Installing solar panels on your home is one of the most cost-effective and energy efficient home improvement projects out there. By making the switch, you’re able to dramatically reduce your carbon footprint and overall emissions, so why stop there? There are a handful of other home projects that, in addition to installing solar panels, will help make your house even more eco-friendly.
Here are three of the top home improvement projects to pair with solar panel installation.
Update or Replace Your HVAC System
Your home’s HVAC appliances account for nearly 43% of your energy bill and should be replaced if they’re over 12 years old. They’re not exactly cheap, and they vary from brand to brand, but they’ll save you up to 30% on your heating and cooling bill, which really pays off in the long run. Don’t have a heating and cooling system that’s over a decade old? Just like the rest of your home appliances, your HVAC system needs some special attention every once in a while to make sure it’s functioning at its very highest level. For example, something like a low-functioning furnace means it’s essentially 50% less efficient than it would be if it received regular maintenance. So, call in a professional to take a look, or even do some research and learn how to tune up your home’s appliances yourself.
Do a Duct Test
One of the most cost-effective ways to cut back on energy output is by hiring a professional to do a duct test on your home. Leaky ducts are one of the most undetected culprits of your home’s energy efficiency levels. The experts at Energy Star warn that, “during normal operation, gas appliances such as water heaters, clothes dryers, and furnaces release combustion gases (like carbon monoxide) through their ventilation systems. Leaky ductwork in your heating and cooling system may cause “backdrafting,” where these gases are drawn back into the living space, rather than expelled to the outdoors. Sealing leaks can minimize this risk.” Not only do they keep your home safe and comfortable but sealing your leaks can also save you up to 20% on your heating and cooling bills, thus, preventing air pollution due to burning unnecessary fossil fuels.
Leaky ducts don’t just suck up your home’s warm air but can also waste the energy that your house’s HVAC unit expends by trying to cool off misplaced, overheated light bulbs! A duct test can cost around $325 – $350 in some states, so be sure to call a professional in your local area to get the best rates.
Update Your Roofing Material
In addition to making the switch to solar panels, you might also want to consider reroofing. This project may seem like a huge undertaking, but it’s worth noting that when solar panels are installed your roof may also be affected. Depending on the height, pitch, and slope of your roof, your materials (or the whole thing!) might need an update. Installing metal roofing can help to keep your home cooler by deflecting the sun’s heat without absorbing it as many other roofing materials do and is an effective way to make your home even more energy efficient. Plus, you won’t have to worry about replacing the roof after you install solar panels. In fact, metal roofs are a better foundation for adding solar panels since they can be installed without the risk of water leaks, like you would need to punch holes through a roof with asphalt shingles.
As a standalone, metal roofing is classified as a “cool roof” because it decreases the amount of heat transferred to your entire home. With a cool roof, the amount of air conditioning needed to keep your home’s interior a comfortable temperature is drastically lower and can help to conserve energy. When paired with solar panels, this high level of energy efficiency can reduce your emissions, lower your HVAC costs overtime and ultimately improve your home’s value when it’s time to sell.
Katherine Oakes is a writer, yoga instructor, and vocalist living in Northern New Jersey who loves writing for the solar leads professionals at Modernize with the goal of helping homeowners connect with qualified contractors for their home improvement projects.