Green Remodel Payback

If your existing home is in need of some remodeling in order to "green it up" and increase it's energy efficiency, there are literally hundreds of ways to do it, from replacing aging appliances or windows, to installing more insulation in walls and attic spaces. In a perfect world, there would be unlimited amounts of money available to conquer all of these major projects at once. But we don't live in a perfect world, and although doing green upgrades will typically pay for themselves in the long run through reduced energy usage, it's not always possible to do everything we'd like.

The goal of doing green remodeling is two-fold: to reduce energy usage, and to save money through these reduced energy costs. Fortunately, you don't always have to tackle big expensive projects to see quick energy and money savings. There are many things you can do right now today to save a lot of money without spending much at all. The estimate of how long it will take to save enough energy to pay for the cost of a green upgrade or remodel is called payback.

Calculating the payback on projects or upgrades will help you decide which things to prioritize. For example, sealing up air leaks and ducts are very inexpensive projects, and are usually at the top of the list for quick payback. Air infiltration can often account for up to a third of a home's heating costs. Installing insulation in walls or basements that may have none is a more expensive project, but due to the huge reduction in energy usage that results, is an excellent early investment to make.

Steps that Save Lots of Energy and Have Little or No Cost

The following steps have a very quick payback, often under a year. We recommend completing these improvements first, since they are 'low-hanging fruit' that cost the least (sometimes even free!) and will save you the most energy and money.

Steps with an Estimated Payback of One to Two Years

This list of items have an increased up-front cost to you, but will typically pay for themselves in energy savings within a one to two year period.

Steps with an Estimated Two to Five Year Payback

Now we're starting to get into projects that are going to have higher up-front investments, resulting in longer payback periods. You may consider hiring a professional contractor to complete some of these items to ensure the job is doing properly. After tackling the higher payback items above, start planning these measures to reduce your home's environmental impact.

Steps with an Estimated Payback of Five or More Years

These are large-scale projects with significant up-front investments, with payback periods of five years or more. Many of these projects have tax credits or rebates available that will help reduce costs. Most companies and contractors will have all the information you need to research and apply for any available credits or rebates.


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