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March 17, 2016

There's understandably a lot of excitement about photovoltaics, solar water heaters, geothermal heat pumps and other sources of renewable energy for the home. We all want to be self-sufficient. It's part of our national psyche. And, particularly for the environmentally motivated among us, the desire to reduce our dependence on traditional energy sources is strong.

But when looking at potential energy upgrades for your home, you should keep in mind a few important considerations:

1) Energy Efficiency is about more than electricity. For cold climate North American homes, the biggest source of energy consumption is space heating; space heating, in turn, is largely fueled by oil and natural gas. Barring a wholesale conversion to a electric heat (which may be expensive), photovoltaics will do nothing to reduce the amount of oil and gas that your home consumes.

2) Should you decide to invest in renewables, the scale of your investment will depend on the amount of energy your home consumes. If you can cut your home's energy consumption in half through simple, low-cost measures, and thus reduce the investment necessary to take your home to net zero in half (think: 1 solar panel vs. 2), you've made a good investment.

3) Return on investment. Air sealing might be a $1,000 dollar investment upfront, and could save you $500 or more per year, which would give you a 2-year ROI. A wind turbine in your back yard, on the other hand, might cost somewhere in the ballpark of $15,000-$20,000. That would take a while to pay itself off.

4) Energy Efficiency is about more than energy efficiency. Done right, sealing air leaks and upgrading your insulation are both measures that have a high ROI, will reduce your carbon footprint, and will reduce your energy bills. But they will also reduce drafts, make your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, and potentially increase the health and longevity of your house. That's a lot of bang for your buck. So if installing renewable energy sources at your house doesn't have quite the same impact, we won't hold it against renewables: it's a tall order to fill.

What Our Customers Are Saying

  • I would like to express how grateful to each and everyone of you for helping make my house warmer for the winter months, its because of you I was able to have insulation and seal areas of my home that wouldn't get done. Thank you!
    Wendy, Wareham, MA
  • Initially hiring Efficient Buildings for some insulation work, we were so impressed by their efficiency, expertise and depth of knowledge that we went on to hire him for a large addition.

  • Your technicians made a scheduled appointment at our house this past Tuesday to complete a work order. We wish to commend you for hiring such competent individuals. They were knowledgeable, personable, task-oriented and totally honest and reliable.

    Melvyn, Plymouth, MA
  • I hired Efficient Buildings to do some insulation work at my house, as I had heard that attic insulation was one of the best ways to cut heating costs, and Efficient Buildings came highly recommended from a friend.

    James Chase, Bridgewater, MA
  • I wanted to tell you how great a job the installers did putting in my attic insulation. My AC has been out for a few days and the insulation has kept the temperature down. Usually a second story would be boiling, but the men did such a great job that I was able to stay here. 
    Diane, Osterville, MA
  • I wanted to drop you a line and tell you how pleased we were with the crew and the fine job they did at my home today.

    George Foley, Bridgewater, MA
  • Hello, this is Marty from Marlborough. I just wanted to thank all the crew for a job well done. Also I was so impressed by the very kind well mannered behavior of the men. It's nice to know there are still nice people out there.

    Marty Silvia, Marlborough, MA
  • After conducting a thorough and (extremely) informative energy audit, Efficient Buildings assessed that the most cost-effective improvements I could make would be some simple air sealing and improved attic insulation -- they didn't try to sell any expensive windows or talk me into having work... Read More

    Ryan Weymouth, Bridgewater, MA
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