1. Save money. Savings on energy bills vary but are immediate and will likely grow over time as prices increase. And with interest rates currently at record lows, borrowing to improve the efficiency, durability, comfort, and safety of a home or office beats out many other investments.
2. Increase home value. Energy costs are increasingly considered to be part of the “true cost” of a owning a home, much like property taxes and insurance. Legislation such as the SAVE Act may soon require appraisers and lenders to consider energy-related improvements and operating costs as part of a home’s value. Similarly, Home Energy Score, an Energy Star–type rating for buildings, may change the way consumers shop for homes.
3. Improve long-term durability. Better attention to air sealing, controlled ventilation, and moisture management eliminates problems with mold and rot in walls, attics, and basements.
4. Improve comfort. Insulating and sealing the house envelope eliminates drafts and results in even temperatures in air, surfaces, and objects from room to room and floor to floor.
5. Get more value from solar. Solar kilowatts are expensive. Using insulation, air sealing, and other energy retrofit measures to reduce wasted energy in the building also reduces the number of solar panels needed.
6. Improve indoor air quality. Air sealing and mechanical ventilation control air movement, reducing dust and allergens in the air and all but eliminating the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning.
7. Maximize upgrade opportunities. Roofing, siding, and other major home systems are replaced only every 10 to 20 years. Energy retrofits that can be made while the walls are open lock in savings until the next replacement cycle. In the case of HVAC equipment that is being replaced anyway, the incremental cost of installing a more energy-efficient model is minimal.
8. Use uncomplicated, longer-lasting equipment. Energy upgrades that are part of a comprehensive home performance evaluation and plan enable the use of less-complicated, less-expensive HVAC equipment with readily available parts that will last longer and be less expensive to fix.
9. Maximize refinance opportunities. An Energy Improvement Mortgage (EIM) for existing homes can include the cost of energy improvements that meet specific standards, such as Energy Star certification, thereby making the energy improvements more affordable.
10. Create “negawatts.” Because the revenue of de-coupled utilities is protected if sales decline, they have an incentive to invest in energy efficiency, thereby supplying increasing energy demand without building new plants.
—Thanks to Devon Hartman of Hartman Energy Strategies, in Claremont, Calif., for his help compiling this list of benefits. firstname.lastname@example.org