We’ve been in our new home for 3 months now and having made it through Winter 2015 I realize that we need to do some renovations to save on heating costs. Here are some home renovations that can save you money.
I’ve been busy over the past few weeks with getting quotes from insulation and window companies. I’ve also been doing some research into how to get the most bang for your buck with these kinds of home expenses.
From what I can tell, you get the most bang for your buck with insulation. My current attic insulation is somewhere between R-12 and R-20. The plan is to increase this to R-60. That is above current code (R-50) and will likely be all we’ll ever need. As this is our final home, I want to do things right so that we won’t have to revisit this in a few years.
The plan will be to use blown cellulose to increase the attic insulation and with some additional work to improve venting the final bill will be $1800. From what I can tell from my research, this renovation will save us somewhere between 15-20% of our monthly heating and cooling costs. If that is in fact true, then this reno will pay for itself in about 3 years.
Here is a useful insulation calculator that I found if you want to run your own calculations.
As for the windows, if we replace everything (windows and doors) the total cost will be $32,000! Our home is a 2 storey detached with lots of windows. Now the company that we’ll most likely go with is not the cheapest of the bunch but they do offer a quality window guaranteed for life. That lifetime guarantee is not pro-rated either, so if a seal goes on a window, they will replace the window and we’ll only have to pay installation fee, not the cost of the window itself.
Since we plan to be in our home forever, this is an update that will endure as long as we live there. But the return is nowhere near as good as with the attic insulation. When I researched this, a lot of what I found focused on the aesthetics of new windows and doors and how they might increase the re-sale value of the home, rather than on the practical (measurable) savings in terms of heating and cooling costs. What I did find suggested that I could save between 10 and 20% of heating and cooling costs. That amount of savings is a pittance compared to the costs of buying all new windows and doors.
Since we plan to live there forever, we don’t really care about increasing re-sale value. So rather than replace all the windows and doors on our house all at once, we’ll likely do this in stages over the next few years (unless the company offers us a deal that we can’t refuse!).
In our finished basement area in particular I think we’ll be able to get the most savings from new windows. Our basement has 3 windows that need replacing at a cost of about $1500. I checked with an infrared gun and found that the area around the windows was approximately 10-20 degrees f cooler than the wall temperature. So I think that replacing those windows and insulating around them will result in a significant reduction in heat loss and save us money on heating costs as well as making our basement more comfortable in the winter.
Photo credit: Photo by hywards