By Charlie Popeck, LEED AP
Ready to reduce your home’s energy costs? Charlie suggests 16 energy-saving strategies that can also make your home more comfortable and sustainable.
It’s evident that energy costs are not going down anytime soon. In fact, as gasoline prices continue to set record highs, any energy-related lifestyle improvements we make today will produce big dividends in the months and years ahead.
The current trend in big thing now is to save money in your home is to hire an energy audit company to find ways to save you energy and money. There are specific items that the audit will reveal about your home. Instead of explaining the audit process, why don’t we get right to the recommendations that might derive out of an audit, and you can get started on your DIYs and saving energy and money.
Please note that as you read over the energy-saving strategies, you need to view your home from a holistic perspective rather than as a collection of separate systems and components. Each suggested strategy should be considered in relation to how well it will work with or against other strategies to ensure the exponential benefits a whole-building approach can provide.
Seal all cracks and crevices inside and out. Use expandable foam sealant products around doors and windows, then finish off with the best quality caulking you can find. Make sure all products are low in volatile organic compound (VOC).. .
Weatherstrip doors and windows – especially at the door threshold.
Install additional insulation in the attic. Consider installing insulation in the rafters instead of ceiling joists. If your mechanical equipment is located in the attic, creating this semi-conditioned space will greatly improve your home’s energy performance.
Install ceiling fans to reduce the need for heating and air conditioning.
Window film, blinds or coverings will lessen solar heat gain.
Install compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) which save about 50 percent energy over standard bulbs. Many utility companies offer incentives to replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs, so it’s worth a phone call to see what your local utility offers.
Install a breather vent in your laundry room. This will allow your dryer to pull in outside air for drying your clothes instead of drawing in air you’ve just paid to heat or cool.
For your water heater: Lower the thermostat, install a timer to avoid heating water at night or during on-peak hours, wrap your water heater in an insulating blanket, install a hot-water recirculating pump, upgrade to a tankless water heater, or install a point-of-use water heater in the kitchen (if the kitchen sink is located far from the water heater).
Seal your attic access. You can buy a seal kit at most hardware stores that will fit neatly over your attic opening.
Utilize landscape elements like deciduous trees and plants for shading.
Incorporate other shading devices like awnings, light shelves and extra-large overhangs which will keep the hot summer sun from striking your windows and envelope, but may be more expensive than other options.
Patio covers will also keep the sun from striking your home. In addition, they will provide an outdoor living space to make a home seem larger than it actually is — a great green building concept!
Landscape lighting can be converted to low voltage, some fixtures can be eliminated or all exterior lighting can be switched to solar fixtures. They are easy to install, low in maintenance requirements and eliminate all electricity costs.
Since it’s not unusual for your pool pump to use more electricity than all of your other appliances in the home combined, consider replacing your energy-hungry pool pump motor with an energy-efficient pool pump. The IntelliFlo VS-3050, made by Pentair (www.pentairpool.com) can save more than 90 percent on pool filtering costs due to its efficient design, which could save you more than $100 per month! Also, be sure to only run your pool pump during off-peak hours.
Sign up for your utility company’s time-of-use plan and stick with it.
Other energy-efficient pool strategies include solar heating, and pool/spa covers.
There you go 25 green ideas you can use to lower your energy costs now! My advice is to develop an overall energy savings program and start with the strategies that will give you the most bang for your energy-efficiency buck. As more money becomes available through energy savings, consider working down the list. In a short time, you’ll have greatly reduced energy costs, reduced your home’s environmental footprint and improved the value of your home.
Charlie Popeck is the president of Green Ideas Sustainability Consultants and is a contributor to Green Living Magazine. Green Ideas specializes in helping design, construction and facility management teams understand and implement building science and sustainability into their projects. He can be reached at Charlie@Egreenideas.com.
Find more of Charlie’s energy-savings tips at greenlivingaz.com.
18 Energy-Saving Strategies:
1. Install a programmable digital thermostat.
2. Seal interior ductwork with duct mastic / tape.
3. Close vents in unused rooms.
4. Change your HVAC filters regularly.
5. Insulate your home’s hot water pipes.
6. Use solar ovens and outdoor barbecues.
7. Hang clothes out to dry rather than throwing them in the dryer.
8. Open windows for natural ventilation when appropriate.
9. Use portable fans for localized cooling.
10. Make sure your air conditioner’s refrigerant is fully charged.
11. Vacancy sensors
13. Interior lighting controls
14. Reflective roof coatings
15. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels
16. Wind turbines
17. Replace appliances with Energy Star-rated units
18. Energy-efficient lighting