Last week’s blog addressed the ways energy efficiency implementation can improve the health of home or building occupants. This week moves on to another measure of savings that results from efficiency upgrades: MONEY!
An energy-efficient home will keep your family comfortable while easing financial strain. Whether you take small steps or opt for larger-scale investments to make your home more efficient, you’ll see lower energy bills. Over time, those savings will typically pay for the cost of improvements and put money back in your pocket. Your home may also be more attractive to buyers when you sell.
U.S. homes make up 5% of the world’s population, but collectively use an estimated 22.5% of the country’s energy. Most homes are full of efficiency robbers, which can include leaky windows or ducts, old appliances, or outdated and therefore inefficient heating and cooling systems.
When we waste energy in our homes, our utility bills increase to make up for the demand. The typical U.S. family spends at least $2,200 a year on home utility bills. Energy efficiency services can lower this amount drastically.
The key to these savings is to take a whole-house approach — by viewing your home as an energy system with many different working parts (think of that old song, “the knee bone’s connected to the…THIGH bone…). A perfect example of this connectivity is your heating system. Most people hear “heating system” and automatically picture a furnace. But the system is more than that: it only BEGINS at the furnace, and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts.
That leads to the next fun fact: even a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient furnace will waste a lot of fuel if the ducts, walls, attic, windows, and doors are leaky or poorly-insulated. Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest are spent wisely.
Energy audits are beneficial because an efficiency expert knows exactly where to focus within your structure. Ideally, your auditor is BPI- (Building Performance Institute) and RESNET- (Residential Energy Services Network) certified. Do your homework beforehand and ask for the auditor’s credentials before setting the appointment.
The audit will result in a comprehensive series of recommendations that will ultimately save maximum money.
If you’re not quite prepared to take the leap to scheduling an energy audit, at least consider the small steps that you can take yourself to save money.
Easy low- and no-cost ways to save energy
- Install a programmable thermostat to lower utility bills and manage your heating and cooling systems efficiently.
- Air-dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
- Turn electricity off within a room when you exit, such as lights, TVs, entertainment systems, and your computer and monitor.
- Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips and turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use – even TVs and DVDs being in standby mode use several watts of power.
- Lower the thermostat on your water heater to 120°F.
- Take short showers instead of baths, and use low-flow showerheads for additional energy savings.
- Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
- Air-dry clothes.
- Check to see that windows and doors are closed when heating or cooling your home.
- Drive sensibly; aggressive driving measures such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and hard braking waste fuel.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products. ENERGY STAR products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. (Source: www.energy.gov)
Any measures you take to ease the energy requirements within your home will save money. Make that first small step today! If you have any questions about the ways that you can transition your home to a more energy-efficient structure, or want to schedule an audit, give us a call at 417-612-7092.