2 Million HERS Rated Homes Infographic
See how and why over 2 million homes have been HERS rated to date, saving energy and money for homeowners across the country!
RESNET Annual Report 2015
RESNET’s 2015 Annual Report is out! Check out our scorecard for the year – all we’ll say for now is that it’s been a great year for the HERS Index and for home energy efficiency!
Common Home Winter Problems to Avoid – Infographic
Harsh weather can cause all sorts of home winter problems for your home. This infographic shows you some of the more common ones – and how you can avoid them.
Tips on How to Have a Green Halloween
Typically, you don’t think energy efficiency when you think Halloween, but you should! And here are some tips on how you can turn your Halloween this year into a “Hallogreen”.
1. Start With the Decorations
There’s nothing quite like a dark house to set that spooky atmosphere! So, kill the bright lights and go with energy efficient LED string lighting in Halloween colors to send shivers down the spines of those trick-or-treaters brave enough to ring your doorbell. Or, you can take it one step further by using real candles to create that eerie feeling, but if you do, make sure that it’s done safely.
- Turn cardboard boxes into tombstones
- Paint foam peanuts (packing materials) and turn them into worms
- Turn stockings with runs into spider-webbing
2. Control Heat Loss
Prevent heat from escaping by shutting the door firmly after each trick-or-treat visitor. If your home has a fireplace, use it! It helps set that Halloween mood and you won’t need to run your furnace.
3. Generate Less Waste at Halloween Parties
If you’re throwing a Halloween party, help the environment by using regular cups, plates and cutlery instead of disposable ones. And when loading the dishwasher, scrape the plates clean instead of rinsing to save water. Ensure you have a full load before starting it, and use the low heat and energy-saver options.
4. Buy Local and Compost Halloween Props
Choose locally produced treats, and look for ones with either minimal packaging or are packaged in recycled materials. And don’t just throw away your pumpkin shell and guts once Halloween’s over – compost them or use the guts in a pumpkin pie!
5. Leave the Car at Home
Trick or treat door-to-door on foot in your local neighborhood instead of driving further out. This way, you’ll reduce carbon emissions, save gas and have the peace of mind of knowing where your kids’ candy is coming from.
While greening your Halloween is a great idea, what’s even better is making your home more energy efficient. Lower energy costs, greater financial savings and a healthier home environment are some of the many benefits enjoyed by those living in energy efficient homes. Contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional to learn more.
How Ready Is Your Home for Fall?
Cold weather can take a real toll on your home, inflicting some serious wear and tear. The most effective way to minimize damage is by making sure your home is ready to face up to harsh fall and winter weather. Here are some tips to help get you started.
1. Clean Out Your Gutters
Prevent clogging by removing leaves and debris from drainpipes and gutters, and drain outdoor faucets to prevent pipes from bursting.
2. Clean Your Fireplace and Chimney
Clear out all the ash and charred wood from the fireplace. Get a chimney cleaner to not only clean out the chimney but also check the damper to make sure it can be tightly closed to prevent drafts from getting in.
3. Perform Furnace Maintenance
Clean your filters and check to see that your heating vents aren’t blocked or covered by furniture or carpets. Call a certified RESNET HVAC contractor for your annual heating system check-up.
4. Remove and Store Air Conditioners
If you’re using window air conditioners, now is the time to remove and put them away into storage. Make sure you clean them before covering or storing.
5. Air Seal Doors and Windows
Check your doors and windows for any air leaks with this simple test: run your hand along a window or doorframe and feel for a draft. If you find air leaks, seal them by:
- Applying weather stripping
- Caulking any holes
- Installing storm windows or doors
6. Perform Water Heater Maintenance
Drain your water heater and remove any debris that may have settled on the bottom of the water tank.
To learn more about how you can properly prepare your home for fall and winter weather, contact your local certified RESNET Home Energy Professional for advice.
Cut Energy Costs When Buying a New Home
Buying a new home means more than just paying the mortgage; it also means paying the energy bill. That’s why it’s important to take energy efficiency into account when looking at properties. Here are some factors to consider that will help you cut energy costs when buying a new home.
If the home you’re buying is equipped with older appliances, consider replacing them with newer ENERGY STAR qualified ones. For example:
- ENERGY STAR refrigerators use 20% less energy than their standard counterparts
- ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers use 10% less energy and 18% less water than non ENERGY STAR qualified ones.
Inefficient windows can cost you a lot of money. In fact, they can account for anywhere between 10-25% of your heating and cooling bills. Leaky windows (air leakage) make your HVAC work harder to cool your home in summer, and warm it in winter. Avoid this by air sealing them, or better still replacing older windows with new energy efficient versions.
Properly installed insulation is key to keeping your home comfortable and energy bills down. It’s important to know what the right amount of insulation your home would need based on location. Talk to a RESNET certified Home Energy Professional to get expert advice about how much insulation you might need, and also what is the most effective sort to use for your environment.
4. ENERGY AUDIT
An energy audit is an examination of a home’s energy performance, and will tell you where and how a home is losing energy. A RESNET certified Home Energy Auditor is able to pinpoint problem areas, and provide you with cost-effective energy efficiency solutions to help rectify these problems.
However, before you buy that new home, talk to a RESNET certified Home Energy Professional first. They can help you better understand how energy efficient the home is, and what steps you can take to improve its energy performance.
Sleep Cool This Summer with These Energy Efficient Tips!
Hot sticky summer nights can make it impossible to get a good night’s sleep, unless you crank the air conditioner up. But you’re back to sleepless nights again when you see your utility bill! Thankfully, there are other ways you can sleep cool this summer; here are 10 energy efficient tips to help you sleep in the heat.
1. Freeze Your Sheets
Sound crazy? It’s not! Put your sheets in plastic bags and stick them in your fridge or freezer for a few minutes. It’ll cool you down and make it easier to fall asleep.
2. Convert Your Hot Water Bottle into a Cold One
If freezing your sheets is a little too much, then use a hot water bottle instead. Fill it with cold water, stick it in the freezer and voila! You have a bed-friendly ice pack.
3. Use Your Fans Creatively
Instead of having your fans blow hot air at you all night, use them to draw the hot air out. Face box fans window-side out, so they can push out hot air. Set ceiling fans to turn counter-clockwise; this way, the blades will pull hot air up and away, instead of pushing it down and around you.
4. Make Your Bed into a Cool Bed
Take a towel or sheet and dampen it in cold water. Use it as a blanket or cover. To avoid soaking your mattress, lay the towel(s) or sheet over dry ones first.
5. Choose the Right Sleepwear
If you’re a pyjama person, then opt for loose fitting, cotton t-shirts, shorts and underwear. They’re comfortable, and let air circulate so you stay cooler.
6. Make Your Own Air Conditioner
Take a shallow pan, bowl or roasting tray and fill it with ice cubes. Place it in front of a fan; the breeze will pick up cold water from the ice cubes’ surface as they melt to create a cooling mist that will head your way.
7. Create a Cross-breeze
Place a fan across from a window so that outside air combines with air generated by the fan to create a cross-breeze. Generate more airflow by setting up multiple fans throughout the room.
8. Cool off with a Cold Shower
Taking a cold shower before going to sleep can work wonders! The cold water will not only cool down your core body temperature, but also wash off sweat so you can go to bed feeling cool and clean.
9. Avoid Using the Stove
Cooking on your stove or using your oven generates heat, which warms your home. Great for winter, but not so much in summer! So try making foods that can be consumed at room temperature, and are cooling. Good examples are salads and cold soups (e.g., gazpacho). Also, because the body produces more heat from digesting warm heavy meals, smaller light dinners also help keep you cooler.
10. Unplug Your Electronics
Electronic gadgets and small appliances generate heat if they’re plugged in – even when not in use. By unplugging the ones you’re not using, you can reduce the amount of heat in your home and save energy.
A home that’s not energy efficient is not only more expensive to run, but also more uncomfortable to live in (too hot in summer; too cold in winter). To find out how to make your home energy efficient, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional.
6 Ways to Save Energy in the Kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of every home, but also one of its main energy consumers. However, reducing energy usage in the kitchen can be easier than you think, and it doesn’t always mean replacing all your appliances with ENERGY STAR ones! Here are 6 ways you can save energy in the kitchen.
1. Switch to LED Lighting
LED lights are the most energy efficient available. Not only will they save you money, but also keep your kitchen cooler during those hot summer months as they don’t generate large amounts of heat.
- Incandescent bulbs can cost up to $7.80 annually to run compared to $1.50 for LEDs.
- An average incandescent bulb will last one year, while an average LED can last up to 23.
2. Change the Way You Cook
Bad cooking habits are a major source of wasted energy. These include:
- Opening and closing heated oven doors frequently
- Not putting lids on pots while boiling water
- Using incorrectly sized pans on burners (i.e., using a 6-inch diameter pan on an 8-inch burner wastes over 40% of the heat produced)
Use a convection oven instead of a conventional one; it’s 25% more energy efficient due to shorter cooking times. For smaller meals, consider using your microwave; according to ENERGY STAR, you could experience savings of up to 80% when you do.
3. Use Your Refrigerator Wisely
Keep your fridge door shut as much as possible to retain the cool air. Every time you open and shut your refrigerator, it has to work extra hard to cool the inside space and maintain the set temperature. Also, keep the shelves full to reduce the amount of warm air and moisture in the space.
4. Use Your Appliance’s Energy Saver Settings
Most appliances have energy saver or economy settings that reduce the amount of energy used. Enable these settings to benefit from energy savings.
- Disable the “heated dry” function on your dishwasher; it’s responsible for a lot of the energy used. Air-dry your dishes instead.
5. Unplug Your Gadgets
You would be surprised by how much energy small appliances like toasters and coffeemakers use when sitting idle but still plugged into a wall socket. Cut down on your energy costs by unplugging unused gadgets and small appliances.
6. Keep Your Range Hood Clean
A dirty range hood has a harder time ventilating, which results in a hotter kitchen and your HVAC having to work harder. And that, of course, means higher energy costs. Your hood should vent to the outside but once you’re finished cooking, turn it off. Otherwise, in summer you’ll be sucking in cool indoor air and sending it outside, and the opposite in winter. Again, that results in your HVAC having to work harder and therefore use more energy.
To learn more ways to save energy, and how to make your home more energy efficient, contact a certified RESNET home energy professional.
How to Finance Energy Efficient Homes
As the demand for energy efficient homes grows, homebuyers are beginning ask questions about financing options and whether they can take advantage of financing options that take energy efficiency into account. Homeowners too, want to know about the options available to them when making energy efficient upgrades to their homes. So if you’re considering opting for an energy efficient new home, or making energy upgrades to your current one and have the same questions, we’ve got some answers for you.
ENERGY EFFICIENT FINANCING PROGRAMS
There are two types of energy efficient financing programs that you can consider:
1. Energy Efficient Mortgage
This type of mortgage is geared towards financing the purchase of energy efficient homes. An energy efficient mortgage allows borrowers to finance and include energy saving measures in their mortgage, and to qualify for larger loans so they can upgrade to more energy efficient homes. To qualify for an energy efficient mortgage, homebuyers must first get an energy rating on the home they want to buy.
2. Energy Improvement Mortgage
An energy improvement mortgage is for those homeowners who want to make energy efficient upgrades to their existing homes. The mortgage takes into account the costs of these upgrades so that homeowners aren’t faced with the prospect of a larger down payment. To qualify for an energy improvement mortgage, homeowners must first get an energy rating done on their home.
GETTING AN ENERGY MORTGAGE
Many conventional lenders, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Veterans Administration (VA) all offer energy mortgages. In the case of the FHA, keep in mind that the maximum amount of the portion of the energy efficient mortgage available for energy improvements is the lesser of five percent of:
- The value of the property, or
- 115% of the median area price of a single family dwelling, or
- 150% of the conforming Freddie Mac limit.
- VA energy efficient mortgages are available to qualified military personnel, reservists and veterans for energy improvements when purchasing an existing home. The VA energy efficient mortgage limits energy improvements to $3,000–$6,000.
To learn more about how to finance energy efficient homes, visit HUD.GOV (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) or contact a certified RESNET home energy professional.
5 Summer Energy Efficiency Myths
Hot summers can lead to high energy bills, but not if your home is energy efficient! But some energy efficient practices are simply myths and won’t help you reduce your energy bill at all. Here are 5 of the most common summer energy efficiency myths:
1. Leave ceiling fans on to cool rooms.
Fans work by circulating air, thereby creating a breeze, which makes you feel cooler when it hits your skin. The temperature in the room, however, never changes. Therefore, a ceiling fan that’s running in an empty room isn’t cooling anything and is only adding to your electricity cost.
2. Cool your home faster by setting a lower indoor temperature.
Wrong. Thermostats work by directing the HVAC to reach a certain temperature, and then will turn off. The thermostat will turn on again to maintain the set temperature if it senses a change. Therefore, setting a lower temperature won’t help cool your house faster. Instead, it presents the danger of you forgetting to reset your thermostat to your ideal temperature and thereby wasting energy. The best thing to do is just set the thermostat to the temperature you want.
3. Always turn off the central air conditioning when you go out.
The problem is that central air conditioning requires a lot of energy to cool down a house that’s hot. Of course, keeping the system running continuously for the entire day while you’re out is even more wasteful. The answer? Invest in a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can start cooling down your home shortly before you come back, so that you step into a house that’s set to your ideal temperature. And, it avoids the wasteful practice of either leaving the air conditioning on all day, or turning it on or off depending on when you’re home.
4. Closing air vents in unused rooms saves energy.
Not true. The way most central air systems work is by distributing air throughout the entire home. Therefore, by closing a vent, all you’re doing is preventing the system from delivering air to that area. Instead of saving energy, you might actually be putting an additional strain on your system, which could lead to accelerated wear and tear. And that means more costs.
5. Air conditioning is the only way to beat the heat in summer!
Air conditioning is great but it’s not the only way to stay cool. Many people use combinations of ceiling, table and floor fans to keep their homes cool. Other options include:
- Close windows and curtains in the morning before the heat sets in, and then open them in the evening to flush your house with cooler air.
- Plant trees on your home’s southern and western exposures to create natural shade.
- Properly insulate your attic and equip it with a fan to blow hot air out of the attic outside.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent and LED ones. Incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat as well as higher costs.
To find out more about home energy efficiency and how to keep your home cool in summer, talk to a RESNET home energy professional.