Before you upgrade, make these typical home energy improvements
Seal air leaks around floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, and any openings with caulking, spray foam, and/or weather stripping. Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a lot of your energy, which = money. The potential energy savings from reducing structure leakage may range from 2-5% to 20-30% a year. And the home or business is typically much more comfortable as well.
Add or replace insulation in the attic or crawl spaces. Exterior walls are important to consider in conjunction with air sealing to help keep your cool air in during the summer and warm air in during the winter. Increasing your structures R-value or insulation value is typically one of the fastest and most cost savings way to reduce energy waste.
Program or install programmable thermostats that save energy by automatically regulating your home or business’s temperature when you are home or away. Today’s programmable thermostats are not like they used to be. Think NEST with auto programming features that basically program themselves. You can potentially save as much as 10% a year on your cooling and heating bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours.
Ensure A/C ducts are sealed, are straight and properly connected. Many duct systems are not insulated properly, or worse yet have gaps or holes where air is leaking into your attic space. You can potentially lose up to 60% of your cooled and heated air before it reaches the space its intended for. Stop cooling or heating your uninsulated attic!
Heating and cooling uses more energy than any other system in your home — typically, 65% of a home utility bill. By combining proper equipment and regular maintenance with the appropriate insulation, air sealing and thermostat settings, you can cut your heating and cooling energy use for from 65% to 45% — or sometimes even as much as 20%!
Install an energy-efficient hot water heater, such as an energy-efficient tank water heater or an on-demand tankless water heater. Water heating is another large energy expense, typically accounting for roughly 10%-25% of your utility bill. Also consider putting your recirculation pump on a timer. Do you really need instant hot water at 3 a.m.?
Upgrade household appliances to ENERGY STAR products. Appliances are another large user of energy. Especially that 15-year-old clothes dryer that you never want to move again.
There is a lot to choose from these days, so start updating. If you change 5 to 10 a month, it will take no time to have them all changed out. One 100Watt incandescent bulb of yesteryears is equal to ten LEDs of comparable Lumens and light. Food for thought.
Install more energy efficient windows, doors, and skylights by looking for ENERGY STAR products. Usually this replacement has more to do with the installation than the window itself. And, yes … dual pane is better than single and triple pane is better than dual. It could be argued that window replacements are over prescribed, but when it’s 110 degrees outside, there is a difference. Just always be aware of the price.
Consider all your options for energy savings upgrades
Too often the improvements with potential large benefits aren’t always obvious. Air barrier, insulation and sealing may not be overly sexy, but they can make a significant impact and a better return on your investment than higher priced improvements such as new windows or a solar plus storage system. Therefore, it’s best to start with where and how you use energy and power. Then you have a sure-fire way to measure the small incremental upgrades you will be making.
Remember that regardless of your budget, home energy upgrades can always be an ongoing process that will improve the comfort and quality of your indoor environment. Becoming “Energy Efficient” will produce a savings in energy consumption and, ultimately, money.