Comparison shopping doesn't just apply to toasters. Considering return on investment (ROI) is critical when selecting one energy efficient measure over another. This means evaluating the initial cost of the measure (i.e., the purchase of a newer, more efficient furnace) with the monthly or annual energy savings (i.e., a more efficient furnace means lower utility bills).
A study done by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory evaluated the cost and payback of common energy efficiency measures. It's easy to see that some of the common problems in existing homes such as inefficient incandescent light bulbs, leaky ductwork and old appliances make financial sense to solve quickly. Larger ticket items cause more financial heartburn for most families.
It's also important to weigh benefits that are not financial. For example, increasing air sealing and insulation levels clearly more expensive therefore longer to payback increase occupant comfort and have the potential to improve indoor air quality (when the home is also properly ventilated). Utilizing an Energy Star clothes or dishwasher radically reduces water use, and potentially electricity use if the home is on well water.
Finally, it's important to consider financial incentives when making decisions. Many measures qualify homeowners for federal and state tax credits, utility and manufacturer rebates, or low-interest loan vehicles. Check out our articles on tax credits, rebates and loans for more information on financial incentives for home energy efficiency.
Investing in the energy performance of your home has a better return than other investments including the stock market. Weatherizing and improving the energy performance of your home is good for our families, our economy and our environment.
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