Jack Frost has just started prowling the pumpkin patches here and there which means now’s the time to prepare for winter’s snow and ice. That includes scheduling any remodeling projects to button your home up tight.
Do you have major projects in mind: new windows, a mudroom or insulation, a new furnace or HVAC system? You may be surprised to know that the cost of these improvements can be significantly offset by the energy savings—even rebates you get from installing brand-new, energy-efficient systems.
The Heat is On!
The heat may be on—but is it going out the window? There are tips below to weather-proof your home and cut down on heating costs. But if your New England colonial, farmhouse or contemporary is still relying on an old oil burner, you should know there are alternatives that may offer greater efficiency at reduced cost.
There may even be a rebate or tax credit available to offset the costs of a replacement HVAC system. Eversource, for example, offers anywhere from $400 to $600 rebate on heat pump technology, such as that used in a ductless “mini-split” unit.
Heat pumps rely on electricity to run, but the newer ones can generate two to three times as much heat as an electric boiler or a baseboard heater, using the same amount of electricity. You may also reduce your oil consumption by upwards of 35%, according to some energy websites.
Even if you’re not ready to replace that behemoth furnace in your basement, a mini-split can extend the season comfortably and efficiently in a three-season room, or at your unheated camp.
A mini-split has benefits year-round, so you can have your heat and enjoy a cool summer too. The same technology that warms your home can also cool it with air conditioning—and these units are smaller and quieter than most air conditioning compressors and unsightly window units.
Let the Sun Shine In!
Not every property is suitable for solar panels but if you’re planning a major remodel and/or a new roof, it could be worth looking into. The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission and certain utilities, such as New Hampshire Electric Co-Op, offer significant rebates on solar upgrades. However, you must apply for these programs before installing any solar panels, so investigate your options thoroughly.
When You Do Windows…
If you saw moisture in between your windowpanes last winter, it’s time to replace them. Seals break over time, letting in cold and letting out heat. There are many options but in New England it pays to get the most energy efficient ones you can afford. New double-paned windows can lower your energy bill by as much as 10%.
Take this opportunity to examine the sills and exterior for wood rot, and, when replacing windows, pack extra insulation around the frames before they’re trimmed and framed in.
HVAC systems, solar energy systems, and windows are major investments in your house’s function, and pay off over a relatively short time in energy savings. But these improvements also visibly impact the appearance of your home. That’s why it’s imperative to work with experienced professionals like the designers and builders at 3W design throughout the process, to avoid expensive and unattractive mistakes.
Tweaks from the outside in:
- Clean out gutters to prevent freezing and ice dams which can damage the siding and roof.
- Add more insulation to the attic if needed. (Check also for minute openings that are invitations for critters to come in and get cozy. Seal them.)
- Block air leaks, including sealing any unused chimneys (cap if permanently unused). Check fireplace dampers for tightness too. Weather-strip doors and caulk windows.
- Insulate your pipes.
- Install digital, programmable thermostats: each degree you lower the thermostat can save you between 1 and 3% of heating costs. The smartest thermostats can be programmed from your phone, so you don’t have to walk into a cold house at the end of the day—or run the heat too high while away.
- Have your heating system serviced. It’s no picnic losing heat mid-winter, especially if you’re not home and your pipes freeze and burst.
- Replace central air and heating system filters.
- Flip direction of ceiling fans to clockwise, to push heated air at ceiling back down.
- Finally (insert your dad’s voice here), put on a sweater! Every degree raised on the thermostat costs you money.
If you know that your home needs energy upgrades and have decided it’s time, but you’re not sure where to begin, there’s no need to be overwhelmed by all the options. The build-design professionals at 3W design can help guide you to solutions that work, ensuring that your home is cozy and warm all winter, and more beautiful than ever!