Home Upgrades That Get You Closer to Whole-House Energy Efficiency

March 30, 2015
Ross and Witmer

Energy efficiency is a hot topic for many homeowners these days, but a lot of people don’t know where to start when it comes to choosing home energy upgrades. There are a few specific tasks that can go a long way toward making your home more efficient, and many don’t require a lot of expertise. Here are a few simple home energy upgrades to get you started on the path to whole-house energy efficiency:

Sealing Air Leaks

Air leaks are small gaps and cracks throughout your home that let outside air into the house. These leaks can overload your HVAC system, causing unnecessary wear and tear and costing you extra money on energy bills. For these reasons, it’s important to locate and seal any air leaks that may be present in your home.

Leaks often occur near windows, doors, electrical outlets and attics. They’re often easy to spot, but if you don’t feel confident searching for air leaks yourself, schedule a home energy audit to let a professional assess your needs. Depending on the location, leaks can generally be easily sealed using caulk, spray foam insulation or weatherstripping material.

Programmable Thermostats

Many homeowners assume that all thermostats are the same, but this can be a costly mistake. Programmable thermostats differ significantly from older models with no programming capabilities, and these tiny, high-tech home energy upgrades can save you a lot of money and time.

The simplest models of programmable thermostats allow you to program your schedule into the system, which means your home will be a comfortable temperature when you need it to be, but that energy won’t be wasted heating and cooling an empty house while you’re away.

A number of newer models even utilize WiFi technology to allow the system to be connected to a security application and controlled remotely via a wireless device.

Water Heater Adjustment

Water heaters account for roughly 15 percent of the average household’s energy use, meaning that big savings can come from even minor adjustments to consumption. One big step you can take is, as always, modifying your behavior. In this case, that means taking shorter showers and avoiding activities that waste hot water.

The simplest step you can take, however, is also one of the most productive. By adjusting the holding temperature of your water heater, you decrease the temperature at which the heater keeps water for household use. Since most water heaters run constantly to keep water heated in case it’s needed at any given time, this adjustment can lead to major benefits.


Insulation is essential throughout the year, and all homes should have substantial insulation in the walls and attic. Add insulation to any areas that may be lacking to take some of the load off of your furnace and A/C and lower heating and cooling bills. If you aren’t sure about your home’s insulation needs, schedule a professional home energy audit to get more information on installing additional insulation.

Upgrade Appliances

It’s always a good decision to opt for the more efficient model when shopping for appliances, and Energy Star washers, dryers, dishwashers and other appliances often earn their keep relatively quickly once energy and water savings are taken into account.

However, some appliances have a bigger impact than others, and refrigerators are major energy hogs in many households. Since your refrigerator will run constantly, working to keep the inside cooler than your home’s normal temperature, it’s particularly important that you choose an energy-efficient model. If you’ve been waiting until your clunky older model finally stops working, go ahead and invest in a newer model to start saving energy and money today.

HVAC Efficiency

Climate control makes up the majority of your home’s energy costs, so it’s important that you invest in the most energy efficient HVAC system available to you. When it’s time to choose a new furnace or air conditioner, consult with an HVAC professional. There are a number of factors to consider. Natural gas may be cheaper than electricity in your area, which could make a system fueled by natural gas much less costly to operate. The size of your home and the typical climate in your region should also be taken into consideration.

Learn more about home energy upgrades available through Ross & Witmer, or contact us today at 704-392-6188 to schedule an appointment for your Charlotte area home.

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