Top 15 Green Home Improvements: Costs in 2021 – Home Energy Efficiency

All major home remodeling efforts demand careful consideration and planning. When tackling an energy efficient home upgrade, that task can truly expand exponentially. It is imperative that you utilize a whole-house system approach to the project to wring the most value from your efforts.

Did you know? Home Energy savings realized in one segment of your property can easily be gobbled up by neglecting to pay attention to other energy-sapping culprits — With that in mind let’s look at some of the popular energy-saving home improvement projects and take a stab at evaluating their value…

1. Smart Home Energy Audit

energy-audit-thermal-image via Henges Insulation

Your first step is to engage a professional energy audit of your house ($300-$500 by a trained energy expert although you may be able to wrangle one for less – or even free – from your local utility eager to reduce its power burden). This will factor into your home remodel plans such vital actors as site conditions, your local climate, your home’s micro-climate, the state of your current heating and cooling environment versus your required needs and so on.

Hey, this is already 2021, so much of this work can be accomplished by a computer simulation! When complete, you will not only have specific goals for the reduced utility and home maintenance costs, but also ideas for a healthier and safer interior living environment that will increase the physical comfort, energy efficiency, and dampen noise levels. A professional home energy audit should also include any local state incentives and tax breaks you are in line to receive for embarking on energy-saving projects.

A typical home energy audit will uncover opportunities to improve energy efficiency and comfort of your home by sealing the air leaks and drafts and upgrading the level of insulation in critical areas such as crawl spaces, wall cavities, and attic where there might be thermal energy loss due to inadequate insulation.

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Solar Energy Pros and Cons – Are Solar Panels Worth It?

If you are one of the many homeowners considering the installation of solar panels on your home’s rooftop, then undoubtedly one of the burning questions on your mind is whether the pros of solar energy outweigh the cons when it comes to residential solar powers systems for homes.

A new asphalt shingle roof with PV solar panels

Let’s examine the main benefits and drawbacks of solar energy systems to help you make a well-informed decision:


  1. Dramatic Reduction in the Price per Watt Installed: One of the strongest benefits of solar energy today is that the solar price per watt (PPV) installed has come down from almost $9.00 per watt installed in 2008, to the current average cost ranging from $2.80 to $3.30 per watt installed, before the 26% federal solar investment tax credits (ITC) that apply to the full amount paid for a new solar system.

    — Thus, homeowners going solar today are paying almost 66% less than they used to pay for solar energy just a little over a decade ago! That’s a very significant reduction in the upfront cost of investment in solar, especially if you take into account the rate of inflation since 2008.

  2. Short Payback Period: Modern PV solar panels are boasting ever higher efficiency ratings and last longer than they did a decade ago. Today, you can install high-efficiency solar panels that will pay for themselves in about 8 years, on average, thanks to the attractive unit economics of solar energy (especially with the federal solar investment tax credits), resulting in a relatively short payback period (break-even point).

    — After your solar panels pay for themselves, they will continue generating home electricity from solar energy for decades to come, with only minimal (practically negligible) annual loss of efficiency.

  3. Reduced Reliance on Power Grid: In states like California where power grid black-outs are a thing, solar panels can help maintain the comfort of having uninterrupted electricity at your house, even when the grid is not supplying sufficient power due to block-outs during peak summer hours. When coupled with a solar energy storage battery, some of the excess electricity can be stored by the battery pack for use during night hours, when solar energy is not available.

  4. Ample Federal Tax Credits and State Incentives: The 26% federal solar investment tax credits through the end of 2022 (after the recent solar ITC program extension by congress) are a very lucrative incentive to invest in solar energy, but there are also numerous state and local utility (power grid) incentives that make residential solar investment even more attractive.

  5. Net Metering: Mandatory solar electricity net metering rules adopted by many states, enable homeowners to sell their excess electricity back to the power grid for electricity credits, when it’s not needed. This is especially useful for homeowners who don’t have a battery pack to store the excess electricity generated by the solar panels during the day. Today, there are more than 41 states that have mandatory net metering rules requiring local electric utilities to buy back excess electricity from the consumers.

  6. Clean Renewable Energy Source: Solar electric energy generation leads to cleaner air and more sustainable living for communities, especially for places like Los Angeles that used to be plagued by smog back in the day. Since solar energy is a renewable resource, harnessing the solar energy is a win-win for your pocketbook and the environment.

  7. Increased Property Values: A well-planned solar power system can help increase the value of your home at resale. A home that generates its own electricity may be viewed more favorably by prospective buyers than one without the solar panels, especially in states like California, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, Texas, and more.

    — Homeowners can take advantage of having a solar power system supplying clean electricity, with the solar system paying for itself in about 8 years. Since solar energy is a gift that keeps on giving, homeowners can continue to enjoy free or greatly reduced electricity, after the break-even period, while also enjoying the increased property value from having a PV system that will last for another 15 to 20 years.

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