Long-term Energy and Water Efficiency Investments

energy efficiencyWhen it comes to energy efficiency, there are a number of ‘quick wins’ and behavioral changes that can help you reduce the amount of energy you use in the home. But there are also a number of ways to invest in the longer-term energy efficiency of your house. While the upfront costs can be considerable, these costs will be recovered in the longer term due to the reduced energy bills.

Solar panels

Installing solar panels in your home and using solar energy does require some upfront costs, but once installed are easy to maintain and will likely last your home 20 years or more. Not only is solar energy free to use and clean, you can often also opt for any excess solar energy that you produce to be sold back into the power grid. There are a number of solar systems to choose from, so make sure you do your research so that you get the best deal.

Rainwater tank

Installing a rainwater tank is a smart way of using one of the natural resources, and reducing the need to buy the water your home needs to run on. There are a number of rainwater collection devices available – whether it is a tank or a water bladder. While you can’t use rainwater for all of your household needs, it can be used to water your garden, and can be connected to the house to be used to wash clothes and flush toilets. As with solar panels, installing a water tank and rain collection system can be expensive, but these costs will be recovered.

Energy efficient appliances

When it comes to buying appliances for your home, it can be tempting to go for the most inexpensive option. But often, this is counter intuitive, because often the more expensive appliances will be more energy and cost efficient in the long run. Make sure when choosing your home appliances – from the oven to the washing machine – you make sense of the energy star rating and ask for advice on which appliance will have the most efficient running costs.

Building a new home

When building or renovating your home, it’s a great time to invest in its energy efficiency. From proper insulation to choosing the correct aspect and window placement, incorporating energy efficient design and building solutions into your home will reduce the long-term energy costs. Even the placement of trees and plants outside your home can have an impact on your electricity bills.

Making your home energy efficient does require some initial costs, but once invested in will reduce your energy use and bills over a longer period of time.

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11 Responses to Long-term Energy and Water Efficiency Investments

  1. Aspiring Millionaire 03/14/2014 at 1:50 am #

    Yes, when I buy again I will be doing these. My brother has saved a lot by having solar panels and rain tanks installed.

  2. Sofia Finnegan 01/19/2013 at 10:12 pm #

    Thanks for sharing these great energy and water investments. Every home should have one of these things to ensure energy and water efficiency.

  3. Kay Lynn 01/09/2013 at 6:47 am #

    We can’t have a rainwater barrel or solar panels due to HOA restrictions, but we can and do buy energy efficient appliances.

  4. Andrew @ Listen Money Matters 01/08/2013 at 10:28 am #

    Wow, collecting rainwater is an excellent idea, I never really considered it. I’m curious, what kind of costs are associated with setting up rainwater collection? How much does the bladder cost, integrating it into your home water network? How much do you wind up saving over the course of a month?

    I would love to go the solar pannel route, however the initial cost is too prohibitive for me, I need to save some more :/

    • Paul 01/10/2013 at 7:36 pm #

      I researched rain barrels and you can spend anywhere from around $100 to over $1000. The systems I’ve seen have a valve connected to a soaker hose so it is pretty low tech. Check out Sustainable Personal Finance’s Green Tip on Building Your Own Rainbarrel.

  5. Catherine 01/07/2013 at 6:48 am #

    I want a rainwater barrel so bad! I have the perfect location for it and would love to have one for the garden/lawn. One huge investment we made when we renovated was replacing all the windows to new energy efficient windows. We could tell a difference almost immediately.

  6. John S @ Frugal Rules 01/07/2013 at 5:41 am #

    We’re going to need to be replacing a few of our appliances here in the next year or so. I hate to spend the extra money, but you’re right that they do save money and are better in the long run.

  7. Jane Savers @ The Money Puzzle 01/05/2013 at 8:54 pm #

    Perfect timing for this article as my city has just implemented time of use rates for electricity and we are now charged for every drop of water we use.

    I live in a 20 year old builder basic house in Canada and I think they forgot to insulate the basement. The temperature in the basement is so much cooler than the main floor of my bungalow. This makes the basement almost uncomfortable in the winter.

    I have looked in to adding insulation and it will probably be less expensive to move. I will have to wait until the heat of summer so that all the potential buyers are impressed with what a cool spot the basement is.

  8. Michael @ So You Think You Can Save 01/03/2013 at 10:03 am #

    My parents built their home in 1989 and I know they paid extra for better insulation, and since they’ve now been there almost 25 years, I know that has paid off probably at least tenfold from if they had just stuck with the standard stuff that the builder would have put in.

    • Paul 01/03/2013 at 10:15 am #

      When I bought my last home we paid for upgraded R38 insulation. During closing the builder forgot to include the paperwork certifying the insulation was installed to R38 specifications so I said I wasn’t going to sign the paperwork until we had the certificate. The builder, Dell Webb, faxed a certificate stating that we had R38 insulation properly installed in our home so I signed the paperwork and closed on the home. I went up into my attic to verify the insulation was installed properly and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, the insulation subcontractor blew the insulation about 10-12 feet. Some areas of the attic had no insulation at all. I was pretty disappointed with the installer and the builder for lying about insulation that I paid extra for! Make sure you verify any work on your home has been done correctly and to code before you pay!


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