10 reasons to retrofit
The motivating factors behind investing in energy retrofits vary from person to person. Some are interested in leaving a smaller footprint on the earth; others simply want lower utility bills. Here are 10 reasons to take into account when considering making the jump.
- Financial Savings: Savings on utility bills may vary depending on the level of retrofit, but are immediate and will continue to grow over time as utility prices increase. With interest rates currently at record lows, borrowing to improve the efficiency of your home or office beats out many other investments.
- Increase Home Value: Energy costs are increasingly considered to be part of the "true cost" of owning a home, much like property taxes & insurance. Legislation such as the SAVE Act may soon require appraisers and lenders to consider energy-related improvements and operating costs as part of a home's value. In addition, Home Energy Score (an Energy Star-type rating for buildings, may change the way consumers shop for homes.
- Improve Durability: Better attention to air sealing, controlled ventilation and moisture management eliminates problems with mold and rot in walls, attics and basements. In addition, choosing materials with longer lifespans will reduce the need (and cost) of improvements in the future.
- Improve Comfort: Insulating & sealing the house envelope eliminates drafts and results in even temperatures in air & surfaces from room to room.
- Capitalizing on Solar: Solar kilowatts are expensive. Using insulation, air sealing and other energy retrofit measures to reduce wasted energy reduces the number of solar panels needed. As a general rule, it is more cost-effective to save energy, than produce it.
- Improve Indoor Air Quality: Air sealing & mechanical ventilation control air movement, reducing dust and allergens in the air and all but eliminating the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Maximize Upgrade Opportunities: Roofing, siding and other major home systems are replaced only every 10 to 20 years. Energy retrofits that can be made while the walls are open lock in savings until the next replacement cycle. For example, for HVAC equipment that is going to be replaced anyways, the incremental cost of installing a more energy efficient model is minimal.
- Stick to Uncomplicated, Longer Lasting Equipment: Energy upgrades that are part of a comprehensive home performance evaluation and plan enable the use of less complicated, less expensive equipment with readily available parts that will last longer and be less expensive to fix.
- Maximize Refinance Opportunities: An Energy Improvement Mortgage (EIM) for existing homes can include the cost of energy improvements that meet specific standards, such as Energy Star certification, thereby making the energy improvements more affordable.
- Create "Nega-Watts": Because the revenue of de-coupled utilities is protected if sales decline, they have an incentive to invest in energy efficiency, thereby supplying increasing energy demand without building new plants.
Heather Ferrier Laminack Representing the fourth generation of the Ferrier Companies, Heather Ferrier Laminack functions as the marketing manager for Texas-based green home builder Ferrier Custom Homes, utilizing her passion for sustainable building practices and her first-hand experience of green building techniques.