Infographic: Home Improvements that Pay You Back

posted by Shannon on October 12th, 2011

Infographic: Home Improvements That Pay You Back

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 paying 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

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20 Responses to “Infographic: Home Improvements that Pay You Back”

  1. Robert Campbell Deeks says:

    These are all very good recommendations many of which we have used in our own projects.

  2. Amy Zimmerman says:

    I am assuming the $700 price per window is per installed window? That can’t be or the whole house!

  3. Zhifei Ge says:

    It seems that programmable thermostat is the most cost-effective.

  4. Brigette Collings says:

    Really good for all those people that think going green is too expensive.

  5. Will Scott says:

    One of the things I love about this infographic is the ability to compare payback periods. One of the challenges of Solar is the payback period is so long and the elements of the system are so likely to be improved in the near future. It feels like investing in obsolescence. A programmable thermostat however seems like no-brainer.

  6. Warren Cree says:

    Interesting information on why it pays to have a green home

  7. Chris Stratton says:

    Generally good, but…your house has no attic insulation. Payback/savings comparable to duct sealing. Attic insulation is usually more cost effective than wall insulation if you have neither. Also, emphasize air sealing, not just insulation.

    Also, water filtration system?!? Who the hell buys bottled water any more? Drink from the tap and spend that time and energy saved making sure your local water utility is doing its job. We can’t have only rich people who can afford fancy filtration systems drinking clean water.

  8. NikiandShaun MacKenzie says:

    I like the ideas – we just put solar panels on our home in Florida. But cost savings on these is overzealous. Our 5kW system is only expected to make $750 a year in sunny florida. I only spend about $1,600 a year on electricity but they have ideas on how to “save” me 8,390. Definitely only pick one or two that suit you and will benefit your family.

  9. Graham Whiting says:

    This infographic’s numbers are seriously flawed. I posted an extensive comment on a few of the errors on Jetson Green, where the graphic was subsequently removed. The cost of SHW is closer to $7000, not $2500. Replacing windows is hardly ever more efficient than insulating walls and roofs, with a payback in the 25-50 year range, not 2.3. And the whole house water filter saving you $312 a year is ridiculous. Have somebody familiar with retrofit energy modelling review your numbers and re-do the graphic, because it is otherwise a great means of communication.

  10. Japhet Koteen says:

    Yeah. . . this thing looks like a load of hoooey . the costs and savings don’t see to be based on anything like real numbers.

  11. David Schapira says:

    Another green home product that easily pays for itself (based on realistic numbers), is Rubber Mulch. Costs a little more upfront, but you don’t have to re-apply every year, so after a few years, you’re saving money. Best site I’ve found for it:

  12. Elías Alonzo says:

    Very nice…

  13. Ben Barclay says:

    Reep Green Solutions’ Green Home Planner will give you accurate numbers for all of these and more, and its free.

  14. Susie Wilkening says:

    I agree overzealous. The windows seem way off as it would cost about $300/window to install (so a typical house might have 20 windows . . . $6000?). That payback would be 20 years (which is, BTW, when replacement windows are designed to fail, never mind the embodied energy of existing windows, so a net energy loss – not green at all but a total waste of resources). Far different than 2.3 years.

    Unless they mean savings of $300/window/year. Take the same house and they are paying $6000+/year in utility costs? Even here in the cold NE, we don’t pay anything like that. And we have 30 windows in our house!

  15. [...] that far outperforms CDs, savings accounts, and the stock market. This Infographic done with 1Bog by Columnfivemedia, shows which home improvements have the highest rate of [...]

  16. [...] Home Improvements that Pay You Back this entry has 0 Comments/ in Digital Media Tips / by admin/#permalink October 19, [...]

  17. Usually I don’t learn post on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very compelled me to try and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very great post.

  18. Riyamathur says:

    Solar energy is best form of natural energy available in abundant, Making use of it definitely is worth, We have put up solar water heaters at home. Also to add I use electric car to save fuel, Go green !!

  19. [...] Calculating the math can be dry, but here’s an infographic from solar consulting service One Block Off the Grid that presents the numbers in an easy-to-understand breakdown: how much you’ll save each year, [...]

  20. Those are substantial savings that you have displayed here. 6 % is a nice amount to put back in your pocket in a years time. Using solar energy has so many advantages, and not to mention going green saves green. This is a great check list to review and compare to my current living situation.

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