The Energy Efficient House
An energy efficient home is a cost effective home. Better yet, an energy efficient home is usually a more comfortable home — cooler on hot days and warmer on chilly ones. Although new appliances, more efficient windows, wall, floor and ceiling insulation and other expensive alterations can greatly improve energy efficiency in the home, energy efficiency doesn’t have to be expensive. Follow along as we take a tour through a more energy efficient home.
Turn down the temperature at the water heater ten degrees and save 10% annually on water heating bills. What’s more, you may just find that there is absolutely no loss in temperature or comfort at the shower or bath end. Try it. You can always turn the temperature back up if it proves to be a problem. Annual cleaning can save another five-percent on the water heater bill. Most folks are willing to insulate a water heater because it is easy to do and inexpensive as well — under $30. But equally important is insulating hot water lines beneath the floor. Not very many people like to crawl around under the house. But be reasonable, you crawled for about a year before you could walk. Why not use that experience to your advantage. In most homes the hot water lines can be insulated for under $100 and in one afternoon.
Modern American homes are required to have setback thermostats, but some are complicated and difficult to operate. A setback thermostat can switch the furnace on when heat is needed and then turn it down to a lower temperature when everyone is snuggled in bed for the nighthe. The same thermostat can also be programmed to shut the furnace off completely when no one is home and back on again before everyone gets home — is there a working family in the house? Call your local utility company to find out if they offer free instruction in the use of thermostats? Even if you had to pay a heating contractor to teach you how to use yours the savings on your heating bill in one winter alone would probably cover the cost of a private tutor. You may also need a boiler repair technician to service your boiler to improve its energy-efficiency.
Heat rises, and most folks that have tried to clean a ceiling during the winter know that this is a job for a person in a bathing suit — talk about feeling the full effect of your furnace’s output! You wouldn’t think that heat from the ceiling could make its way back down to the floor and out through the fireplace — but it can. Air currents in the home are increased when the damper in a fireplace is left open. Result — no fire to keep you warm. And what warmth exists can easliy be drawn — you guessed it — “up in smoke”!!
Caulking and gasketing are the two of the least expensive methods we know of to reduce home energy waste. Every duct, wire or pipe that pernitrates a wall, ceiling or floor is a potential energy waster. Penetrations and gaps in floors, ceilings, windows and doors should be sealed with an appropriate caulking, foam sealant, gasket or weather stripping. An electric wall switch for example costs about fifteen-cents to insulate with a pre-cut gasket that can be purchased at most home improvement centers. Plumbing vents begin below the floor and end above the roof. The holes through which these pipes pass should be sealed with foam to prevent cold air from entering the house through the floor and attic. Electric wires cause the same problem and they also should be sealed above and below.
The appliance that uses more energy than any other in the home is the refrigerator. And although it would be nice if everyone could afford a new one we know that isn’t in the cards. But, everyone that has a refrigerator can afford to make sure that the door gaskets are in premium condition and that the motor is operating at peak efficiency. A door gasket can be purchased and DIY installed for under $35.
Low flow shower heads really save water and in so doing can reduce water heating use by a fourth — not to mention water savings by as much as half. There is a new low flow shower head on the market now that has a scald guard feature. What will they think of next!?!
Most heat loss occurs in the attic. Reasonable — heat rises and the attic is the highest point of the house. Even if your attic is insulated it makes good sense to add another layer if you can afford it. You can’t over insulate and the attic is the easiest and least expensive area of the home to insulate. If you don’t believe us try insulating your floor sometime!