This past Spring, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program launched a new initiative, the ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade, targeting six high-impact energy efficiency improvements for existing homes to cut energy use and cost. These fixes will also improve home comfort and lead to a cleaner, healthier home.
With clean energy projects and investments growing every day, ENERGY STAR is urging homeowners to prepare for a clean energy future by making these investments today.
Targeted Home Improvements
ENERGY STAR’s recommendations for an energy efficiency home upgrade cover six specific improvements that range in cost from $200 to several thousand dollars, however, when completed, the upgrades will deliver significant benefits. In many cases, tax credits and rebates may be available to help offset the costs. Here’s a look at the recommendations:
- Clean Heating and Cooling – Switch to an ENERGY STAR certified heat pump to save energy and money year-round. Heat pumps are more efficient than furnaces and can help homeowners transition from fossil fuels for a cleaner, healthier home, it says.
- Invest in an Efficient Water Heater – Did you know that your home’s water heater uses more energy than your refrigerator, clothes dryer, dishwasher, and dryer combined? An ENERGY STAR certified high-efficiency water heater with heat pump technology will save homeowners hundreds of dollars annually.
- Buy a Smart Thermostat – For most Americans, almost half of their annual energy costs are spent on heating and cooling (more than $900 annually). Changing to a smart thermostat will not only help homeowners save money but also have a more comfortable home.
- Seal and Insulate Your Attic – Homeowners should check the recommended attic insulation level needed within their climate zone and air seal their attic. If necessary, add more insulation. This is a fix that can save homeowners up to 10% on their annual energy bills.
- Install High-Performing Windows or Storm Windows – Replacing old, drafty windows with ENERGY STAR certified windows can lower household utility bills by an average of 12 percent.
- Demand for electric vehicles has never been higher and that’s not going to change. ENERGY STAR encourages homeowners to prepare by making their homes electric vehicle(EV)-ready. No, this doesn’t mean you have to install a charging station immediately, but there are things you can do now to make sure your home is ready for an EV, like pre-wiring your home for charger installation.
Energy Efficiency Year-Round
ENERGY STAR Program Manager Doug Anderson says that homeowners can start by contacting their local gas or electric utility to find possible rebates and lists of pre-screened contractors. For insulation installs, homeowners can also reach out to a BPI-certified contractor or to Owens Corning’s Certified Energy Experts. They can also access information about products, rebates, and tax credits, as well as learn tips for hiring a home energy contractor from the ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade Tool. He also noted that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has increased its efforts to promote energy-efficient technologies, especially heat pumps, as the best option for efficiently providing comfortable temperatures year-round in buildings.
Each year, ENERGY STAR’s Rule Your Attic campaign encourages homeowners to measure their attic insulation and check for air leaks, then air seal and add insulation if needed. The ENERGY STAR Home Upgrade Program is a more holistic approach encompassing the most impactful changes homeowners can make today to have a more energy-efficient home, increase comfort, and save money.