Making wise home energy investments

For most people, their house is not only their home, it’s also their single largest investment. Investments in our homes have been taking a battering with falling home values the past couple of years, but there is another way to make a nearly sure-fire investment in your home: investing in home energy efficiency. Natural gas prices have risen by over 6% annually for the past 30 years, and electricity prices have risen by more than 3% annually over the same period. Savings you lock in now with efficiency improvements will compound over the years and save you ever more money as energy prices increase.

Depending on the age of your house and the way your household uses it, you may be able to realize a great return on investment in such things as attic, sidewall, or foundation insulation, a programmable thermostat, sealing air leaks, replacing old, inefficient appliances, minimizing vampire electrical draw, installing a tankless water heater, upgrading your heating or cooling system with a high-efficiency furnace and/or air source or ground source heat pump, or other measures. I’ve performed several thousand home energy audits since 1984, and whether a house is six months old or 130 years old, I can always find energy-saving measures for homeowners or renters, provide a prioritized plan for making the most efficient investments, and guide folks to appropriate rebates and/or tax credits.

Once you’ve made your home as energy-efficient as possible, you can consider whether you want to go the Full Monty by making a long-term investment in renewable energy for your home by installing a solar water or space heating system, a solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) system, or a small wind turbine if you live on an appropriate site.

If you are a customer of Xcel Energy, you can request a subsidized home energy audit by calling 800.895.4999. You pay only $35, and get a thorough analysis of the energy-saving opportunities you might otherwise be unaware of. I’ve done about 230 energy audits as a sub-contractor for Xcel since I started doing energy audits again in late 2006–I’d love to do one for you!

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