3 Energy Saving Tips to Revitalize an Old Home
In comparing energy efficiency, the difference between an existing home and a newly constructed one is that a new home is generally 30% more energy efficient. Considering a typical American household spends $115 a month on utilities, it’s easy to see just how great your savings could be.
However, not everyone is lucky enough to be in a situation where they can build their own brand new home, especially in this economy! Nevertheless, there are still things that you can do to your current home to make it more energy efficient, leading to significant financial savings plus a more comfortable living environment.
First, look for proper insulation
Only 20% of pre 1980 homes are insulated to the proper standard. Up to 1/3 of your heating could be escaping through the ceiling.
In the USA, your attic insulation should be between R-30 and R-60, depending on where you live.
Although the attic is a major contributor to heat loss, an older home could also be lacking insulation elsewhere. By investing time and money insulating walls, crawlspaces, floors and garages, you could save up to 50% in energy costs!
How old is your air conditioner?
What equipment and appliances could be changed to ENERGY STAR versions? ENERGY STAR rated products save between 20% and 30% on average.
For many, the air conditioner will have the greatest effect when making an energy comparison. This is especially true in hotter climates. In Florida, 40% of utility bills are taken up by the HVAC system – mostly for cooling.
In most cases, a new air conditioner will be 30% more energy efficient, and by upgrading your air conditioner from a SEER 9 to a SEER 13, you could save up to $300 annually.
A general contractor can help you, where the builders haven’t
A new home doesn’t just perform better because of energy efficient components. Older homes simply weren’t built with energy efficiency high on the agenda.
This is where a RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractor can help – consider hiring one. As an experienced Home Energy Professional trained in energy efficiency, they can show you where you’re losing energy and provide cost effective solutions.
Take your ductwork for example. Older ducts were often not properly sealed or insulated, resulting in many older homes having up to and even over 40% duct leakage. Imagine, 40% of your money could be spent heating the Christmas tree in the attic!
But it’s not surprising that ducts aren’t checked for such leaks very often. After all, nobody enjoys working in the filthy old crawl space do they?
Talk to a RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractor about cleaning, sealing and insulating your ductwork, while making sure all the connections with the registers are tight.
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.
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.
Make Your Home Energy Efficient for Summer!
May is the perfect month to start getting your home ready for the summer – energy ready that is. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- Change the filters in your HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) system. Dirty filters contribute to indoor air pollution and increase energy costs by making your HVAC work harder.
- If don’t already have a programmable thermostat, now’s a good time to invest in one. A programmable thermostat can save you a significant amount of money over a long, hot summer.
- Test your system by setting your thermostat to cool and turn down the temperature. The air conditioner should start cooling your home; if it doesn’t, that means there’s a problem. Call a certified RESNET HVAC contractor to find out what the problem is.
- If you need to replace your air conditioner, do it now before the hot weather kicks in.
- If you have an outside AC unit, remove any debris that may have accumulated during the winter. Also, consider trimming or removing plants, leaves, or high grass that is located close to the unit. These could have a negative impact on your unit.
- Check your windows and doors for any leaks. Leaky windows and doors let hot outdoor air in while allowing cool indoor air to escape. The result is your HVAC has to work harder and your energy bills go up, so make sure you seal those leaks!
- Check your ductwork for any leaks. Sealing leaky ducts can save you anywhere from 10 to 20% on your heating and cooling bills.
- Examine your home’s exterior for any wear and tear or damage. Harsh winter weather can inflict some serious punishment to a home’s outer walls, exterior doors and roof. Making repairs now will not only lead to a more enjoyable summer, but also give you a head start on preparing for next winter.
To get a comprehensive idea of how to make your home energy efficient for summer, talk to a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional. They’ll be able to pinpoint where and how your home is losing energy, and offer cost-effective solutions to rectify the problems.
Tips on Creating an Energy Efficient Study Room
With the start of the new school year, many parents are turning that spare room or den into a study room for their kids. Here are some tips on how to make it energy efficient so you can maximize savings, and create a comfortable study atmosphere for your kids:
- Select ENERGY STAR® qualified computers and printers; they use anywhere from 30-65 percent less energy.
- ENERGY STAR power management features put computers into a low power “sleep mode” after a designated period of inactivity to cut down on energy usage.
- Turn off the monitor if you’re not going to use the desktop computer for more than 20 minutes.
- Turn off both the CPU and monitor if you’re not going to use your computer for more than 2 hours.
- Use a power strip that can be turned off (or turns off automatically) for all electronics (computers, audio and video equipment, etc.).
- Did you know that the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter?
- Many appliances (i.e., DVD players, TVs, stereos, computers) will still draw power when they are switched off unless they’re unplugged or using a power strip.
- Install ENERGY STAR certified lighting fixtures that are highly efficient (and have lower greenhouse gas emissions) to provide your kids with the lighting they need to study properly.
- ENERGY STAR lighting uses ¼ of the energy of traditional lighting and produces light that lasts between 10,000-50,000 hours (about 7-22 years of regular use).
- For electrical gadgets that need batteries such as cordless phones or digital cameras, use rechargeable alternatives. Rechargeable batteries are more cost-effective and better for the environment.
- If you’re putting a cordless phone in the study room, choose one that is ENERGY STAR qualified. They’re more efficient and use half the energy of standard units through improved energy performance features such as switch-mode power supplies and “smart” chargers.
- If the room has windows, you should:
- Seal them properly to prevent air leakages, which can make the room uncomfortable to be in while driving up energy costs.
- Replace old ones with newer ENERGY STAR qualified windows to lower household energy bills by anywhere from 7-15 percent.
- On warmer days, draw the blinds or curtains to prevent the room from becoming too warm – it’s hard to study in a room that’s too hot! Also keep in mind that your air conditioning will have to work harder, which means higher costs.
And remember, an energy efficient study room also works well as an energy efficient home office! To get more great energy-saving tips, visit www.resnet.us
Is Portable Air Conditioning Energy Efficient?
Ask any air-conditioning salesperson what their busiest day of sales is, and inevitably they’ll tell you, “The first hot day of the year.” Why so many people wait until it gets hot before thinking of buying an air conditioner remains one of life’s unsolvable mysteries!
But when those sweltering dog days of summer have you screaming for some relief, you’ve just got to cool down the house. So, the question is, which is more energy efficient and cost-effective: a portable unit that you can move from room-to-room, or a central air conditioning system that cools the whole house but costs much more.
Portable units have become increasingly popular and many are designed for use in any room of the house. Larger models that are equipped with wheels can be moved from room-to-room conveniently and without any installation problems. One argument for the portable cooling option is that it’s usually only being used in the room that you’re in; therefore you’re not wasting cold air in rooms that you’re not occupying. Now if you’re considering getting a portable air conditioner, you need to consider the area you want to cool. Keep in mind that you should buy a portable unit based on the size of the area you want to cool. If you select a model that doesn’t have sufficient power to work efficiently in a given space, you will be wasting money as the unit works overtime to vent warm air and provide adequate cooling. Either way, consider getting an ENERGY STAR certified model, as it will be more energy efficient.
Nevertheless, in comparison to other cooling options, such as window-mounted AC units and central air, portable units are, for the most part, less energy efficient in general. That is just an inherent part of the design of movable air conditioning. But if it’s transportability that you’re looking for, then you may consider the convenience of a portable unit worth those extra energy costs. It all comes down to your needs. In the long run, central air conditioning is the most energy efficient way of cooling a home and will add value to a property.
Your best bet is to do a little homework before you purchase in order to find out what type of air conditioning system will meet your needs based on your home, space, and of course your budget. Talk to your local certified RESNET HVAC Contractor for good advice on what your most cost-effective solutions are.
Stay Cool This Summer! 7 Energy Efficient Tips for your Home
When the mercury spikes your first instinct might be to crank up the A/C, but that’s a burn you’ll feel later. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite ways to stay cool this summer while being easy on your energy bill and kind to the planet: Stay Cool This Summer! 7 Energy Efficient Tips for your Home.
One of the simplest things you can do to keep you and your family cool is to make sure your air conditioner is in perfect working order. We recommend you change your filters every 1-3 months.
Have a certified technician perform maintenance on your air conditioner to improve the performance and life of your unit. We do not recommend that any homeowner ever perform their own maintenance, this should always been done by a professional. Find a RESNET certified professional near you.
When new filters and maintenance just don’t cut it, it might be time to invest in a new unit. Remember, not all air conditioners were made equal! It’s important to choose the right air conditioner for your home.
Raise the temperature of your air conditioning unit by 1 or 2 degrees, up to 78 degrees. You could save 3-5% off your energy bill just by raising the temperature a bit. Plus, your air conditioner won’t have to struggle to get the house to a comfortable coolness, reducing overall wear and tear on your unit.
A ceiling fan is a great way of working with your air conditioner, especially if you’ve raised the temperature slightly. For optimum performance, ensure the blades are spinning counter-clockwise. The air-flow from this creates a wind-chill effect that makes you feel cooler.
Already have vertical blinds? Angle them slightly so the concave part of the blind reflects sunlight up and away from your house. This works great whether you’re using your air conditioning or not, and can block up to 65% of the heat that would otherwise enter your home through the windows.
If you’re not already using a programmable thermostat, have one installed. You can preset a program that will raise the temperature during the day when no one is at home and in the cooler nighttime hours, or if you go on vacation for a few days, then lower it again just before you get home. Some thermostats can even be controlled from your smartphone!
Stay cool this summer with more energy saving tips!
How Heating and Cooling Contractors Can Save or Cost You Money
The average American homeowner spends $1,000 a year heating and cooling their house. It makes up almost half your total energy costs.
Of course, bringing in a heating and cooling contractor to improve energy efficiency can pay off. So where should you be checking for improvements?
First of all, make sure you’re properly insulated. A poorly insulated attic can put immense strain on your heating and cooling system. Heat beats down from the attic in the summer, and heat escapes through the ceiling in the winter.
Also, seal leaks in the ductwork and insulate the sections that run through uninsulated areas of your house. Exposed and leaky ducts and vents can put a huge burden on your HVAC system. A RESNET qualified heating and cooling contractor can take care of duct cleaning, and uncovering blockages. This’ll improve the airflow.
A RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractor will also perform a combustion safety check before and after, ensuring there’s no back drafting of gas or oil burning appliances.
But while contractors can save you money, they can also cost you dearly
Remember this if you decide to install a new air conditioner. Many people wrongly believe your air conditioner’s size should be proportionate to your home.
Always beware of contractors who judge your air conditioner size based on square footage of your house. An oversized air conditioner costs more to buy. But that’s not the worst part. It’ll use more energy, whilst cycling on and off more frequently. This shortens its life span.
You don’t want to keep paying for the wrong contractor years after they’ve walked out your door, so take a little care to begin with. Check your contractor’s references, as well as their training and qualifications. Look for a local certified RESNET air conditioning contractor.
Any RESNET qualified contractor has undertaken rigorous energy efficiency training and passed a RESNET administered exam. Certified RESNET contractors can also be held to account if you have a valid complaint.
So what should an energy conscious air conditioning contractor be doing?
They’ll probably be in your house for at least an hour before suggesting your best-suited air conditioner. This is because they’ll measure everything that may affect the unit’s performance. Measurements of the floors must be taken, as well as the window to wall ratio. They’ll also be checking the standard of insulation in the attic, walls and crawl spaces.
This means you’ll be fitted with an air conditioner that’s accurately sized, as opposed to one that’s based solely on your home’s square footage.
Upgrading your air conditioner from a SEER 9 to a SEER 13 can have a 30% reduction on your bills. That can be up to $300 depending on where you are. However, no air conditioner can save you money if it’s wrong for your home or fitted incorrectly. A RESNET certified heating and cooling contractor can help you find the option that’s best for you.
Take a Break from High Energy Bills this Summer
Would you keep paying for your newspaper delivery while away on vacation? Or, for that matter, your magazine subscriptions when you know you’re not going to be around to read an issue?
Well, you probably wouldn’t, would you? So why pay for electricity that you’re not using? Because that’s exactly what you’re doing if you don’t prepare your home accordingly before you go away for the summer.
When vacationing away from home, it’s easy to neglect simple things that can cause your energy bills to soar. Everyday household appliances can consume high amounts of energy, so it’s important to make your home energy efficient while you’re away to avoid returning to bloated energy bills.
You may not know it but at this very moment, there are vampires lurking in your home. These are your HVAC system, home theatre system, and refrigerator, all of which consume electricity even when they’re not actively used. They have aptly received the label of being “vampire appliances”. Some appliances, such as your water heater, can consume 400 kWh/month on average. Reducing energy consumption with such devices can lower the cost of your energy bills. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American household spends $111 monthly on energy bills and the average price of residential electricity in December 2011 was 12 cents/kWh (Kilowatt Hour), although this cost differs from state to state (7.5 cents in Idaho to 36 cents in Hawaii). These costs are expected to rise throughout the country.
Now just imagine how much money you could save by simply taking a little time before leaving for your vacation to prepare your home to be as energy efficient as possible! Here are a few tips to help you do it right.
- Keep your thermostat clear of heat (heat producing devices cause your thermostat to misread the true room temperature and turn on the AC, resulting in wasted energy)
- Increase your thermostat setting when at home (when leaving set it even higher; cooling the house when you return costs less and can save you 10% or more on your cooling costs)
- Turn off your lights! (Use timers where necessary and remind temporary guardians to turn off lights they are not using)
- Don’t set your refrigerator/freezer temperature colder than necessary (36F – 42F for fridges and -5F – +6F for freezers are sufficient)
- Clean your refrigerator unit (removing dust from fins, motors, coils help the unit to run more efficiently)
- Set the water temperature to 120F (it requires less energy to heat water to a lower temperature; for safety reasons with electric heaters, turn off the water heater at the circuit breaker/fuse before changing the temperature)
- Repair dripping faucets immediately (one drop a second can waste 48 gallons of water a week)
- Remove moisture with a dehumidifier (less humidity makes you feel cooler and requires less work from your AC)
- Turn off/Unplug Electronics (TV’s, computers, video game consoles, DVD/Blu-Ray players, home theatre etc. can consume energy when left plugged in)
- Turn off/Unplug Office Machines (printers, scanners, fax machines, PC, Internet modems are all high consumers of electricity)
For more energy-saving tips, go here.
How to Find the Ideal Air Conditioning Repair Contractor
Of all the home appliances and conveniences, probably none is as mysterious to the average person than the air conditioner. We all appreciate how these modern marvels transform the heat of a blistering hot day into a refreshing stream of cool air. But if you were to ask most people how they accomplish this task, few will be able to explain it. That’s why only a certified professional should attempt any central air conditioning repair.
If you try to tinker with your system on your own, most likely your ‘backyard mechanic‘ approach will do a lot more harm, costing you more money when you finally hire someone to help you repair your own attempt at air conditioning repair.
There are two types of central air conditioning systems:
Split system: Is comprised of two parts – an outdoor unit and indoor unit. This system is used for smaller or medium sized rooms.
Package system: This is the more common system used in residential dwellings. A package system with compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator are housed in a single box.
There are several indicators that there may be a problem with your air conditioning unit. If you notice any of the following you should request the assistance of a RESNET certified heating and cooling specialist to diagnose and carry out an air conditioning repair as soon as possible:
- Excessive noise
- Lack of power
- Frost build-up
- Inadequate cooling
- Unit stops cooling altogether
- Condenser unit turns on and off repeatedly
Finding a reputable contractor who is qualified to diagnose and repair a central air conditioning system can sometimes be a challenge. Many contractors will simply recommend an air conditioning unit based on the square footage of a house. However, the area of living space is only one of several factors that should determine the size and type of central air unit you should have in your home. A RESENT certified energy auditor has the expertise to assess your home and recommend the correct size and type of unit that will provide the most energy efficient service for your needs.
During the hot weather, having a properly functioning air conditioner can make all the difference between a terrific summer and a lousy one. If your system conks out, make sure a RESNET professional handles your air conditioning repair, so that you know it’s done right.