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Energy efficient home improvements

Date posted:  8/28/15 09:15:00 AM Homeowners looking into renovations should consider going green.

Regardless of the efforts put forth by the United State' and Europe to escalate the development of renewable and efficient energy platforms, global emissions continue to rise at a much faster rate than just a few decades ago.

The latest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that emissions must be reduced between 40 and 70 percent from their current levels by 2050 - otherwise some terrible things could happen to the planet.

While the government can help reduce emissions, every person can play a part, and you can also make an impact by making energy efficient home improvements.

Make your home green
One of the first things you should do is seal off any leaks that allow cold or warm air - depending on the season - to slip into your home. Leaks often drive up utility bills and put strain on the air conditioning and heating units. According to U.S. News & World Report, leaks are commonly found around doors and windows. Your basement or attic are two other places often associated with leaks.

Adding insulation can also go a long way in reducing your utility bill and keeping your energy usage as low as possible.

"It turns out that about half of the homes in the United States are underinsulated," Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy, told U.S. News.

Consider a tankless water heater
A recent development to boost a home's energy efficiency can be found through a tankless water heater.

Popular in Europe and Japan, a tankless hot-water system is more efficient than an original one because it only heats water when needed, rather than heating the water stored in the tank.

"We have been building energy efficiency into our homes for at least two decades now," Rebecca Lundberg, vice president of sales for PulteGroup's Arizona division, told Your West Valley. "With an original tank system, if you burn through 40 gallons, the water is cold. The system isn't hot enough or fast enough to heat up everything."

Lundberg and PulteGroup know a thing or two about energy efficiency. The Arizona-based firm contributed 863 Energy Star-certified homes to the market.

"That translated to eliminating emissions from 863 vehicles, saving 3.3 million pounds of coal and planting 2,600 acres of trees," Lundberg said.

But tankless water heaters aren't cheap. If you're a homeowner looking to renovate your property but don't quite have the cash to implement all of your energy efficient desires, consider a home equity line of credit. This type of credit allows a homeowner a cash line to spend on remodeling projects, with the lender asking the borrower to put the home down as collateral to reduce risk.

However, a home equity line of credit isn't just for home renovations, though that seems to be the most popular route among homeowners. It also allows you to make a down payment on a car, repay student loan debt or meet various other financial needs.

According to Your West Valley, the typical American household spends as much as $500 per year on its water and sewer bill, though homeowners could save nearly $170 per year by retrofitting their properties with water-efficient fixtures while practicing ways to save on water usage.

Other ways to go green
Another way to cut energy costs is a programmable thermostat. Callahan said this appliance can "save about 10 percent on your heating bills and your cooling bills in the summer, so they pay for themselves literally in a matter of months."

Homeowners should also consider switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs and planting trees on their property to provide shade and wind protection.