Tips to create a comfortable energy efficient home
When homeowners start thinking about energy saving they typically think they will have to give up comfort to really achieve any savings. Choosing a professional that is certified in the area of home energy is a great first step in making comfortable and energy efficient home.
Home Energy Contractors
Contractors typically have an area where that is their specialty. If you want to focus on having a great bathroom or kitchen, choose a contractor that is an expert in those areas of the home. When a home energy upgrade is the focus, choosing a contractor who employs workers with nationally recognized Home Energy Professional Certifications is a must. These contractors should also have a strong relationship with a certified auditor. If the contractor does not directly employ an auditor, they should have an auditor under contractor. These auditors can come into your to do an evaluation of to ensure that you home will not only be energy efficient but also a comfortable and healthy place for your family to live.
Home Energy Audits
Since the home energy audit is such an important aspect of creating an energy efficient home, let us taking a more thorough look at what is involved in the audit process. A Home Energy Professional Certification requires that energy auditors meet professional and educational prerequisites. These energy auditing professionals are certified to the highest standard in the home energy industry. So, homeowners can trust home performance evaluations conducted by these certified professionals.
Tools of the Trade
Certified energy auditors are also trained to use specialized equipment required to conduct quality home performance evaluations. A blower door is the most important piece of equipment an energy auditor will use during the evaluation. The blower door reveals locations where air is leaking from a home. If you are not achieving the comfortable level you desire in your home, testing with a blower is a great way to learn why. Air can leak through a variety of places in your home. Of course, windows and doors are the first places that come to mind when we think of air leakage. But air can also escape through face plates on switches and electrical outlets, as well as around pipes and under sinks. Adding up all of those leaks can be rather shocking. Imagine a bathroom window that is always open. Closing that window would create quite a saving in home energy. It is not uncommon for energy auditors to find this much leakage during a home evaluation using the blower door test.
Other Tools Used by Certified Energy Auditors:
- Gas Leak Detectors
- Kill-a-Watt Meters
- Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Lead-Safe Testing Kits
Reputable energy auditors love the chance to teach homeowners about how they can save energy throughout their home. Don’t be afraid to ask these professionals if you can follow them around during the inspection of your home. Asking about certifications and tools used by the energy auditors is also a great way to ensure that you are using an experienced home energy auditor. It would be a shame to end up with an evaluation that simply involved someone walking through your home and making estimates about what they think should be done.
Simple Fixes for an Energy Efficient Home
Most homes have some of the same energy saving issues, we can solve them ourselves. Upgrading to a new refrigerator or installing a programmable thermostat would be well worth the investment of time and money if they yielded significant energy savings. Before your contractor or energy auditor beings work, learn more about the simple upgrades that you could do yourself. These could all add up to significant energy savings.
The air leakage that we discussed earlier, when talking about the blower door tool, is usually the most significant source of energy loss in a home. Luckily, sealing the gaps where the air is escaping is a quick and easy way to achieve both comfort and savings. Air flow reduction can pay for itself in as little as five years. All other energy efficiency upgrades are gauged by this baseline.
Water heaters cycle on and off all day and night to maintain a pre-determined temperature. By changing this setting to just a few degrees lower, a homeowner could see up to 50% as much energy savings as sealing up air leakages. Now that is a quick and easy fix. Turning the water temperature down (just a little) is typically not even noticed.
An even better option for your hot water heater is to install a programmable thermostat. A hot water heater programmable thermostat works just like the ones that many homeowners already use to control the temperature throughout their entire home. Water is only heated during the times of day when it is needed. This produces significant energy savings because the water temperature does not have to be maintained during the times of the day or night when it is not needed. Homeowners typically recoup the cost of this device within three years.
More energy is used to keep your home at a comfortable temperature when the temperature outside is significantly different from the temperature inside the home. Insulation additions to walls and the attics usually pay back the homeowner in 3 to 12 years depending on the climate where the homeowner lives.
The refrigerator is an appliance that is notorious for using lots of energy. In fact upgrading to an Energy Star certified model from an older unit could save up to $150 annually. For a refrigerator to hold the air inside to a temperature that is significantly colder from the temperature outside the appliance, it is critical that the door is sealed correctly. An easy way to test this seal is to use the “dollar bill” test. If you take a dollar bill and place it in the seal of the door it should stay there when the door is closed. A dollar bill that drops indicates that it is time repair the seal on the door or even time to get a new refrigerator. Since refrigerators typically last well over ten years, the energy savings yielded by an energy efficient refrigerator are well worth the investment.
In general, natural gas is less expensive than electricity. Replacing older electric furnaces and hot water heaters with high efficiency gas models is well worth it. In fact, if you live a colder climate, the savings provided by installing a gas furnace can rival the savings achieved through correcting air leakage issues. If you live in warmer climate consider the energy savings of a high efficiency heat pump. In these areas a heat pump might be a better choice than a natural gas furnace. Of course, changing to gas water heaters and/or furnaces requires that natural gas is available in your area.
Do What Works for You
Some of these energy saving tips seem too easy to be true. You may be asking yourself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” This is why it is important to enlist the help of a certified home energy professional so they can teach you about the particular areas where energy savings can be achieved at home. With so many cost-saving alternatives available to homeowners today, it is great to have the advice of a trusted professional. You are unique and so is the home that you live in. Use the tips that make the most sense for your budget and keep you comfortable in that place you call home.
Reference: Department of Energy