How to improve energy efficiency through exterior renovations

Actions you take to improve the energy efficiency of your home save money and reduce your impact on the environment. In the United States, the average home uses 10,766 kilowatt hours per year, though this amount varies in areas of the country where it is particularly hot or cold.

You can greatly reduce this energy expenditure through many techniques both big and small. Exterior renovations, although daunting to some homeowners, can create a big impact on the energy efficiency of your home.

Your house will probably need several features repaired or redone about every decade. The next time you have a project to undertake, consider how these renovations can reduce your spending and your energy usage in the long run.

1. Fix or replace windows.

Replacing your windows creates a big impact on the energy efficiency in your home. Replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows can save up to $340 per year in energy use, according to Energy Star. If you can’t afford to completely replace your windows, take the time to ensure they are sealed around all edges, and use inside features such as insulated curtains.

2. Consider your roof.

There are many options for creating a cool roof, green roof or other environmentally friendly roofing surface. Also, most homes lose a lot of heat through the roof, so take the time to inspect your insulation each year and see what shape it’s in or if you're using the right kind for your needs. Insulation helps keep the temperature in your home steady and combats seasonal heating and cooling cycles. It also acts to protect a roof from potentially costly damage, through its ability to prevent snow from melting and freezing on your roof in winter months.

3. Select insulated siding.

Insulated vinyl siding has a foam backing and keeps heat inside the home, as well as being low-maintenance, so you won't have to repaint your home every few years. Using other external materials, such as wood, brick or stone will mean you need to make sure your home's envelope is tight and well insulated to avoid heating and cooling inefficiency.

4. Install efficient exterior doors.

Air leakage around doors reduces your home’s energy efficiency and costs you money. Weatherstripping only stops a certain amount of the leakage. Choosing a good door is also important. One good way to make your doors more energy-efficient is to install doors with a high Energy Star rating.

Little changes make a big difference.

Even small changes save you money when it comes to creating a more energy-efficient home. Plant trees for shade in the summer, for example. Fix any cracked and peeling caulk. Do bigger outside projects as you can afford it, and remember that preventative maintenance is the key in the meantime.

Learn how to do a home energy audit