You’re a homeowner that understands energy efficiency updates to your home will pay off in the long run.
But you’re not independently wealthy.
Which means you have to prioritize energy efficiency projects to invest in first – you can’t afford them all at once.
You’re down to two major projects: new windows or new insulation.
Most Michigan utilities offer rebates for updating both windows and insulation. So what should you do first to maximize energy efficiency and return on investment?
Glad you asked.
New insulation, according to the energy efficiency pyramid.
The 10-level pyramid, a spinoff of the popular food pyramid, offers graphical guidance to homeowners searching for energy efficiency improvements to lower their energy bills.
“Homeowners who are uncertain of the best way to lower their energy bills should start at the lowest level of the pyramid and work their way up,” the Green Building Advisor writes. “Actions near the bottom of the pyramid are much more cost-effective than actions near the top of the pyramid.”
Using this model, air seal and insulation are in the fourth level while windows are in the ninth level. This suggests new insulation should be completed before new windows for energy savings and return on investment.
In other words, new insulation is less complex and less expensive, offering a better return on investment.
The best part about foam insulation is that it works as both an air seal and an insulator, which means it’s basically the ultimate energy efficiency project.
Therefore, when the decision is between new windows or insulation, it is typically best to start with new insulation.
Or, as John Lippert writes, “start at the bottom and work your way up the pyramid, as time and finances allow.”