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Energy-Efficient Home Improvement Tips for Every Budget

By Kate Strassel | Citizens Bank Staff

No matter what type of climate you live in, an energy-efficient home can keep you comfortable year-round — and save you money on your utility bills. Upgrading your home to be more energy efficient can range from simple projects paid out-of-pocket to those which will likely require financing.

Read on to learn how improvements to your home’s energy efficiency can help you meet your goals while staying within budget.

Where to begin?

While even smaller projects can have a significant impact on lowering energy costs, larger projects may increase your home’s value as well as its energy efficiency. According to Kiplinger.com, 90% of home buyers are looking to keep utility bills down — and to do so without sacrificing comfort.

Where should you start? First, decide where your priorities lie. Are you looking to lower your monthly electricity bill? Improve your home’s carbon footprint? Increase your home’s market value? Your answers to these questions will help determine whether tackling a smaller, less expensive project or going all-in on a larger upgrade makes sense for your budget and goals.

Smaller projects, like caulking around windows to seal air leaks, can save you money on monthly utility bills.

Starting small

If your goal is to whittle down your monthly energy bills, there are several improvements you can make that won’t break the bank:

  • Caulk around windows to seal air leaks
  • Install weather stripping around drafty doors
  • Replace existing thermostats with programmable models
  • Switch to LED or CFL bulbs
  • Install dimmer switches and motion sensors
  • Install energy-efficient light fixtures
  • Install low-flow shower heads and faucets

DIY projects, like caulking your windows or switching out your light bulbs, are a great way to start lowering your energy costs since they require little time, effort, and money to complete.

If you happen to have electrical or plumbing experience — or have a friend or relative who does — then the more technical improvements, such as upgrading your thermostats or installing water-conserving faucets, could also be added to your list.

Keep your overall goals in mind. While these small changes can save you money on your heating and cooling costs and make your home more comfortable, they’re probably not enough to market your home as “energy efficient” when it comes time to sell. For that, you’ll need to make more significant changes.

Larger projects may require financing but can make your home more attractive to potential buyers.

Major upgrades

Are you planning to move in the near future? Increasing your home’s energy efficiency could, in turn, increase the resale value and provide peace of mind to future buyers. These improvements will generally require more planning, as well as a financial strategy to cover the costs.

Some examples are:

  • Replacing older kitchen appliances with energy-efficient models
  • Upgrading an older furnace and/or water heater
  • Switching out existing windows and exterior doors with air-tight, insulated models
  • Adding or upgrading insulation in the attic, basement, or interior walls
  • Replacing an older or damaged roof with energy-efficient roofing materials
  • Installing solar panels

Taking on significant home improvements like those listed above may feel overwhelming — especially when you have no idea where to start. Using a tool such as a home energy audit can give you a good idea of how much energy you consume and provide recommendations to improve your home’s efficiency.

Paying for home energy-efficient upgrades

Whether you decide to pay for improvements to your home all at once or over time will depend on the scope of each project. For instance, DIY projects such as caulking windows and replacing light bulbs could be paid for out-of-pocket using cash or a credit card. Larger projects, like upgrading your furnace or installing solar panels, will have a much higher price tag. Tapping into savings to pay for the improvements up front is one option. However, if tying up that much cash makes you nervous, consider a personal loan to help cover the costs. Or, if you have some equity built up in your home, you could open a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to pay for the upgrades.

What to remember

At the very least, making simple upgrades to your home’s energy efficiency can save you money on your monthly utility bills while keeping your home comfortable year-round. Larger projects could significantly improve your home’s energy savings, but at a substantially higher cost. However, keep in mind that major renovations are likely to increase your home’s value and curb appeal, making it more attractive to prospective buyers when you’re ready to sell.

Completing a home energy audit prior to starting any projects will help you identify your home’s current energy consumption and offer home energy improvement suggestions you can then tailor to fit your budget and goals.

More information

Ready to take your home’s energy efficiency to the next level? With a Citizens Bank Personal Loan, you can borrow anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000 with no fees — and have your money in as little as two business days. You could also use a credit card or a HELOC to pay for upgrades to your home.

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