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How to make your home more energy efficient this Earth Day

Making your home energy efficient
Posted at 5:00 AM, Apr 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-21 10:21:59-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mike Zerillo loves the charm of his family's old-school Waldo home. But with old-school charm comes old-home problems.

"It's from 1936. It's got quite a bit of character, but it's also got quite a bit of aging in some areas," Zerillo said.

So, Zerillo decided to schedule a home energy audit.

"They came in, they did some thermal imaging and had an opportunity to see where the air was essentially leaking out of our house, and then gave us a list of recommendations," he said.

Such recommendations include new windows, new siding, and insulation in the walls and attic.

Zerillo says the upgrades are already paying off.

"I recall after we had it done, it was in the middle of the night, and my wife and I looked at each other and we said, 'It's warm in here, we need to close the vent,' and I promise you that has never been uttered in our house before," Zerillo said.

Besides comfort, the benefits of making energy-efficient upgrades to a home include being more environmentally conscious and saving money.

"If you can lower the amount of energy that your home is burning, of course that's going to save on your utility bills," said Mary English, building performance program manager for Metropolitan Energy Center.

The Kansas City nonprofit specializes in teaching homeowners, building owners and transportation managers how to be more energy efficient. One tool they utilize is Project Living Proof, their demonstration home on Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard.

The home shows off the various projects homeowners can do to make their homes more efficient, from do-it-yourself options like sealing ductwork with tape to professional improvements, like insulation, solar-powered batteries and ventilation systems.

"When you go into a home that's been built really well and has a fresh air ventilation system, the air really does smell great," English said.

Some of the upgrades are not cheap, but the federal government is offering incentives to people to make the changes by offering an energy-efficient home improvement tax credit through the Inflation Reduction Act passed last year.

Some of the available credits include:

  • $150 for home energy audits
  • $500 for exterior doors
  • $600 for windows, air conditioners, electric panels, water heaters and furnaces
  • $2,000 for qualified heat pumps, biomass stoves or biomass boilers

Homeowners can apply for up to $3,200 credits per year until 2033.
For more information about home energy-efficient options, Metropolitan Energy Center is offering free group tours of its Project Living Proof house through the end of April.

Details are available on the group's website.