Improving the energy efficiency of a house is one project that is better done sooner than later. The initial investment can be deterring right after you just dropped a lot of dough on buying a house, but it is one of the only home improvements that will actually put money back into your pockets right away. Energy savings will start to kick in immediately and continue every month over the life of the installed measures. Since this is is our long term home, it made sense to get the home more energy efficient right away.

And the great thing is that in MD there are pretty good rebates available that you will get back from your utility after the project is done. In our case we are expecting to get roughly $2000 back in rebates. You can check here what rebates are available in your area:

Database of energy rebates by state

The first step for this so-called “Home Performance” project is an energy audit. A certified energy auditor will assess the home to identify opportunities for energy savings and make recommendations for cost-effective energy retrofits. This video provides a great overview of what happens during an energy audit.

In our case the scope of work included a new high efficiency furnace and AC unit (the old ones were nearly 20 years old) and the following building shell measures:

The majority of energy savings in American homes can be achieved improving the building shell / building envelope to essentially keep the conditioned air inside the home for longer. Both air sealing and insulation are important to reduce heat loss. Think of it like going outside on a cold and windy day. Wearing a sweater will slow down the heat loss from your body. But the wind would blow right through the fibers and make the sweater less effective, so you should also wear a windbreaker type of jacket made from a denser material. The same goes for homes. They need insulation to slow down heat loss, and they need air sealing to stop airflow. 

We used AJ Michaels for the HVAC and Devere Insulation for airsealing / insulation – both local companies that I can highly recommend for excellent work and service. Below are some impressions from the work they did at our house:

We are expecting to save roughly $350-$400 per year due to these upgrades and are looking forward to staying warm in winter. Hibernation mode engaged!