If you’ve ever thought that the cost of utilities is too high, you’re not alone. People spend thousands of dollars each year on their electricity bill alone — not to mention things like gas and water.
Fortunately, there are many cost-effective upgrades and renovations that can make your home more efficient and save you money on utilities. Plus, many of these upgrades can also increase the value of your home if you ever decide to sell it.
That said, here are some of the best upgrades you can make, according to home renovation and construction professionals.
1. Better Insulation
One of the most effective ways to lower utility costs is to upgrade the insulation throughout your home. “By properly insulating your home, you can minimize heat transfer and keep your home cooler in summer and warmer in winter,” said Erica Anenberg, CEO of Girl Flip. “Insulating the attic, walls, floors, and basement can lead to substantial energy savings.”
Artem Kropovinsky, an Interior Designer and Founder of Arsight, added, “Consider everything from high-quality windows to superior wall and attic insulation — these elements can help regulate your home’s temperature and cut back on heating or air conditioning use. For a design twist, opt for insulated drapes or cellular shades; these design accents offer visual appeal while promoting energy conservation.”
2. Programmable Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat in your home can boost its energy efficiency and save you money on utility costs throughout the year. “A programmable thermostat allows you to schedule temperature adjustments based on when you’re home or away,” said Zach Barnes-Corby, Head of Construction at Block Renovation. “By optimizing your heating and cooling settings, you can reduce energy usage when the house is unoccupied.”
Installation costs for a programmable thermostat range from around $100 to $200. A simple programmable thermostat from Lowe’s goes for around $60 to $80.
3. LED Lighting
Another way to lower your energy bill is to switch to LED lighting solutions. These are energy-efficient and tend to last longer than other options, though they might cost more initially.
“Switching to energy-efficient LED lighting throughout your home can have a noticeable impact on your utility bills,” said Anenberg. “LED bulbs use significantly less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and have a much longer lifespan. They are also available in various colors and brightness levels to suit different preferences.”
But don’t stop with the bulbs — consider upgrading your light switches for even more savings. “To go with your LED bulbs, consider getting smart light switches,” said Sebastian Jania, Owner of Ontario Property Buyers, a Real Estate Solutions and Investment Company. “These are not very expensive but allow for you to turn lights off remotely, which allows for a greater control over energy consumption, ultimately leading to reduced electricity bills.”
You can also get a smart home device like Alexa and schedule it so that your lights turn on or off at specific times. This can be especially useful if you tend to forget to turn off the lights when you go to bed or leave the house.
4. Energy-Efficient Appliances
These days, many appliances and machines are designed to help you reduce electricity consumption and save money on utilities. You can upgrade everything from your windows to your refrigerator to your lighting. But it might be more cost-effective to wait until it’s time to make the change rather than swap out something that’s already working.
“When it’s time to replace your appliances, opt for energy-efficient models with an ENERGY STAR certification,” said Barnes-Corby. “Energy-efficient refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers, and other appliances can significantly reduce your energy consumption.”
You can even swap out your windows to save on energy bills. “Upgrading to energy-efficient windows can significantly enhance your home’s energy efficiency,” said Anenberg. “Look for windows with multiple panes, low-emissivity (low-E) coatings, and insulating gas fills. These features help to minimize heat transfer, reduce drafts, and maintain a more comfortable indoor temperature.”
Another thing to consider upgrading includes your HVAC system — that is, your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system — to an energy-efficient model. Keep an eye out for systems that have either the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) or a high Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio rating.
5. Water-Efficient Appliances
One oft-overlooked upgrade that you can make is to your water fixtures and appliances — e.g., your old toilets and showerheads. By replacing older fixtures or appliances with water-efficient ones, you could cut down your water consumption and save money.
You can even upgrade your kitchen and bathroom faucets. “Upgrade your kitchen faucet to one with a built-in aeration function, and you’ll be amazed by the benefits,” said Teri Simone, Head of Design and Marketing at Nieu Cabinet Doors. “Not only does it reduce the amount of water flowing from your tap, resulting in lower water bills, but you won’t notice a difference in water pressure or functionality. It’s a smart and eco-friendly choice for conserving water without compromising on performance.”
6. Solar Panels and Solar-Powered Appliances
Installing solar panels and upgrading to solar-powered appliances can also help lower your energy bill. In fact, you could save around $97,000 over 25 years by switching to solar energy. Using solar panels could also qualify you for certain incentives, such as state tax credits and property tax exemptions.
But be prepared for the initial cost investment. Solar panels typically cost around $1,500 to $2,500 apiece at places like Lowe’s or Home Depot. This doesn’t include installation fees.
“Installing solar panels is a more significant investment but can result in long-term energy savings,” said Anenberg. “Solar panels harness renewable energy from the sun, reducing reliance on traditional power sources and lowering utility costs. Additionally, some areas offer incentives and tax credits for installing solar panels, making it a more financially viable option.”
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