Energy Efficient Home Improvements That Save Money

Thomas Short
Military VA Loan contributor

Homeownership can often mean updating and upgrading your home. Lightbulbs can need replacing, furniture could go out of style and appliances can break, all making you think about what you’ll have to buy next.

If you plan your next improvement properly, not only could you be increasing the value of your home, but you could also be decreasing your monthly payments.

Energy efficiency is a huge push for many modern homeowners. On top of that, VA loans facilitate energy efficient improvements, making it easier to get money saving improvements.

Ranging from small changes to major upgrades, there are plenty of ways you can update your home and decrease your energy usage, saving you money and leaving a smaller environmental footprint, all while increasing the value of your home.

Here’s some upgrades that VA homeowners tend to get:

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New appliances

Appliances can be pricey, but the savings you get can add up.

Among the high energy appliances in your house are hot water heaters, heating, air conditioning and your refrigerator. These can drive up energy prices because they’re used either often or constantly.

For some of these, such as heating and air conditioning, a programmable thermostat is a smart way to save money. This will shut the appliances off during the night when you’re asleep or during the day when you’re at work. There’s no point in heating/cooling an empty house.

Other appliances, like refrigerators and hot water heaters, are constantly being improved. An old fridge can be replaced with a newer, more efficient fridge. The upfront cost can be a lot, but there are long term savings to be had, and future home buyers may see the improved fridge as a selling point.

Solar Panels

The benefit of adding solar panels is pretty clear: save money by not paying for electricity.

It is worth noting that installing a solar panel system does cost money, and parts do have to be replaced. The inverter with the solar panel will last around 10 years, and the panels themselves can last up to around 40 years.

For homeowners in areas that get a lot of sun, the upfront costs of solar panels can easily offset a lot of electricity costs. It’s a smart move that also adds value to your home.

Upgrade your insulation and windows

Along with upgrading your HVAC system and other appliances, it’s a good idea to make sure that a heated home stays heated.

Insulation – or rather, poor insulation – can run up your power bill. A well-insulated home can stay warm or cool longer and is less prone to outdoor changes in temperature.

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Your windows are similar. An old, thin window can cause drafts, and even the smallest drafts across your house can change the temperature, forcing your HVAC system to work harder. Upgrading to storm windows or another type of energy efficient window will reduce the amount of hot or cold air that travels through the panes.

Smart home accessories

Smart thermostats are a popular move for money saving homeowners, but it isn’t the only one.

Smart lights – lights that are on timers or are automated – reduce the money you spend by decreasing energy usage and extending the life of lightbulbs. Changing lightbulbs to more energy efficient bulbs like LEDs can also save money in the long run with their efficiency and longer-lasting lifetime.

The cool thing about a lot of smart home accessories is that you can also track energy usage throughout the day. You can then adjust your devices to reduce usage, saving you even more money each month.

Getting home improvements with a VA loan

Any home buyers that want to save money with energy efficient upgrades can do so with a VA loan. The VA Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) is a VA loan that also includes funds for home buyers to upgrade their home, as long as the upgrade falls under one of their specific categories.

This loan type works by allowing the home buyer to take extra money out, as long as it goes toward an approved energy efficient improvement.

Generally, home buyers looking to get improvements up to $3,000 shouldn’t have much trouble getting accepted. The VA doesn’t usually accept any improvements that cost over $6,000.

While this program does increase the amount of money borrowed, it does decrease the overall cost of living in a home. It’s a smart way for VA eligible home buyers to update their home while saving money in the process.

Click to check your VA EEM eligibility.