10 energy-efficient remodeling ideas

The rising cost of energy is shocking, and oil prices are at an all-time high. With power at the top of everyone's minds, it's a wonderful time to consider energy-efficient remodeling ideas.

The cool thing is you don’t have to break the bank to do them, especially if you’re already mired in mounting energy costs.

Take a look at the ten most popular power-saving options for both homeowners and real estate investors below.

1. Smart Lighting

By now, you’ve seen the lightbulb reinvented several times over. From filaments to fluorescents to light-emitting diodes, there are all kinds of lights for all your needs—but they need not be expensive.

Smart light bulbs add wireless technology, like Bluetooth and wifi, to power-saving LED bulbs. Homeowners can now turn their lights on or off through smartphones, tablets, or computers. The corresponding apps also have scheduling and remote control capabilities.

Smart lights mean you don't have to leave the couch to turn lights on (or off), as you can simply schedule them to work when you need them to. The convenience of using apps with smart lighting is not just reinventing but dematerializing the light switch.

2. Smart Thermostats

Digital thermostats with wireless connectivity are the bee's knees of indoor climate control.

Like smart lighting, smart thermostats are part of the internet of things (IoT) revolution. IoT enables homeowners to schedule or adjust heating and cooling remotely. Walking to the hallway to crank up the heat or kick on the cooling is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Residents can make adjustments when they're not home and save more energy.

Even better, smart thermostats can even work with HVAC zoning systems, allowing you to regulate heating and cooling per room.

3. ENERGY STAR® Appliances

Speaking of HVAC, what if there was an easy way to get the same cooling or heating performance out of your appliances with less power consumption?

energy star

It's pretty simple. All you have to do is to look for appliances with the ENERGY STAR label. These appliances use less power without compromising on performance.

When it's time to upgrade appliances, consider replacing them with the most energy-efficient options possible.

4. Multi-Pane Windows

Who says only the operating system gets updated? The actual, physical windows in your home have seen some major updates over the last few decades.

The first prototypes of triple-pane windows came out in 1989. Today, they're the top choice when it comes to improving the energy rating of windows.

While triple-pane windows are the most efficient options, they tend to cost the most. Double-pane windows cost less without compromising efficiency, so they’re usually the most bang for the buck when it comes to remodeling.

Of course, the local climate will influence the smartest window buying decisions.

5. Exterior Paint

Being strategic with exterior paint color choices helps manage indoor climate control. Simply changing paint colors can save quite a bit in cooling costs. 

Color is a function of light (and energy) absorption. Try placing an ice cube on a plate under a black cloth—it melts faster than it would under a white one. This happens because dark colors absorb more light energy than light colors.

Applying it to remodeling, light paints help passively cool your home by reflecting energy from the sun. With less heat to worry about, your cooling system works less, reducing your power requirements.

6. Strategic Landscaping

Like exterior paint, creative landscaping can cut down on cooling costs.

The obvious answer is a lot of trees, but they can take some time to grow before they'll make a significant shade over your home. For more immediate needs, however, you can plant bushes and shrubs near windows in direct sunlight to shield the house from unwanted heat.

strategic landscaping

Landscaping experts can advise you which shade plants match your local climate. They may employ visual aids and invoices with landscaping software to manage projects and plan out the most strategic way to use nature to your (cool) advantage.

7. Roof Insulation

Pardon the pun, but the peak way to manage heat is by investing in your roof and attic insulation.

In general, most of the heat lost and gained in a home goes through the roof, and more so if it’s uninsulated. Bald patches on roofs or roofs that have aged terribly are drains on precious (or unwanted) heat.

Ensuring the roof has adequate insulation is a requisite to using less power on heating and cooling.

The local climate, roof type, and remodeling budget will influence the best way to improve roof and attic insulation.

8. Solar Panels

Solar panels are to your roofs as a top hat is to your head. They’re both fashionable, but the difference is that solar panels do more than just catch the eye—they capture the infinitely renewable energy of the sun.

Solar panels can be installed on a compatible roof, but some homeowners may prefer roofs made entirely of solar panels, called solar roofs. These are roofs whose shingles are made of solar panels. They cost more than ordinary asphalt shingles, but they last longer and generate energy at the same time.

Some solar roofing or solar panel systems are paired with a home battery.

Remember to take advantage of incentives that offset the cost of installing solar panels. Some providers also offer credits for surplus energy generation. Most homeowners will hit the break-even point with their solar investment in roughly eight years.

9. Home Batteries

It seems like everything these days has a battery. Why should our homes be any different?

Home batteries and solar roofs are a match made in heaven. Solar energy is stored in batteries, which allows homeowners to supplement grid power during peak usage times when energy costs the most. This results in money saved by relying less on the grid or by recharging the batteries when grid power is less expensive.

home battery

Home batteries also offer backup power in the event of an outage. People living in areas with frequent outages may appreciate the option to power their appliances without grid power.

It won't be long before home batteries are as normal as refrigerators. Like solar panels, home batteries may be eligible for renewable energy credits.

10. Home EV Charging Station

With automakers gradually seeing the merits of electric vehicles, you’ll soon need a place to charge your cars.

Sure, you can always use a charging station while shopping downtown, but a lot of people appreciate the convenience of plugging in at home.

Make the transition from fossil fuels to rechargeables easier by installing an electric vehicle charging station in your garage. Home charging stations also let us take advantage of any renewable energy sources we might have at home.

Final Thoughts

Not all remodeling projects are made equal. Some remodeling jobs cost more than others and have a corresponding cost vs. value ratio.

However, any remodeling project that prioritizes energy efficiency is always a win-win for everybody involved. For homeowners, it lets them save energy costs; for investors, it helps future-proof the property for sale, increase its sale price, and trim overhead costs in rental units.

It does take a bit of time for these remodeling projects to pay for themselves, but when they do, you’d be glad you made the switch.

There are a lot of different ways to improve energy efficiency other than these 10. How about you? What are your top 10 energy-efficient remodeling ideas?

Ryan MahoneyRyan Mahoney is a content creator with a degree in sociology. He enjoys writing about generational trends, technology, energy efficiency, and design. You can find more of his work on Houzz, such as this article about Contractor's Guide to Pet Safety.

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