How To Plan Residence Power Upgrades Based mostly on an Power Audit
Did you know that households and businesses use 40 percent of all energy in the US? Does your house have high energy costs, cold floors or drafts? In this case, an energy audit at home is the first step towards improving living comfort, lowering your energy costs and reducing your carbon footprint.
An auditor can determine if poor insulation, leaky windows, or gaps and cracks in the exterior of the home are the main culprits. If your home is having energy efficiency issues, an auditor can often pinpoint the root cause. Energy efficiency experts can use a fan door test, infrared cameras, and duct leak test to tailor the best energy saving recommendations for your home.
Some home energy upgrades can be done as a DIY weekend project with limited skills, while others are more difficult to complete. Some upgrades may qualify for zero percent financing, so in some cases the energy savings outweigh the loan payments. Many of the tips in the Advanced Energy Efficient Upgrades section may be eligible for funding. Let’s take a look at some of the top recommendations for reducing your home’s energy use and carbon footprint.
Simplest energy saving projects
Install energy efficient lightbulbs
If you still use incandescent or halogen bulbs in your home, it is important to replace them. The highly efficient light bulbs can pay for themselves in just one year through energy savings. Check if there are any incentives in your area. You may get discounted or free LED or compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs.
Eco tip: The cost of LEDs has dropped significantly in recent years, but they are often still more expensive than CFLs. They also last longer and use less power, making LEDs a greener option overall.
Maintain your heating and cooling system
Did you know that an average of 43 percent of your energy costs are for heating and cooling? Maintaining your HVAC system at least every year is a great way to keep it running at maximum performance and avoid costly repairs. Also, be sure to replace your oven filters as recommended so that the air flows properly through the system.
Eco tip: Purchase a reusable oven filter and clean it regularly to ensure proper filtration.
Install a water-saving shower head
On average, water heating accounts for 18 percent of your energy costs. Installing a water-saving shower head is a great way to save water and energy. If possible, wash the laundry in cold water.
Cross type: To save the most water and energy, install a shower head that uses 1.5 gallons per minute (GPM).
Install a programmable thermostat
With programmable thermostats you can set the optimal values for each day of the week. The system then adapts automatically. Some models allow you to make adjustments through an app or website. These devices save energy and increase living comfort, as they adapt your home to the programmed temperature at the specified time. Once programmed, there is no need to make any manual changes. Don’t forget to turn down the heat at night or on vacation.
Eco tip: Install a smart thermostat if you are likely to use the remote features for greater energy savings.
More complex energy-saving upgrades
Seal leaking lines
Leaking pipes are another common cause of high energy costs. Gaps in the ducts allow conditioned air to escape into non-air conditioned rooms and your heating and cooling system will work harder to compensate for this. The best way to determine the condition of your piping is to do a leak test. Unfortunately, in many households, the line is usually difficult to access. Therefore, systems were developed that seal the lines from the inside. There are also methods of sealing leaking pipes with putty or tape if the pipes are accessible.
Eco tip: Use non-toxic water-based products when sealing the ducts from the inside.
Insulate the attic and seal it airtight
As hot air rises, a lot of conditioned air can escape through your attic if it’s not properly sealed and insulated. Unfortunately, due to time, water, or bugs, the insulation breaks down making it less effective. An infrared camera can help identify insulation gaps, and a blower door test can help locate gaps and cracks in the exterior. A home energy auditor can perform these tests for you.
The US Department of Energy has specific recommendations for insulation ratings by location. Insulating the attic is also a good opportunity to make it airtight as it saves energy, increases living comfort and keeps living things away. While you’re at it, air seal the basement or crawl space for the greatest impact.
Eco tip: Whenever possible, use insulation made from recycled content and non-toxic materials, and avoid fiberglass insulation and certain types of foam insulation that use propellants with strong greenhouse gases.
Advanced energy-saving upgrades
Replace inefficient heating and cooling equipment
The energy efficiency of HVAC systems has improved significantly in recent years. According to Energy Star, you can save 30 percent on cooling costs by replacing an air conditioner that is more than 12 years old. Some homeowners are replacing inefficient equipment while others are waiting for the system to fail first.
Eco tip: Install a highly efficient heating and cooling system with a variable speed motor.
Replace old windows and doors
While this can help reduce drafts and improve overall energy efficiency, replacing windows and doors is often not a top recommendation when considering costs and estimated energy savings. In some cases the addition of weatherproof, waterproofing, and warm window treatments is sufficient. If you have older single pane windows and live in a cold climate, it may be worthwhile to replace windows just to save energy. Installing new windows can also help ventilate the house if the windows are easier to open.
Eco tip: Install windows with low toxicity and high thermal integrity.
Replace inefficient water heaters
If you have an inefficient electric water heater, it might be worth replacing for the energy savings alone. Many water heaters have an estimated energy consumption label. Determine your annual savings to decide whether it is worth upgrading the water heater.
Eco tip: For greater energy savings on water heaters, consider upgrading to a hybrid or tankless model.
Replace inefficient refrigerators
If your refrigerator was manufactured before 2001 it might be worth replacing. If your refrigerator is classified as antique, it is definitely worth replacing for energy reasons alone. With a kill-o-watt meter, you can determine how much power your refrigerator is using and whether it is worth replacing for reasons of energy saving alone.
Eco tip: Install an Energy Star certified refrigerator and recycle your old refrigerator.
Buy a front loading washing machine
If you have an old top loading washing machine it may be worth replacing. Front loading washing machines save water and are known to perform better than their top loading washers.
Cross type: Install an Energy Star certified washing machine as it uses 25 percent less energy and 33 percent less water.
Download the guide
Click the image below to view our printable guide to energy improvements at home.
This article was originally published on March 4, 2019.