If you're thinking about remodeling your home, you're probably thinking about increasing its value. Well, consider making energy-saving improvements as part of your remodel. These upgrades not only increase the value of your home, but they also reduce your monthly utility bills. So the value goes up while your costs go down. And if you're thinking about designing a new home, be sure to use the Whole-House Systems Approach. That way, you can build in your savings right from the start.

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1. Make Sure You Insulate Properly

Adding on a room or even a floor to your existing home requires a lot of planning and preparation. Just make sure that you put insulation high on your list. Heating and cooling accounts for as much as half of the energy you use each year, so the right type, amount, and location of insulation is critical. Learn about R-values, moisture control, and air sealing. In fact, you might want to use this opportunity to add insulation to the rest of your home, since older homes often have less than the recommended amount.

2. Install High-Performance Glass

If you're remodeling an existing room or adding a completely new room, chances are that you'll be thinking about the view. So take the time to learn about energy performance ratings for windows, skylights, and sliding glass doors. Find out why you want a lower U-factor and SHGC rating as well as a higher VT and LSG rating. Check for the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) label. And be sure to contact an a professional for installation.

3. Upgrade to Energy-Saving Equipment

Whatever improvements you're thinking about doing, it pays to plan ahead. Properly installed exhaust fans with timers and humidity controls can save you money in your new kitchen or bathroom. A strategically located ceiling fan can make it cool enough in a family room so that you can turn your thermostat up a few degrees. And new faucet aerators, low-flow showerheads, and insulated water heaters can help you save on two of your utility bills — electricity and water.

4. Design the Outside of Your Home to Protect the Inside

If you're planning any outdoor remodeling, like adding a patio or barbeque area, think about ways that you can use landscaping to your advantage. In a hot climate, a vine-covered trellis or a properly placed evergreen tree can shade your windows all year round. In a cold climate, a deciduous tree can provide shade during the summer and — after it sheds its leaves — sunlight in the winter.

5. Use the Whole-House Systems Approach

If you've decided to go beyond remodeling and want to design a completely new home, you have the opportunity to actually build in energy-saving components. The best way to do this is with the Whole-House Systems Approach. It focuses on the interaction between you, your location, your climate, and other factors that affect your use of energy. Once you know the challenges, you can build in the solutions, and benefit from the results — saving not only money, but also the environment.