Housing surveys indicate that saving money is one of the top reasons people seek energy improvements for their homes. Many homeowners are also interested in lowering their carbon footprint to reduce impact on the environment. With good planning, you can achieve both as well as a more comfortable, durable and healthy home!
What’s the Problem?
There can be many reasons for energy waste and discomfort in a home:
- Faulty construction of the walls, roof, and foundation
- Malfunctioning or poor quality heating/cooling equipment, windows and doors
- Inefficient or poor quality lighting, appliances, and electronics
- Poor personal behaviors or lack of knowledge
- Insufficient air sealing and insulation
Solving the Problem
Start with just doing 5 of the easy steps listed here can make a big difference for you, the community and the planet:
- Upgrade to a programmable thermostat that is easy to use.
- Switch from energy wasting incandescent bulbs to CFL or LED.
- Use lighting controls such as timers, dimmer switches, and occupancy sensors.
- Put bath fans on timer switches.
- Replace kitchen and laundry appliances with Energy Star appliances.
- Get rid of the old refrigerator in the garage or basement. If you REALLY need one, buy a new no frills Energy Star unit that will pay for itself in energy savings in just a few years. Your electric utility may even pay you to take the old fridge off your hands.
- Use smart surge strips on TV/Entertainment systems and computer systems.
- Use WaterSense low flow shower heads and faucets
- Set the hot water temp to a maximum 120 degrees.
- Don’t buy a hot tub or whirlpool. The novelty wears off after a year and it just wastes energy.
- Install a rain sensor or soil moisture sensor on lawn irrigation equipment.
- Replace sprinkler heads with water efficient heads that use up to 30% less water.
- Weather-strip around doors.
- Use foam or caulk to seal any air gaps between windows/doors and the walls, around plumbing pipes and vents in attics, between recessed lights/bathroom fans and ceilings, and between the sill plate and foundation wall in the basement.
If you want to take a deeper look into saving money and lowering your carbon footprint, enlist the help of a Certified Energy Professional. She will conduct a home performance assessment (energy audit) that includes; reviewing energy bills, diagnostic testing, and a visual inspection looking for energy waste. The resulting Scope of Work recommends prioritized solutions. She can also calculate the current and projected carbon footprint based on the suggested energy improvements.
If you are planning a large project such as a kitchen remodel, re-siding, or replacing heating equipment be sure to incorporate her recommendations. It’s the perfect opportunity to make your home more energy efficient at the lowest cost.
Finally, talk to the Certified Energy Professional about tax credits, rebates, connections to low-interest energy loans, and free products (low-flow shower heads, CFL bulbs, weather stripping). These incentives are another way to keep money in your pocket.
- Read the Most Important Step
- Enlist the help of a Certified Energy Professional
- Incorporate the Scope of Work into remodeling design and specifications
- Review additional resources to build your confidence:
- Choose the right light bulbs
- Energy Star Products and more
- Save water! - WaterSense information
- Home Performance Contractor
- Minnesota Department of Commerce Home Energy Guide
- More Than A Beautiful Home