I purchased my fixer-upper townhouse in the spring of 2015. There were a lot of projects in my future, which is just what I wanted! One of my primary goals was to make my 1940s townhouse energy efficient. I have started the first few projects. I wanted to share some of the things I learned.
This is my attic before. As you can see (now that I have installed a new light), the insulation in the attic was in rough shape and also did not meet today’s recommended home insulation R-value.
Because the attic project is a great energy efficiency project, I wanted to take advantage of a program that PEPCO offers. You hire a contractor to do a quick home energy check-up and they tell you which projects will improve the energy efficiency of your home the most. If you then do that work, you can qualify for rebates from PEPCO.
In my house, the attic was the number one project to complete. More than windows and more than the lack of insulation in my crawl space, the attic trumped them all. I brought my house’s attic insulation to today’s standard and I installed a special insulation door around my attic staircase to prevent air flow through that opening.
Not only was the attic insulation subpar, there were a lot of large gaps where there was significant air leakage. We achieved just over a 20% reduction in leakage by completing the attic project.
I am also going to continue the insulation work in the crawlspace and I am hoping to decrease air leakage even more.
Keep in mind that your insulation affects your utility costs, and buyers will be looking at these costs in your disclosure packet. Furthermore, buyers who complete a home inspection will be looking at your insulation. If you haven’t done the work, this is something they may need to add to their to do list. If you keep your house energy efficient, buyers will find your house more attractive because it should decrease their monthly costs. According the National Association of Realtor’s 2017 Remodeling Impact Report, owners who upgraded insulation recovered 76% of the cost.
Windows, Windows, Windows
My house still had the original 1940s single pane windows. Some opened, some didn’t. Some locked, some didn’t. I wanted to replace them for more than just energy efficiency purposes, they needed to be functional for safety purposes.
Replacing the windows with modern double pane windows will be a key step to improving my house. Obviously as a Realtor, I care about the resale of my home. When buyers see a house has windows that need to be replaced, it can make them pause. They know that replacing windows is a large expense and they will have to take on this expense. When they are comparing your house to another home where the windows have been replaced, your house may lose out. Not only do they not have to pay for windows, but they also do not have to deal with the inconvenience of the project. Most buyers want move-in ready homes; they don’t even want to paint! According to the National Association of Realtor’s 2017 Remodeling Impact Report, owners covered 79% of the cost of new vinyl windows.
I am about to embark on my kitchen project, which will be more than just an energy project. (I’ll talk about some of the factors I looked at when choosing my products in another blog post.) Regarding energy efficiency, I am going to be updating all of my appliances. Some of my existing appliances are still manilla! I think my fridge was purchased by the previous owner in 2008, making it the newest appliance in the house when I purchased it. These appliances have been real troopers though! I am thankful for my old dishwasher that ran a load of dishes every other day and never leaked on me. New appliances will obviously be more energy efficient and conserve more water.
While I may not want them in my home anymore, I also do not want the appliances to go into a landfill. There are a few options for you: 1. Donate them to a organization that accepts them, like Community Forklift; 2. Sell them; 3. PEPCO offers an appliance recycling program. I gave mine to a real estate investor I know for one of their homes. They may not be the stainless steel that everyone likes, but they are still in working condition and they are better in a home than in a landfill.
Stay tuned for my next blog post as my renovation project continues.