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Home Energy Efficiency Tips that Every Homeowner should Follow

You probably know about that little thing called global warming. While one person alone cannot pull the weight that needs to be pulled in order to lower our footprint on the earth, learning about energy efficiency and incorporating it into your decisions, as well as telling others about it, will still have a significant impact. Especially if this blog can manage to inspire others to lower their footprint too. We therefore highly encourage you to share it with others through whatever medium possible.

Doing an effort to save electricity can make a difference.

What is Energy Efficiency?

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Energy efficiency basically means that you are using less energy using one device than another device would. An example of this is to use energy efficient light bulbs. Did you know that about 5% of your electricity consumption is used simply on lighting?

Another example that would make your house more energy efficient is by insulating it, which in turn also will lower your energy bill too, as you’ll be using less energy heating and cooling it.

Improving energy efficiency is one of the policy goals of governments around the world, as we are realizing the importance of changing our habits and energy consumption.

Did you know that 30% of electricity is spent heating or cooling buildings? Imagine if we could ensure that our buildings leaked less.

As the video shows us, energy efficiency has actually had a larger impact than the development of renewable energy sources. It does not mean that we should not be seeking out renewable energy sources, it simply goes to show how improved processes can help us cut our energy consumption.

It’s important to note the difference between energy efficiency and energy conservation. Energy conservation refers to using less energy in general, while energy efficiency refers to improving a process and still using it, however now that process simply uses less energy than it use to. If you choose to walk somewhere rather than drive, or be conscious about turning down the heat when you are at work, these practices are in fact energy conserving, as you are now not using different devices that you would have otherwise used.

A lot of the appliances that are bought today are a lot more energy efficient than the ones that were produced 20 years ago, including boilers.

When you’re buying appliances, you will often notice that the ones that are energy efficient are more expensive, but if you are replacing a refrigerator that is more than 12 years old, the new one you will be buying uses less than half the amount of energy as the old one, and that is where you get the savings from over time, making it a worthwhile investment. In 16 years of development in energy efficiency, we would have used 12% more energy if it wasn’t for those improvements.

To truly get the savings, it’s important that you buy just as big as needed. What this means is that you will only really feel the savings if you’re not getting a lot of capacity you’re not using. It also means that if you have a spare refrigerator or freezer that you use on occasion, you should remember to turn it off as soon as you’re not using it anymore. In fact, in most homes refrigerators consume almost as much electricity as the air conditioning system (13.7% vs 14.1% of the total electricity consumption).

Did you know you can save $274 per year by turning off the light? Click To Tweet

By weatherizing your home, an average family will save $400 per year, which is pretty significant. Obviously, the less energy efficient your home is, the higher the initial savings will be by introducing some of the initiatives we will be talking about.

Benefits of Being Energy Efficient

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There are a lot of benefits from increasing energy efficiency. And I truly mean a lot.

Not only will a properly insulated home with an efficient HVAC system keep the house the temperature you like, it will also allow you to save a lot of money each and every single year. For example, you can save 10% on your heating and cooling bill by turning back the thermostat 7°-10°F while you are at work, and if you do the same while you are sleeping, you’ll be saving even more.

There are also air quality issues that will be significantly improved by making sure your home is more energy efficient. You don’t want the indoor humidity going above 50% as it will lead to airborne diseases getting a lot harder to control.

Making your home more energy efficient also increases the value of your home too.

With the constant development of better processes, we are able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly, which in turn will mean we’ll all be living on a healthier planet too.

By increasing energy efficiency, we also become less reliant on foreign energy sources, which in turn improves national security, and hopefully we’ll become less and less dependent on oil which in less vulnerable if the price of oil increases to the levels it was at in 2008.

You can earn a great return on investment from making these upgrades to your home, and protect yourself against rising electricity prices too.

If you are a business, being energy efficient can also help your company’s brand with consumers and the public as well as have health benefits for the employees.

Investing in energy efficiency could lower greenhouse gasses by up to 1.1 giga-tons anually. Click To Tweet

What are Energy Efficiency Tier Ratings

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One type of energy efficiency rating that you need to know about is CEE tiers, and the best that can be achieved is the Advanced Tier. Go to CEE’s website and check out their different specifications for boilers, heat pumps, water heaters, air conditioners and more. If for example you choose a commercial boiler, you will get a lot of options to choose the brand, where you can see that I chose Bosch beneath.

Did you know that getting energy efficient appliances may make you eligible to receive rebates? Different states have different rules, but check out the rebates in Vermont, where you can see they give $40 rebates for CEE tier 1 refrigerators and $75 for tier 3.

This is what it looks like when you go to the website to search for commercial boilers.

CEE website search

And here is what it looks like when we searched for Bosch. You will want to look at the combustion efficiency, which is how well fuel is being burned in the combustion process, as well as the thermal efficiency. The higher those numbers, the more efficient the appliance is.

CEE website search result

The higher the CEE tier of the appliances, the more efficient it is. CEE Tier 3 are 20% more efficient than the federal standard, while Tier 2 is 15% more efficient than the federal standard.

Go to energy.gov or dsire to find out which kinds of rebates are offered in your state.

Check out this video for more inspiration on saving electricity.

Home Improvements

There are a lot of home improvements you can make in order to increase the energy efficiency of your home, but before that happens, you need to get a home energy audit done by a professional who will let you know where you are currently wasting electricity, to also give you a better idea of the possibilities for improvements.

The pro will bring all his equipment that includes an infrared camera, a blower door and other tools to measure various aspects of efficiency.

Once you’ve had the energy audit done, it’s time to start with the home improvements. One of the biggest sinners is air leaks that will drive up your heating bill. If you have a leak in the roof, you will not only want to get it fixed as it makes your home leak air, but it will also let in water, which can damage your home if not dealt with. The leaks will often happen around the doors as well as windows but are not limited to it.

You need to also consider the insulation of your home. Actually, a study estimated that 90% of existing homes are under insulated, and if all homes were insulated with the IECC standard, it would have such a dramatic effect that residential electricity use would drop by 5% as well as gas dropping by a whooping 10%.

The ducts in your home are the ones leading hot or cold air to the parts of the home that they need to go to, but if they aren’t insulated properly, they will leak a lot. One thing is not being properly insulated, but they can also start leaking, and this should be addressed.

Don’t have a programmable thermostat at home? They not only save money, they make sure you’re spending less time adjusting the thermostat, and with heating and cooling accounting for the majority of your energy consumption, installing one is a no-brainer.

If you live in a house that has very old windows, it may be time to replace them to save on your energy bill. It’s a major source for leaks, and new windows may be long overdue.

If you have either an old or a hollow door, look into ones with higher R-values. Here is how you choose the new door for your home.

You can upgrade the different appliances in your home, but you need to remember that if you do so without making sure that your home has been properly sealed, the effect will be limited as you’re simply letting out all the heat anyway.

Installing low flow fixtures can help you save significant amounts of water simply since you as the user often do not have a direct benefit from using high flow ones.

Buying better light bulbs will save you electricity too, and even if they’re more expensive, they not only last longer but will give you savings over time.

As air leaks account for 30-40% of heating and cooling loss, weatherstripping is crucial, which also includes weatherstripping your garage door.

A tankless water heater can not only save energy, but also give you a nice rebate from the state.

Ceiling fans are actually a cheaper way to ensure a nice temperature relative to cooling the space.

Business Insider put together a list with additional things you can do to increase the energy efficiency of your home, and we strongly encourage you to read the guide.

Home Energy Efficiency Audits

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Don’t think an energy audit is worth it? Read this post on how a $1,175 investment saves him $1,000 per year. Now you can’t say that’s not a good ROI! An energy audit will generally put you back $150, but the recommendations they’re able to provide will more than make up for the cost.

There are a lot of steps involved in an energy audit that a pro will go through in the process.

They will want to see data for the energy usage of the last 3 years as this allows them to see what kind of patterns your house has, and determine the different types of fuel that are accounting for the largest usages in your home.

For each type of fuel, there may be different spike patterns that all tell a story, and if you’re using a lot of energy during peak hours, you may end up getting punished by your provider. This also means that the pro will be looking at whether it’s possible for you to change fuel type and incur savings that way.

They’ll benchmark your consumption relative to comps to determine if it’s high or low, as this may be an indication that something needs to be dealt with.

The pro will determine the needs of the customer, and look at the current condition of your major energy consuming appliances such as the HVAC system, lighting and more.

By creating a comparison with similar houses, they will be able to approximate how much your yearly savings will be if you choose to implement the suggested changes into your home.

When the auditor is done, you will get a report that thoroughly describes the different measures that can be taken as well as the impact it will end up having on your bill. It’s always good if you are able to create a list of the existing problems that you know of, so that you’ll be able to share that with the pro as soon as he comes there, and gather your energy bills too. If you can’t find them, do not feel bad about requesting copies from your energy company.

The auditor will also need easy access to all parts of your home, and it is therefore very helpful if you can be present during the audit.

Figure out the answers to all these different questions, courtesy of Efficiency Vermont.

things to prepare for an energy audit

You should expect a normal energy audit to last somewhere between 2 to 4 hours. You can use RESNET to find an auditor.

Appliances

There are other appliances you may want to consider replacing. We have gathered a list of those and found the best links that give you more information on which are the right ones to choose with energy efficiency in mind.

Furnaces

If you are thinking of buying a new furnace, then go for the energy efficient ones. Here is a list of the most energy efficient furnaces as recognized by the Energy Star. 

Room and Space Heater

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Just like the furnace, it’s also a good idea that you purchase energy efficient space heaters. So when shopping for space heaters, you should know how to determine if whether or not a particular space heater is energy efficient. Here are some of the best energy efficient space heaters in the market.

Dishwashers

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For dishwashers, Energy Star has created this convenient page that displays the specs of different models.

Home Designs

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Designing a home that is truly energy efficient comes down to making sure that it is properly insulated, has good windows, with good weatherstripping around the whole house to avoid air leaks, and with good appliances.

Although you will obviously want windows in your home, you also know from reading this article that it is in fact where most of the heating and cooling escapes through.

As houses lose the heating through the surface areas with the outside, the house design that is theoretically the most energy efficient is one that is a perfect cube, since it will have less surface area per square foot of living space.

When you remodel your home, to make the design more efficient, it’s important that you use a whole-house approach, as there are many variables that are intertwined and that is how you will get the best results from your efforts.

If you’re building a new house, consider making it optimum value engineering (OVE), which will reduce the amount of lumber used in the house framing process and substitute it with more insulating materials.

Do you live in a state that gets a lot of sun? Then you ought to consider installing solar panels on your home too.

AC Units

air conditioner

Check out the list of energy efficient air conditioners prepared to you by Energy Star. Check out this page to better understand how they calculate the CEER rating provided on the page.

Clothes Washers

For clothes washers, the link you are looking for is right here.

Microwave

microwave

As you can read from the Energy Star website, they don’t currently provide a label for ovens and microwaves in residential use.

Water Heaters

Find the most energy efficient water heaters right here.

Refrigerators

Refrigerator Safety Tips

Since your refrigerator is always running, it makes a lot of sense to look for one that has a good energy rating. For inspiration, check out this page.

Window Treatments

Did you know that about 30% of your home’s heat will be lost through the windows? This not only means that you need to install good windows, but you will also want to ensure that there are no leaks around them. In the summer, 76% of the sun on the windows gets inside and counteracts the job that your HVAC system is doing, thereby increasing your energy bill.

How much you may end up saving by using window treatments comes down to a lot of factors. At the end of the day, if you can make less heat escape through the windows, as well as let less sun in during the summer, it means your heating and cooling bill will fall as a consequence. If you install storm windows, you can keep out most of the solar heat, and it’s a cheap solution to lower your monthly bill.

A lot of people opt for operable window coverings that come in many different formats. Roller shades is one option for you to consider. Read this article to get a better understanding of what you can use on your windows to lower your energy bill.

Energy efficiency improvement is truly one of the most cost effective ways we can make a real change when it comes to global warming, and everyone should seriously consider the footprint they leave.