DIY & PRO Energy Improvements
DIY ENERGY IMPROVEMENTS
Attic Fans and Ventilation Mold causes serious health problems, so proper ventilation is critical.
Programmable Thermostat The Department of Energy reports homeowners can reduce utility bills up to 20% by varying temperatures during off peak hours.
Appliances Energy Star appliances lower the cost of operating these machines with timers set to off peak usage. Discard the old “back-up” fridge that costs $50-150 per year to run. If needed, replace it with an Energy Star fridge that costs half as much to run. Note that a model with the freezer on top has less usable space and requires 25% more energy than a side-by-side.
Water Conservation Pumping and heating water is costlier than most people realize. Lower the expense and conserve this precious commodity by monitoring how it gets used.
Lights The cost to run an incandescent bulb is far greater than the bulb itself. Energy efficient bulbs cost more to buy but less to use, and are a simple upgrade that everyone can make. Start by replacing the 60 and 100 watt bulbs that get the most use.
Landscape A house with upgraded insulation and windows is a sealed shell. Without these energy efficient systems, planting deciduous trees to provide shade from the west will help block infrared radiation in summer and permit warming in winter.
Hot Water Install low-flow shower and bath fixtures. Set water temperature to 120°F. Insulate the lines to keep heater water from cooling too fast. On-demand hot water circulating loops pump heated water faster, and is highly effective in conjunction with low-flow fixtures. Activated when a tap is opened, it shuts off when hot water reaches the tap.
PRO ENERGY IMPROVEMENTS
Doors Weather stripping an old door certainly helps, but for the most noticeable impact choose an Energy Star thermal door and enjoy the added curb appeal.
Windows Add comfort and beauty to your house with energy efficient windows for instant and lasting gratification.
Insulation The correct type and proper installation of insulation slows the rate of heat escaping in winter and penetrating the house in summer. An attic with old insulation makes the house much more expensive to heat and cool. Conventional stud walls are continuous cavities, and blown-in insulation saves so much energy that it doesn’t make sense not to have it. An energy audit locates air leaks in unseen and inaccessible areas, and an energy expert knows the best type of material and installation method needed.
Furnace Standing pilot units built before 1992 waste one-third of the fuel used. Replacing it with a condensing unit rated for 90% efficiency per year lowers your fuel bill by 25%. Maintain that efficiency with annual service. A house with a boiler and hot water distributors such as baseboards and radiators benefits greatly from a condensing boiler with feedback controls or outdoor reset because the condensing unit can reduce circulating loop temperature.