Well, it’s time for another of those seemingly unending tasks of home ownership. Most of us live in areas where summer has begun, and many of us have begun the belated yearly quest to save on our home energy costs. Here is an easy-to-use, intuitive guide from www.energysavers.gov to help you conduct an easy do-it-yourself home energy assessment (also known as a home energy audit). With a simple but diligent walk-through, you can spot many problems in any type of house. When assessing your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems you’ve found. This list will help you prioritize your energy efficiency upgrades.
I hope you find this useful and timely informative! If you’re looking for a top notch home inspection in Anacortes, Washington or the San Juan Islands (including Orcas Island, Friday Harbor, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island) to keep you from buying “The Money Pit,” then you need Tim Hance of All Islands Home Inspections working for you! Over the past 8 years, we’ve protected over 3,200 buyers from unexpected post-closing expenses. Call (360) 298-1163 to schedule your Anacortes or San Juan Islands Home Inspection today!
Should you replace that old refrigerator?
You probably know that refrigerators are typically the most energy-hungry appliances in your home, so the more efficient your refrigerator the more money you can save. Older refrigerators are usually two to three times more costly to run than newer models. If you still have a fridge from the 1980s, replace it with an ENERGY STAR qualified model and save over $100 each year on your utility bills. Replace a fridge from the 1970s and save nearly $200 each year! If you are wondering whether replacing your refrigerator is a good decision for you, ENERGY STAR Savings has a calculator you can use to find out exactly how much money you’ll save by replacing your existing refrigerator.
I conduct Residential Energy Audits on behalf of OPALCO, the local utility provider in San Juan County. Oftentimes, homeowners are completely unaware of how much it actually costs to run a particular appliance. But, it can be calculated easily!
If you’re trying to decide whether to invest in a more energy-efficient appliance or you’d like to determine your electricity loads, you may want to estimate appliance energy consumption. You can do so with this formula: Wattage × Hours Used per Day ÷ 1,000 = Daily Kilowatt-hour (kWh) consumption (1 kilowatt [kW] = 1,000 Watts). Multiply this by the number of days you use the appliance during the year to determine annual consumption. To calculate the annual cost to run an appliance, multiply the kWh per year by your local utility company’s rate per kWh consumed. Note: use eight hours as an average daily maximum wattage time for a refrigerator. Although turned “on” all the time, refrigerators actually cycle on and off to maintain interior temperature. For typical wattages of various appliances see our chart.
I used to conduct Residential Energy Audits on behalf of OPALCO, the local utility provider in San Juan County. Oftentimes, homeowners are completely unaware of how much it actually costs to run a particular appliance. But, it can be calculated easily! Continue reading
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.
According to Energy Star, a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), which costs only a few dollars, will save about $30 over its lifespan and will pay for itself in just six months. In addition, CFLs actually reduce mercury emissions around the world, because they lessen the need for electricity from power plants that emit mercury. Coal-fired power generation accounts for 51 percent of the mercury emissions in the U.S. But CFL bulbs contain mercury, so some people prefer not to use them due to safety concerns if a bulb brakes. LED light bulbs (light-emitting diodes) cost more upfront but last even longer than CFLs, consume less energy and they contain no mercury.
What are some other easy ways to save energy and money? How about getting rid of the phantom of the office? Desktop computers and laptops continue to use power in sleep mode if they are plugged in. There are similar phantoms-phantom electrical loads-that can be found throughout the home. In fact, the Department of Energy estimates that 75 percent of electricity used to power home electronics is actually consumed while the products are turned off. Some people feel it is not convenient to turn multiple appliances and electronics on and off, but a power strip allows multiple devices to be turned off with one switch. Conserving water is becoming a fact of life. Using less water will lower the overall water bill, and using less hot water will save on the electric or gas bill. Lowering the hot water temperature to 120° saves energy and is hot enough for showers and use in clothes washers and dishwashers. Water-efficient fixtures, including showerheads, faucets and toilets are available, and appliances should be upgraded to those labeled with the Energy Star designation as they are replaced. Demand-type water heaters (tankless) provide hot water only where it is needed and do not produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters. Creating a drought-resistant landscaping can also cut down on water usage outdoors.
When the air-conditioner is on, another way to reduce energy consumption is by raising the temperature. For every degree higher it is set, cooling costs are reduced between seven and ten percent. Periodically replace air filters when running the heating or cooling system and it will operate more efficiently. Ceiling and whole-house fans can also play a large role in keeping inside temperatures manageable while reducing cooling and heating costs.
With more than fifty percent of a home’s energy use going towards heating and cooling, slowing the flow of air between inside and out can make it easier to control temperature. Adding insulation in the ceiling is one way to reduce that air flow. Measuring the current level of insulation is easy and can be done using a yardstick to measure the thickness of the insulation, and then multiplying the thickness by the R-value (resistance to heat flow) of the insulation material. The R-value ratings of a variety of attic insulations can be found on the Department of Energy website. The site also lists the appropriate R-value ratings for various parts of the country. Adding insulation to an attic is often one of the most cost-effective methods of improving a home’s energy performance.
Sealing areas where air leaks may occur will save energy and lower energy costs. Some common areas to check include weather-stripping around doors, caulk around window frames and any unsealed spaces around pipes; check for air leaks in the attic hatch, around fireplace dampers, mail slots, and wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.
Want a little straight talk on saving money and energy? Don’t believe all you have heard about ways to improve efficiency and lower heating costs. Steve Graham, Networx, says, “Even with a constant flow of information about energy efficiency, homeowners make major heating mistakes that end in higher electric bills and larger environmental footprints.” Here are 10 of those errors, with the cause and effect of each decision.