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Committing to highly ambitious New Year’s resolutions may be as American as apple pie, but then so too is the tendency to call it quits before they’ve been realized, with nearly one in four of us jumping ship within the first week alone. So we’ve put together a list of resolutions that come with such a high return on your investment (ROI), even if you only hit one, you’ll be in pretty good shape.

Better yet, nearly all of these New Year’s resolutions come with rebates or tax credits via the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, so you really won’t have an excuse to not get started.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and high-ROI 2024!

1. Lower Cost, Good ROI: Smart Thermostats

If you’re anything like the average U.S. household, nearly half of your annual home energy expenditures go toward heating and cooling, which nets out to more than $900 each year. What if you could pay less in the year ahead?

One simple solution may help you do so: installing a smart thermostat.

But what do these smart thermostats even do, exactly? Like most of today’s latest-and-greatest smart home tech, smart thermostats bridge the physical and digital, enabling you to do more than just, say, adjust the temperature in your house. Instead, these thermostats use your input and preferences as a starting point, then automate and optimize your home’s energy settings from there, with the goal of striking an ideal balance between sustainability, on the one hand, and comfort, on the other.

Just be sure to pick up a model that has earned the ENERGY STAR® label: These smart thermostats are powered by algorithms based on 12 months or more of real-world energy-usage data in similar homes, for starters. Rigorously and independently certified and tested, these models must be able to demonstrate efficacy regardless of climate, too. Finally, studies show that these smart thermostats — and these smart thermostats alone — reduce household energy bills by around 8% on average. Adopted at scale, what’s more, smart thermostats might curb U.S. carbon emissions by as much as 18 billion pounds annually.

So getting a new, smart thermostat for your home in the new year is a smart move for many reasons. It’s also easy to do, and local utilities may even offer rebates when you buy (check Green Door for those). Note that in some cases, depending on how your heating and cooling systems are wired, you may need to have a qualified electrician on hand.

Related Post: Are “Smart Homes” High-Performing Homes?

2. Medium Cost, Great ROI: Attic Insulation and Air Sealing

Best-in-class insulation for attics is a key ingredient of most high-performing homes, for reasons that are fairly straightforward to explain.

As you probably remember from high school science class, heat moves from warmer to cooler areas, which can result in warm air escaping through un- or under-insulated areas in your home. During the warmer months, the opposite is true, with equally undesirable results: Hot air streams in through gaps in your insulation, thereby pushing cold air out of your home, decreasing the efficacy of air conditioners and increasing home energy costs in turn.

Both scenarios can result in needlessly high energy bills, which is why, according to the EPA, you stand to save 15% on heating and cooling costs — or around 11% on overall energy costs — by adding insulation and air sealing your home. This is also one of the reasons why, within our scoring system at Pearl, attic insulation earns a relatively high number of points toward a Silver, Gold, or Platinum Pearl Certification — it’s an investment you ideally make once that has a huge impact for years to come. Plus, you can save on installation costs with rebates and tax credits under the IRA and other programs.

Before jumping into action, it might be a good idea to quickly learn a little bit more about the different types of attic insulation materials currently available, as well as how energy efficiency is measured for each, since you’ll have several options to choose from. It’s a great way to prepare for a conversation with a Pearl Network Contractor who has expertise implementing home performance upgrades.

Related Post: Second Step to a High-Performing Home: Air Sealing

3. Higher Cost, Excellent ROI: Energy-Efficient Windows

After making initial headway with the addition of smart thermostats and attic insulation, the next logical step is window replacements. After all, these investments further insulate your building shell and provide a level of protection from extreme weather events. They can also pay for themselves rather quickly.

Research shows, for example, that replacing old, drafty windows with ENERGY STAR-certified windows can help your home save considerable energy and money — windows can account for up to 30% of home heating and cooling energy usage, after all. At the same time, doing so should help make your home significantly more comfortable to inhabit year-round. Purely from a financial standpoint, this simple step has been shown to lower household energy bills by an average of 12%.

While you’re at it, just be sure to dial in to the specific needs of your home. And be sure to look for rebates and tax credits in Green Door — there’s opportunity to save significantly, particularly if you’re ordering at volume.

Related Post: Pearl’s Guide to Energy-Efficient Windows

4. Higher Cost, Excellent ROI: Home Solar

Why invest in home solar right now? The ROI of doing so has been extensively documented and studied, for one thing. The key takeaway? Adding home solar typically leads to reductions in energy bills ranging from 40% to 70%, with the overall investment usually paying for itself within 10 years. In more black-and-white terms, homes with solar-energy systems sell for 4.1% more on average than comparable homes without solar power, translating to an additional $9,274 at time of sale for median-value home listings. Plus, you should be able to recoup up to 30% of the installation costs through the Inflation Reduction Act tax credits.

Don’t think you live in an area where there’s sufficient sunshine to justify the initial investment in, say, a photovoltaic (PV) array for your home? You might be surprised. Chicago, for example, might not be the first city you associate with blue skies and sunlight, but it actually benefits from nearly the same number of productive days for solar energy generation annually as cities in Florida, which is why it ranks as the city with the second-most solar power potential in the entire Midwest. Don’t let geography deter you, in other words. Do some research first.

Finally, use the Green Door app to identify a local solar Pearl Network Contractor to help you calculate potential cost savings and arrive at the right budget. Only Pearl Network Contractors can use the Pearl Solar Equity Calculator® to calculate a 20-year discounted cash flow using certified contractor data, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) software, and Freddie Mac’s 30-year mortgage rate. With the report you’ll better understand the cost, savings, and value of your solar investment.

Related Post: Solar Energy: How to Get Started, Confidently

5. Higher Cost, Excellent ROI Resolution: Electric Vehicles

The future of U.S. transportation is, in many respects, already here in the form of electric vehicles (EVs), with huge implications for not only the future of greenhouse gas emissions but the health and well-being of your pocketbook in the present day.

For starters, consider the near-term gains: Going anywhere in an EV costs as little as $0.84 per gallon-equivalent, which is fully 66% less than the $2.50-per-gallon average you would expect to pay in a carbon-emitting alternative. So every journey should confer some measure of cost savings in your new vehicle — and by putting the “EV” in “every,” you’ll be helping to offset the cost of that investment right off the bat.

Better yet, you can get even more mileage for your money if you take advantage of the IRA’s existing cost incentives, which extend to both EVs and home charging stations.

Of course, not everyone will be realistically in the market for a vehicle upgrade in 2024, which is why we saved this sustainability investment for last. Still, you shouldn’t overlook the potential upside of doing so down the road. It’s the one performance upgrade that has the power to literally take you to new places each and every day — and to transform your experience of transport in the year ahead, too.

Related Post: The Green Door Guide to EV Charging Station Rebates and Tax Credits

Next Steps for the New Year

Improving your home’s energy efficiency, shrinking your overall carbon footprint, and realizing significant cost savings over the near and long term are attainable resolutions for every homeowner in 2024 — especially as states roll out their IRA rebates programs. Just be sure to take it one step at a time and to prioritize projects based on your financial goals. That’ll better position you for success, shorten your timeline to impact, and ensure you see the expected ROI.

We also recommend downloading Green Door, the free app from Pearl Certification, for help getting started, since it comes with tools and resources that should make it easier for you to navigate this journey at every stage. For example, you can use it to develop a customized Pearl Home Investment PlanTM that reflects your unique goals and needs, maximize IRA-related savings with Green Door's Rebates Finder, identify and connect with qualified contractors in your area, document or track your home’s increasing resale value, and a whole lot more.

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