Infographic: Home Improvements that Pay You Back

By Matthew Wheeland - October 12, 2011
*Last Modified: June 6th, 2014

Infographic: Home Improvements That Pay You Back

Reduce, Reuse, Remodel: Eco Friendly Home Upgrades that Pay You Back

With energy costs rising by an average of 6 percent every year, what’s a homeowner to do? Green-ovate! After working to pay for themselves, many green home improvements have a return on investment that far outperforms CDs, savings accounts, and the stock market. If you’re looking for a place to put your money, these home improvements have the highest rate of return. (Note: The estimates below are a reflection of buying each upgrade system at full price. Homeowners can save even more by taking advantage of local or national tax incentives for certain upgrades or by leasing systems such as solar).

Solar Hot Water

Channeling water from rooftop panels to an existing tank limits the energy used to heat water.

  • Annual savings: $280
  • 20-year savings: $5,600
  • Payback time: 8.9 years
  • Added cost: $2,500

Green Roof

Plant-filled flat rooftops limit water run-off and provide greater insulation that saves energy.

  • Annual savings: $800
  • 20-year savings: $16,000
  • Payback time: 10 years
  • Added cost: $8,000

Solar for Electricity

Converting sunlight into electricity can dramatically cut energy costs. Grants and tax incentives now make it more affordable for the average homeowner.

  • Annual savings: $1,200
  • 20-year savings: $60,000
  • Payback time: 10.8 years
  • Added cost: $13,000

Smart Roof

“Smart” shingles or reflective or metal roofing limit the heat that’s transferred in attics.

  • Annual savings: $300
  • 20-year savings: $6,000
  • Payback time: 6.7 years
  • Added cost: $2,000

Seal Duct Leaks

Sealed and insulated ducts make heating and cooling more efficient by limiting air lost as it travels.

  • Annual savings: $300
  • 20-year savings: $6,000
  • Payback time: 1.5 years
  • Added cost: $450

High-efficiency Shower Heads

High-performance shower heads can save as much as 40 percent of the water used in conventional showers.

  • Annual savings: $300
  • 20-year savings: $6,000
  • Payback time: 0.9 years
  • Added cost: $180

Thermal Mass Floors

Flooring materials that hold temperature better (such as ceramic tile) reduce demand on a furnace or A/C.

  • Annual savings: $400
  • 20-year savings: $8,000
  • Payback time: 7.5 years
  • Added cost: $3,000

Low-Emissive Windows

Low-emissive windows help reduce energy costs because they alter the way windows transfer heat.

  • Annual savings: $300
  • 20-year savings: $6,000
  • Payback time: 2.3 years
  • Added cost: $700

Radiant Floors

Radiant systems apply heat directly to floors and can decrease heating costs by as much as 40 percent.

  • Annual savings: $550
  • 20-year savings: $11,000
  • Payback time: 7.3 years
  • Added cost: $4,000

Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats can automatically lower or raise temperatures to levels that lower cost.

  • Annual savings: $180
  • 20-year savings: $3,600
  • Payback time: 0.6 years
  • Added cost: $115

Insulated Walls

Properly-insulated walls contain fewer gaps, saving energy reducing utility costs.

  • Annual savings: $300
  • 20-year savings: $6,000
  • Payback time: 2.5 years
  • Added cost: $750

Large-scale Water Retention/Conservation

Rainwater or greywater collection systems recycle water for irrigation or toilets, decreasing water costs.

  • Annual savings: $216
  • 20-year savings: $4,320
  • Payback time: 10.2 years
  • Added cost: $2,200

Furnace Replacement

High efficiency, variable speed, or two-stage system furnaces can cut heating and cooling costs.

  • Annual savings: $300
  • 20-year savings: $6,000
  • Payback time: 3.8 years
  • Added cost: $1,145

Geothermal System

Geothermal systems use the ground temperature to reduce the energy it takes to heat or cool a home.

  • Annual savings: $3,000
  • 20-year savings: $60,000
  • Payback time: 10 years
  • Added cost: $30,000

Whole-house Water Filters

Filtration systems supply filtered water to every house faucet, cutting the cost of buying bottled water.

  • Annual savings: $312
  • 20-year savings: $6,240
  • Payback time: 3.2 years
  • Added cost: $1,000

What’s ?

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