Tag Archives: efficiency


“I would hate to be in competition with Tim Hance. He’s thorough, efficient and he knows his stuff. He even sent a drone up to photograph the house from the air. He was also fun to work with. I think he enjoys his work, and it shows. The report was very thorough but he also went over things verbally on the spot so I knew right away what his thoughts and concerns were. If you are considering a home purchase you would do well to hire Tim for your inspection.”

Charlie K. 

Could occupancy sensors save you money?

Indoor lighting occupancy sensors detect activity within an area. They turn lights on automatically when someone enters a room. They reduce lighting energy use by turning lights off soon after the last occupant has left the room. The sensors must be located where they will detect occupants or activity in all parts of the room.

There are two types of occupancy sensors: Ultrasonic sensors detect sound, while infrared sensors detect heat and motion. In addition to controlling ambient lighting in a room, they are useful for task lighting applications, such as over kitchen counters. In such applications, task lights are turned on by the motion of a person washing dishes, for instance, and automatically turn off a few minutes after the person stops.

Both are readily available online and at retail stores.

Attic insulation upgrade issues

We all want our homes to be more energy efficient.  And, with attractive rebate incentives from local utility providers to improve attic insulation, there’s little reason to not jump on board.  In fact, priority #1 should be to air seal and insulate the attic.  Why?  Because hot air rises.  You want to keep it in the house.

A few issues I commonly run into when inspecting older homes that have recently installed attic insulation are concerning.  The most common is for insulation to be blown in around everything, including furnace flues.  Clearance requirements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but at least one (1) inch, free-and-clear, is required of all.  Insulation in contact with the chimney flue is a safety hazard and is all too commonly discovered.  The second issue I discover is blown-in insulation completely restricting the roof’s soffit vents.  By restricting attic ventilation, you run the risk of elevated moisture and humidity in the attic area.  This can lead to moisture and insect related issues, together with the real possibility of structural problems down the line.  The insulation contractor should install baffles (typically card board or styrofoam), designed to keep insulation away from the underlying soffit vents, and allow for free and unrestricted ventilation of the roof system.

So, yes, please have your attics insulated and brought up to prescriptive levels (typically R38).  But, ensure that your contractor does it right and keeps your home safe.  The simple installation of a sheet metal protective shroud around the chimney flues and soffit baffles will keep your home safe and properly functioning.  Plus, you’ll enjoy substantially reduced heating bills from the increased insulation!

Increase Efficiency & Cut Down on Costs

Now that winter is here and we’ve gotten those first heating bills most of us are looking for ways to reduce our heating costs (again). With so many more options available today than in years past, it is easier than ever to improve the effectiveness of home heating and cut fuel costs. There is a growing trend toward more energy-efficient heating choices for the most cost-effective heating solution possible, as well as enhanced environmentally friendly living. Most local utility companies are offering incentives for moving toward more energy efficient systems. Popular Mechanics has a list of suggestions for reducing energy bills.

Winter Energy Savings Tips

  • You can save up to 5% in heating costs for each degree that you lower your thermostat in the 60°F to 70°F range.
  • Wear warm clothing and set the thermostat to 68° (20°C) or lower during the day and evening, health permitting.
  • Set the thermostat to 55° (13°C) or off when leaving home for a long time or at night to save 5% to 20%. (Heat pumps should only be set back 2° [1°C] to prevent unneeded use of backup strip heating.)
  • Dirty filters restrict airflow and increase energy use; replace or clean furnace filters monthly. Keeping your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted will reduce energy use up to 5%.
  • To save 7% to 11% in water-heating costs, reduce the hot water temperature. Set it to 120° (49°C) unless your dishwasher requires a higher setting. Insulate the first five feet of pipe coming out of the top of your water heater.

To Turn Off or Not to Turn Off?

According to the US Department, of Energy, “the cost effectiveness of turning off lights depends on the type of bulb and the cost of electricity. The type of light bulb you use is important for several reasons. All light bulbs have a nominal or rated operating life, which is affected by how many times they are turned on and off. The more often they are switched on and off, the lower their operating life.” The type of lights and the price of electricity determine whether it’s best to turn lights off when you leave a room. Consider using sensors, timers and other automatic lighting controls. See energy.gov’s recommendations for when to turn off the various types of lights in your home.

Top Stealth Home Energy Hogs

In Forbes magazine, William Pentland says, “The relentless rise of electricity prices over the past decade has made many consumers more conscientious about how they use electric power. Many of those conscientious people may find it frustrating – to put it mildly – that their daily or even hourly efforts to turn off devices they’re not using hasn’t delivered the results they’d expected. The blame belongs to the growing number of “vampire” or “phantom” electronic products that populate today’s typical home. An alarmingly large number of electrical products cannot be truly turned off without being unplugged. These ‘vampire’ products draw power 24 hours a day, whether “on” or “off.” See the article for a list of 26 electrical products that consume the most juice while they’re “off.”

10 Ways to Reduce Your Summer Utility Bills

Now that the summer heat—and summertime utility bills—are making you sweat, you might want to consider making a few changes to cut your energy consumption. You can shave dollars off your monthly bills without sacrificing comfort, as long as you plan ahead and get creative. Here’s US News and World Report’s room-by-room guide to saving money this summer and benefiting the Earth at the same time!