Energy Efficient Upgrades for Your Retirement Property

Energy Efficient Upgrades for Your Retirement Property

While some folks might drive their cars with the windows open and air conditioning on, ‌we wouldn't want to try the same trick with our house. With the above-average cost of living and sweltering summer heat, it is essential to save where we can by being as efficient as possible. Energy-efficient upgrades will cut utility costs and increase the property value simultaneously. We're bound to reap the rewards from renewable energy in retirement property upgrades. 

We have a lot to think about in figuring out how to become more energy efficient. First, let's look at applying the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy's upgrade recommendations to retirement properties in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. We'll also discuss some of the emerging eco-friendly themes in the area that save homeowners money.

Reduce Drafts

Drafty houses can be uncomfortable. Drafts can make it challenging to keep the temperature regulated. One of the easiest ways to start is locating drafts and fixing them. Today, we can find infrared thermometers called thermal leak detectors at the hardware store. The low technology solution is to walk around the house with a lit candle or stick of incense and watch the flame flicker or smoke react to places that need attention. Of course, we want to fix any leaks we can find, no matter how we find them. 

Find anywhere there is a draft where hot or cold air can escape. There are a few commonplaces that leak. The most common places to look are ducts, doors, and windows. Make sure there are not any gaps or issues with weather sealing. We might want to install door sweeps or replace weather stripping. 

Fixing drafts can go a long way. The Department of Energy estimates ​​that reducing drafts can account for 5 - 30% potential savings. Still, we may find ourselves in situations where fixing drafts only goes so far. You may also need to consider upgrading windows and doors. 

Upgrade Windows

It is crucial to have adequate windows in places that get as toasty as Las Vegas and Los Angeles. It might surprise some people to learn that contractors can't legally install single pane windows in California. Upgrading to double or triple pane windows can be an excellent way to reduce wasted energy while making the indoor climate more enjoyable. Sunproof window coverings can also help with reducing energy loss and use. 

The Department of Energy says homes lose 30% of heating energy through windows. In cooling seasons, about 76% of the sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows enters to become heat. Manufacturers insulate multiple pane windows to protect against heat transfer from outside to inside and vice versa. 

There is practically no downside to upgrading windows. For the new windows to be effective, we should do every window in the house. Be sure to remember the skylights. We don't want to skip any windows, or our effort to cut costs by upgrading won't be as successful. Professional installation is fundamental for the windows to work as intended. 

Homes in hot places benefit from efficient windows. Upgrading windows can be a great way to make a house more comfortable and efficient at the same time. 

ENERGY STAR and NFRC Labels

There are so many choices for new windows. Knowing which windows are efficient can be confusing. However, there are a couple of labels to keep in mind when shopping for windows. ENERGY STAR and NFRC are labels that help shoppers get the most mileage out of their choice of windows.

According to NFRC, "The NFRC label helps us compare energy-efficient windows, doors, and skylights by providing ratings in multiple categories. For example, the U-factor measures how well a product can keep heat from escaping from the inside of a room." The range is 0.20 to 1.20. The lower the number, the better a product is at retaining heat.  

ENERGY STAR states, "ENERGY STAR certified homes and apartments are at least 10% more energy efficient than those built to code and achieve a 20% improvement on average while providing homeowners and residents with better quality, performance, and comfort."

These names and acronyms appear on stickers and labels on new windows. One offers ratings, and the other means the item is more efficient than competing products built to code. These labels aren't just for windows. We can also find the NFRC and ENERGY STAR labels on skylights and doors. 

Security Storm Doors

Hot air rushes in, and cold air escapes when we open our front doors in the desert summers. It helps to have an additional barrier to insulate the air from the weather outside. Security and storm doors are excellent ways to increase curb appeal and add to energy efficiency at the same time. They design some security doors to double as storm doors. 

Storm doors don't offer significant energy savings by themselves. However, the additional security and curb appeal offset what they don't make up for on the energy bill. Crime is a variable that requires a little more attention depending on where we live, and security doors are excellent deterrents. 

Las Vegas and Los Angeles are great places to retire. Homeowners can get peace of mind from the added protection that comes with a heavy-duty door that also saves them money on energy. A storm door will conserve even more power if we don't already have the most energy-efficient front door. 

Efficient Paint Colors

Lighter colors absorb less heat than darker colors. We can reflect unwanted heat away from our house by choosing the right paint color. Consider using light colors like white, beige, and light gray. White reflects the most heat, but light neutral colors can have a similar impact on heat absorption. Choosing light neutral exterior colors will save on cooling and appeal to the widest variety of future buyers. The same can is true for rooms inside the house. 

Painting can be expensive and a lot of work. Yet, we want our home to look its best. It is easy to find a painter online with so many contractors getting painting leads by listing in trustworthy directories. Consider hiring a professional for exterior paint to improve energy efficiency and maximize curb appeal.

Upgrade A/C Systems

Once we've sealed all the drafts, upgraded the windows and doors, insulated our attics and crawl spaces, and painted, we can focus on the air conditioning systems. Places with hotter summers like Las Vegas and Southern California need excellent cooling. Some areas have minimum acceptable standards for the energy efficiency of air conditioning. Air conditioners have scoring systems for us to consider. 

SEER 14+

Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) measures a cooling system's performance. Units with higher SEER numbers are more energy efficient. The higher the SEER number, the lower the power consumption.

In 2023, California will raise the minimum SEER number to 15 in the southern half of the state, with no less than 14 for the rest. The minimum SEER number in Las Vegas is 14. 

The hot season is much longer in Las Vegas and SoCal. As a result, homes require better cooling systems. Upgrading AC systems will save money on energy consumption and increase property value.   

Energy Efficient Upgrades for Your Retirement Home

Smart Thermostats

We don't have to look far to find a manufacturer advertising as much as 15% energy savings using a smart thermostat. Being able to control cooling systems remotely and on a schedule gives us an edge over old analog systems. We can set the cooling systems to use less power while sleeping, running errands, or traveling. The best part is that we can sign in remotely if we forget to change a setting. Say goodbye to cooling the house while nobody is there, even if we forget to turn off the thermostat before leaving the house. 

Heat Pump Water Heaters

Electric heat pump water heaters (HPWHs) are the next big thing. They can decarbonize homes and act as clean energy batteries. Electric HPWHs can store water heated during more affordable times. As a result, we can shift electricity demand away from peak hours to times when rates are lower or another alternative energy becomes abundant. We can also use HPWH with renewable power sources like solar panels.

Conventional water heaters are sources of pollution. If they're electric and hooked up to a grid, there is pollution from the power plant. There is pollution as a byproduct of combustion if they're gas. 

Upgrading water heaters can reduce emissions, save energy, and ultimately pay for themselves. California has incentive programs for heat pump water heaters that reduce combustion. Be sure to take advantage of any opportunity to increase property value while making the home more efficient. 

Home Battery

Energy costs more during peak times in a lot of different places. Like electric HPWHs, home batteries are a great way to use grid energy ‌when there is less demand. We can set up home battery systems to recharge at night when grid energy costs less and supplement power during peak times when it costs more. We can use home batteries with or without solar panels.

Solar Panels

Solar panels are a great way to harvest clean energy. They pay for themselves soon after the initial investment. California has the California Solar Initiative (CSI), and Nevada has the Solar Energy Systems Incentive Program. These incentive programs help offset getting started with solar panels. We can pair solar panels with a home battery to store renewable energy from the day and use it when it would otherwise be more expensive coming from the grid. 

Energy Efficient Upgrades for Your Home

EV Charging Station

Gas prices are trending up, and the cost of electric vehicles is coming down. In addition, many states offer incentives to switch from gas to electric cars more affordable. 

In Nevada, consumers can get a $7,500 tax credit for plug-in electric vehicles and a 30% tax credit on charging infrastructure for up to $1,000. California has a variety of similar initiatives, with different incentives for electric vehicles and infrastructure depending on location. 

Adding a charging station to the property will increase the property value, as the next buyer will appreciate the upgrade when the time comes to sell the house. If we take advantage of incentives, we can save a stack of money.

Conclusion - Energy Efficient Upgrades for Your Retirement Home

Making retirement properties more efficient is essential. We can make our homes more enjoyable and cut down on costs at the same time. The best ways to improve efficiency for Las Vegas and Los Angeles homes include sealing air leaks, replacing windows, upgrading cooling systems, upgrading water heaters, leveraging solar, and adding charging stations for EVs. Whatever we decide to do will increase the value of our property and eventually pay for itself. 

Contact us today for any additional help with buying or selling a home.  

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