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How to renovate for energy efficiency

Renovating a space in today’s market, whether for personal use or resale, can be quite the costly venture. Flooring, windows, kitchen and bath upgrades and many other renovation areas can quickly add up. However, there is a way to renovate your property so that the returns will more than make up for the initial expense. Renovating for energy efficiency is practical across the board.

If, for example, you were seeking to sell the property, having an energy-efficient flat or office space becomes far more attractive to potential buyers. They realise that their energy costs will be minimum, their insurance options will be more varied and the appliances and fixtures in the space are upgraded and high-end. Sarah Brinkley is a writer enthusiastic about home improvement, housing and real estate business. Here she discusses how to make your home more energy efficient and lower your bills in the process.

Fix the property’s leaks

A leak by itself might not cost you a lot of money via your utility bills but it will cost you a lot of money in the long run. A leaking pipe behind a wall or in a basement can easily snowball into something more serious. Mould, mildew, foundation damage, rot and other water-caused types of damages will destroy your home if given time.

copper pipework

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Investing in leak detection is not only energy efficient in terms of water conservation, it’s also a very practical safeguard against cost and harm going forward.

Make the smallest changes

Before opening up the chequebook for high-end upgrades, remember to make the smallest changes first. Renovating for energy efficiency goes well beyond purchasing equipment that’s rated well for energy usage. You want to make multiple small, inexpensive changes that will add up to maximum effect.

For instance, change your light bulbs to the latest LED energy-rated bulbs, insulate well around windows, in attics, in basements, etc., look at efficient outlets/receptors that shut off power completely when not in use and even look at paint and other decorative features that are labelled green. Proper wall and loft insulation can be seen as a good investment, since approximately 35 per cent of the heat is lost through the walls, and 25 per cent through the wall. Insulating the walls and the roof can save you up to £320 per year.

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Look at low-flow fixtures

The rates of faucets cannot exceed the regulated amount of water per minute and these rates may be different depending on where you live. The smartest way to go about making fixture changes is to look at low-flow options. These particular fixtures are designed specifically to utilise simple physics to give you a stronger stream of water without consuming a lot of water. In other words, think about holding your thumb over the end of a water hose.

Showerheads are amongst the most popular in the low-flow department. You can find laminar-flow heads which give you individual streams of water, aerating heads which mix air with water and simplistic adjustable heads which allow you to narrow the water openings for a stronger spray using a lot less water.

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Extend the low-flow hunt to your sink faucets as well. Different styles of aerator inside of the faucet will determine the strength of the flow while ensuring that you never use more water than necessary.

Upgrade the appliances

Ensuring that you upgrade appliances is the next step in renovating for energy efficiency. There are three main appliances you want to focus on upgrading to energy-efficient models – your refrigerator, your stove/oven and your washer and/or washer-dryer combo.

That being said, dishwashers, hot water heaters and even everyday appliances like toasters and coffee pots come in energy-efficient models. Making those particular upgrades bodes well for the property’s value and for a much lower utility bill but the big three are must-dos for renovating. Anything else is a bonus.

Refrigerators are the main appliance to switch out. They’re constantly on and operating at high capacity, particularly if you have a new model with a larger freezer and ice/water dispenser. Efficient models of fridges are a large up-front investment but they typically pay off tenfold in a matter of years. The Energy Star certified fridges beat the federal minimum efficiency standards at least by 20 per cent and the prices for these start from around £650.

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As for the type of washer or washer-dryer model, look for more than a simple energy efficient tag on the box. You’ll need a washer that works on high capacity settings without using a lot of water. Look for dryers that have spacious drums and lower amperage settings to ensure that they’re truly efficient.

For your stove/oven, you can completely get off of electric and go with gas. Gas ranges are typically in higher demand and will add value to the property in two ways: through resale value and through utility bills.

Understand that renovating for energy efficiency is a process that is going to cost time and money. However, adding value to the property and saving big on utility bills – not to mention, helping to save the planet – is an investment that’s more than worth it.

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