Get a Better Return on Investment with These Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Get a Better Return on Investment with These 5 Energy Efficient UpgradesEvery home and property is different, but one thing is true: they can improve with energy-efficient upgrades, which allow homeowners to save money while also adding to their home's value. Here are five energy-efficient home upgrades with a high return on investment (ROI).

Smart Thermostats

The first thing to have installed is a programmable thermostat. It's hard to remember to turn up or down the heat or air conditioning every time someone comes and goes. People usually want to have the heat on only at certain times or maintain a specific temperature.

With a programmable thermostat, people can enhance their heating and cooling efficiency because they can set it and forget it. Even better, some of these devices now allow users to use a smartphone to change the temperature, so they have control even when they're not at home. On average, a smart thermostat costs around $300.

Low-Flow Showerheads

Low-flow showerheads save money by reducing the amount of water used while not affecting the quality of the shower. They have more output areas than a standard showerhead, but the water expelled comes out in thinner streams over a larger area.

These showerheads produce around 2.5 gallons per minute at 80 psi, while less-efficient showerheads produce about five to eight gallons per minute. The showerhead improves the pressure by restricting the flow, making water come out quickly and with force, even though less is used overall. Low-flow showerheads cost between $8 and $50 depending on the brand and specific style.

Outdoor Solar Lighting

Solar lighting is a great way to add light outside without needing to hook up to the grid, using the sun's power to brighten up space when it's dim or dark.

Solar lighting is virtually maintenance-free. A single LED bulb lasts 20 years or longer, and the battery packs may only need maintenance every five to seven years. Solar garden or path lighting is now cheaper than ever before, costing around $5 to $20 per light, depending on the quality.

Double-Pane Windows

Double-pane windows are an excellent upgrade for people upgrading the windows in their homes. These windows usually have an R-value of around 2, which is how heat gain or loss is measured. (U-value measures the ability to transfer heat, while R-value measures resistance to heat gain or loss.) For comparison, an insulated wall has an R-value of between 12 to 19.

Other upgrades include low-emissivity coatings, thermal curtains, and filling the space between the panes with argon or krypton gas on top of this double-glazing. Air-filled double-pane windows have a U-value of around 0.5, but an argon-filled glass window ranges from 0.31 to 0.4. Depending on quality, the R-value lost after 20 years is only approximately 12 percent, so these windows are an excellent investment in the long term. Expect to pay around $600 for an average double-pane window, though the pricing can be higher or lower.

Improving Attic Insulation

The next way to save money and make a house more efficient is to add more insulation to the attic. Though there are many kinds of insulation available, one that will do the job well is foam. Foam gets into the smallest holes and cracks, so your attic doesn't let hot or cool air out. Spray foam usually costs between $0.44 and $1.50 per board foot.

These are some of the best energy-efficient upgrades that a homeowner can choose if they want a high return on investment (ROI). Even though some are more expensive than others, the upgrades do pay for themselves over time.

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