Becoming a homeowner is an important milestone in life. While owning a property you can design, adapt, and decorate to your preferences is exciting, large scale renovations can be expensive. On the other hand, there are home improvement projects that not only cost less upfront but can also save your money in the future. Here are six upgrades with the potentially highest ROI.
Invest in smart tech
While for the generation that watched Beyond 2000 TV series home automation used to be something expected in sci-fi movies, now it's becoming a mainstream consideration for all new residential projects. Smart home tech is convenient, as it allows you to control and check in on your home via the smartphone from anywhere in the world. With heating and cooling, electricity and water bills, utilities account for a bulk of a home's monthly expenses. The initial cost of smart home technology can be high, but the long-term benefits justify the purchase. A smart thermostat that optimizes the heating and cooling patterns throughout the day can cost from $200 to $250, but can also save almost $150 a year. The smart technology has evolved to include smart bulbs, plumbing features, and even garden irrigation systems.
Boost the insulation
According to the US Department of Energy, almost half of the energy spent in an average home goes to heating and cooling. Your HVAC unit might be steaming at full speed, but if your insulation is defective, it’s hard work and energy will go to waste. While most homes have some kind of insulation, by today's standard, it's hardly enough. Fibreglass insulation that comes in rolls and blankets is the most common type. If your home has fibreglass insulation installed, consider replacing the old rolls with new ones, which are thicker, denser, and more effective. Spray foam insulation is the most recent technology, where insulating foam is sprayed onto new or exposed construction, expanding to fill small gaps and leaks. While more expensive than fibreglass, expanding foam not only provides greater savings but may increase the value of your home.
Door and window retrofits
While old windows certainly have a charm of their own, they do little to reduce your heating and cooling efforts. Old windows are often poorly sealed or the sealant has worn off. Stop throwing your money through the window, and invest in modern storm windows. They are built with double-paned glass, which provides better insulation by creating an additional barrier for cold or warm air. Just as spray insulation, new windows can add value to your home, but if replacing all of them turns expensive, you can weather-strip the old ones and caulk any draughty cracks. Steel or fiberglass doors have a much higher R-value than old wooden doors and provide greater security, so you can upgrade them with smart locks that allow you to lock and unlock them even when you're away.
Brand new home appliances are pricey, but each generation comes with higher energy-efficiency ratings. Among the top culprits for unsolicited energy losses in your home are the appliances that have something to do with cooling and heating – water heaters, air conditioners, and refrigerators. Some of these losses can be curbed, as in the case of heaters and air conditioners, by installing programmable thermostats that shut the power off during the night and while you’re at work. Refrigerators and water heaters are constantly being replaced by newer models which generate long-term savings despite their steep upfront cost.
Harness the power of the sun
Although this home improvement project is more expensive than the others listed here, it’s long-term savings justify the consideration. Solar panels are constantly evolving, while their prices are coming down, allowing more and more homeowners to tap into this valuable and inexhaustible resource. Today’s solar equipment providers can fit your home with a Tier 1 5kW solar system components from top-class brands like Trina, Q-Cells, and Fronius, with 25+ year warranties. Mounted on the roof or backyard, solar panels are a long-term solution that protects you against rising electricity rates, while at the same time, reduces environmental carbon emissions and contributes to a more sustainable lifestyle.
This is the least complicated home improvement project on the list, as it only requires you to change your habit and invest a bit more in the beginning. The technology of lightbulbs hasn’t changed much since 1878 when T.A. Edison invented the first incandescent bulb with a graphite filament. The materials changed but the operating principle remained – a relatively big amount of energy is lost to heat as the tungsten filament glows white. Apart from being energy hogs, incandescent bulbs keep burning out relatively often, which doesn’t make them very economical. Although the number of countries that banned these bulbs is growing, don’t wait for the legislation but replace them with LED bulbs, which not only last up to 25 times longer but save up to 70% of energy for the same illumination output.
Home improvement projects are an opportunity to make your home more up to your tastes or increase the value of the property if you expect to sell it shortly. However, renovation projects like insulation, more efficient windows, and solar panels, focus on saving money from day one.