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Home Improvement

Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Hawaii Home and Save Money

As I write this article, the digital thermostat I have at home in the shade reads 91 degrees. And alas, only a hint of a breeze today. For hours I’ve contemplated turning on the A/C, but with the jalousie windows and overall “leakiness” of the house I rent, it takes a long time to cool it down. And then once the A/C is off, it takes very little time before it gets hot again. How nice it would be to have an energy efficient home.

But since I rent, I’ll wait until I own. However, if you own a home, it’s now easier than ever to improve the energy efficiency of it. And if you are currently looking to buy a home, when touring properties consider what opportunities exist for you to make the home more energy efficient. Some improvements take time and are costly, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. And if you’re concerned about the potentially large upfront expenses, I highly recommend you talk to a lender about an energy efficient mortgage (EEM).

Man holding device measure heat loss of house

Where To Start?

Before you start any improvements, it is best to get an energy audit done of your home. A home energy audit is a thorough review of your home’s interior and exterior. The purpose is to determine your home’s current energy use as well as to find opportunities to make it more energy efficient.

Ultimately the goal is reduce then produce. Reduce energy consumption in the ways that are cost effective to you. And then, if you desire, you can also look into producing energy to power your home. With the regular supply of solar energy in Hawai’i, it often makes financial sense to install photovoltaic (PV) solar panels — especially with the current state rebate and tax credits.

Benefits Of Making Your Home More Energy Efficient Are:

  • Dramatically reduce your energy costs
  • Increase comfort year-round (cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter)
  • Potentially increase resale value of your home
  • Enhance interior air quality
  • Insulate yourself from rising energy costs.
  • Quick savings — energy efficient improvements usually have 1-3 year payback

Picture of digital thermostat

Improvements You Can Make

Below are some of the most common ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Some are very affordable and have the potential to dramatically reduce your energy consumption.

  • Use Energy Star LEDs for lighting. These use about 10% of the electricity of an equivalent incandescent.
  • Improve your home’s insulation and air seal the walls, flooring, and ceiling. This can have a dramatic effect. First, it can reduce home energy costs by up to 30%. Secondly, by reducing or eliminating air infiltration, the interior temperature of your home will be much more stable. Also, making these improvements will also make your home healthier by improving indoor air quality.
  • Install and properly use your home’s programmable thermostat. This can save up to 10% on heating/cooling bills.
  • Equip your home with Energy Star certified appliances. Energy Star certified refrigerators and dishwasher may save you up to 10% in energy use. And Energy Star certified washers and dryers use about 20% less energy and washers use about 35% less water.
  • Use a solar-powered water heater. A solar-powered heater system can help homeowners save about $600 per year. And currently you can receive an instant $750 rebate from Hawaii Energy. Also, your new solar-powered heating system may be eligible for a 35% state income tax credit of up to $2,250 and also a 30% federal income tax credit.

Want To Make Improvements But Avoid Upfront Expenses?

Energy Efficient Mortgages

Although some of the improvements suggested above can significantly reduce your energy usage, some of them are also quite costly. If you already own a home and don’t want to make large upfront expenditures, you can apply for an Energy Efficient Mortgage. This allows you to borrow money for energy efficient improvements and the costs will just be added to your current mortgage.

And if you are purchasing a new home and have improvements you want to make, you can borrow the funds specifically to make those energy-saving improvements. These costs would just be added to your new home mortgage. And if you need a lender experienced in Energy Efficient Mortgages, you are welcome to contact me for a referral.

Lastly, Hawaii Energy offers a number of rebates on energy efficient products. Click here to see where you can save. And curious to see where O’ahu gets its energy? Visit islandpulse.org.

Looking to buy or sell your home in Hawai’i? You’re welcome to contact me at any time. I’m here to serve you and look forward to helping you achieve your real estate goals.

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