The beginning of a new year is always an inspiring time to spark positive change. This fresh start makes a great opportunity to improve not just your personal life, but your home as well. If you’re a senior looking for some energy efficient upgrades for your home, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the most innovative ways to increase your carbon footprint at home while also decreasing your monthly energy bills.
Solar panels are mounted on a roof or garage. The panels are designed to convert sunlight into energy without any moving parts or waste. These panels can increase home values while decreasing monthly energy costs. According to an analysis by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), costs to install solar panels vary widely by area but have steadily decreased over time. Initially, the equipment may seem expensive to install but data suggests that the average U.S. household can break even on a solar energy system in just 7 years.
In addition to monthly energy bill savings, an added perk for seniors or anyone electing to install solar electric panels and/or solar water heaters in the US can receive energy efficient property credits from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of up to 30 percent of the cost of the qualified product.
Whether it’s January in windy Chicago or July in humid Houston, windows that are old, warped, or improperly installed can be a detriment to reliable indoor climate control. There are several options to consider when improving your windows. Frame material and pane spacers—like vinyl or fiberglass—can reduce temperature transfer and prevent condensation. Multi-pane windows are designed to insulate against outside temperature and noise, and gas fills can be used between panes to further insulate. Sometimes, special glass coating is applied to reflect infrared and ultraviolet light.
If you’re a senior who’s looking to add not just energy efficiency to your home, but convenience, too, you’ll want to check out automatic window shades. Designed to automatically open or close at high-temperature periods, these automatic shades buffer temperature extremes during the day.
Smart Home Devices
Whether it’s automatic window shades, or a robotic vacuum that cleans for you, it’s easy to see why home automation systems have increased over the last several years. Thanks to Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), introduced in 2015, followed by the Google Home device in 2016, seniors now have ways to easily manage home functions like never before. As voice-activated smart speakers, these multi-command devices serve as effortless helpers around the house.
Wi-Fi enabled digital thermostats can be programmed for daily flexible scheduling, which reduces unnecessary temperature cycles when no one is home. This easy home solution reduces energy consumption with minimal expense or hassle. When paired with a mobile phone app, an Amazon Echo, or a Google Home device, this can be a helpful tool for a senior who is less mobile or whose vision might make seeing small numbers on a thermostat difficult. A simple audible command such as, “Alexa, increase the temperature to 74” will activate the temperature change. Thermostat changes can also be made from a mobile phone app.
Thermostat efficiency is not the only benefit of using one of these smart speaker devices. Seniors can make and receive calls, turn off/on fans and lights, set multiple timers and alarm reminders, and hear news and weather updates.
Whether it’s to save money on monthly energy bills or simply just to make your home more eco-friendly—or a combination of both!—these green and innovative home improvements are a smart way to start off your new year right.
This guest post was provided by Yvonne M Feltman at Senior Advice.