By learning your temperature preferences, the thermostat automatically adjusts and can even tell when there is no one home. Through daily energy history reports, users can see how much energy they are using and what they can do to use less. Boasting 10-12% savings on heating and 15% on cooling, this thermostat can pay for itself in less than two years.

Caulking & Weatherstripping


Don’t keep allowing the paid air to escape through poorly sealed windows and doors. Feel around your windows and entryways for breezes to see where you may need caulking or a weatherstripping replacement. Simply caulking leaky windows can give you up to 20% in energy savings.

Installing Ceiling Fans

While ceiling fans won’t make the air in your home cooler or warmer, they help to regulate air flow, making it feel cooler or warmer (depending on the fan’s direction). Utilize your ceiling fans in the winter time and lower your thermostat. For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-70 degree range, you can save up to 5% on home heating costs, according to the California Energy Commission.

Sealing Ductwork

High energy bills? Rooms of your home that have difficulty maintaining temperature? You may have issues with your ductwork. According to Energy Star, 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through your duct system is lost due to leaking or poorly connected ducts. This is a job for a contractor, but according to Metaefficient, it could save you as much as $300 in energy costs annually

Installing Storm Windows


Window replacement is one of the more expensive renovations projects, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, they can be just as energy-efficient as an entire window replacement for a fraction of the cost. With 12-33% in energy savings annually, placing storm windows on older or energy inefficient windows may be a good option for you. Side note, it’s a relatively simple DIY homeowner project.

Going With the (Low) Flow


Low flow showerheads can save 25-60% of your water consumption while also eliminating some water heating expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. You can replace your existing showerhead for less than $20. Just make sure the flow rate is less than 2.5 gallons-per-minute.

Investing in Plastic

Not the most aesthetically-pleasing home improvement, but for homeowners who aren’t looking to make the large investment of window replacement, window film can keep your home comfortable throughout the winter and help keep your utility bills down.


Wrapping Your Water Heater

Second to heating and cooling your home, heating water is the biggest home energy consumer. Covering your hot water heater with an insulation blanket costs less than $30 and can save you up to 16% in water heating costs annually.

Smarten Up Your Lighting


If you’re still buying incandescents because of the low upfront costs, it’s time to ditch them. An incandescent bulb has a lifespan of 1,200 hours and costs $201 to operate over a 23-year span. CFL lightbulbs last around 8,000 hours and cost around $48 over that same time period. Even better, LED lightbulbs have a lifespan of 25,000 hours and cost $38 to operate over that time period.

Thinking of some larger scale home improvements? Download our free Rehab & Construction Guide for ways to incorporate the costs of your renovations, remodel or home improvement projects into your mortgage.

Download: Rehab & Construction Guide

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