How to Make Your Windows More Energy Efficient

March 4, 2015 cold weather tipsenergy auditenergy efficient window tipsenergy efficient windowsenergy saving tipsenergy saving window tipsenergy saving windowslower energy billsmore comfortable homeresnetRESNET Home Energy Auditorwarm weather tips

If installing new, energy efficient windows in your home isn’t an option, here are some ways to make your current windows more energy efficient. As a result, you can enjoy lower energy bills and a more comfortable home!

Cold Weather Tips

  • Fixing a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or taping a clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames will reduce drafts.
  • Consider installing tight-fitting, insulating window shades on windows after weatherizing for extra sealing.
  • Make effective use of curtains and shades by closing them at night to protect against drafts, and opening them during the day to let in warm sunlight.
  • Installing exterior/interior storm windows can reduce heat loss by approximately 10-20% depending on the type of window.
  • Repair and weatherize any storm windows you have currently installed.

Warm Weather Tips

  • Try using white window shades, drapes, or blinds, which will reflect heat away from the house.
  • Close curtains on south and west-facing windows during the day to block excess heat from entering the house.
  • Create shade by installing awnings on south and west-facing windows.
  • Reduce solar heat gain by applying a reflective film on south-facing windows.

Long Term Saving Tip

While the a.m. tips will help make your current windows work more efficiently, for long term savings, consider replacing your windows with high-performance ones. It might mean spending more money initially, but your investment will pay off in the long run.

To learn more about how to make your home energy efficient, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor.

How to Warm Your Home Without a Heater

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Now that we’re in the middle of winter, don’t panic if your heater breaks down! Believe it or not, there are a number of ways to warm your home without using a heater.

Fireplace
A fireplace is a great way of heating your home without using your furnace or heater. In fact, many people maximize their use of fireplaces during the colder months while minimizing the use of heaters and furnaces. This saves energy and money while providing effective heating.

Properly Seal Windows and Doors
Leaky windows and doors let cold air in and warm air out. Therefore, it’s important to properly air seal your home. The easiest way to detect drafts is by hand – you can feel for cool spots around door and window openings. Or better still, get an energy audit to find out exactly where the leaks are occurring and how to best seal them.

Maximize Nature’s Warmth
Strategic use of sun, and placement of trees and shrubs can go a long way in keeping your home warm when it’s cold outside.

  • Place a row of evergreen trees to shield your home from harsh winter winds.
  • Plant shrubs and bushes around the perimeter of your home, around one foot from walls to act as an insulator in winter.
    • Shrubs can help trap snow and reduce drifts when placed along the windiest side of your home.
  • Use dense windbreaks to protect your home from cold winter winds.
  • Ensure the winter sun reaches south-facing windows.
    • Try and make sure you get as much sun in the house as possible during daylight hours.
  • Close drapes in the evening to keep heat in.

Shut the Door!
The closed door can be a simple yet powerful tool to help keep your home warm. It stops air from leaving the room, thereby conserving heat and reducing heat loss.

Use More Rugs and Carpeting
Rugs and carpeting work as insulation to trap heat in rooms. Liberal use of area rugs and carpeting in larger rooms can help keep rooms warm without necessarily using a heating source.

Candles and Lighting
Traditional incandescent light bulbs might not be as energy efficient as their compact fluorescent counterparts (CFLs), but if you’re trying to warm your home without a heater, then turning on the lights does help. Incandescent light bulbs can generate quite a bit of heat; candles will also create light that emits heat, although not as much as light bulbs.

Cook More!
This is one of the most effective ways to warm your home! Your stove and oven generate lots of heat; take advantage of this to cook great meals, bake wonderful desserts and make your kitchen the warmest room in the house! A bonus is that with all the warmth and great food in the kitchen, family and friends will gather there and you’ll get to spend more quality time with them!

While these are great tips on how to warm your home without a heater, there’s nothing quite like an energy efficient heating system when it gets really cold! Contact your local certified RESNET Home Energy Professional to learn more about energy efficient heating options.

Don’t Let A High Energy Bill Haunt Your Halloween!

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It’s that time of year again when ghosts, ghouls and goblins emerge from their dark recesses to stalk the earth, but they can’t hold a candle to the fear that a sky-high energy bill inspires.

While it’s true that there are few things in this world (and also not of this world) that can send a cold shiver down your spine the way the dreaded energy bill does, there is action you can take that doesn’t involve eating raw garlic, wooden stakes or magic spells. This year, don’t let a high energy bill haunt your Halloween by following our tips below:

    1. Banish Cold Chills from Your Home
      • Stop cold air from infiltrating your home by air sealing it properly. The easiest way to look for leaks is to check doors and windows by hand. You’ll be able to feel the cold air seeping in through unsealed spots. Also, step outside and close the door behind you when handing out treats on All Hallows’ Eve. This will prevent heat from escaping and cold air from getting in.
    2. Keep Energy Vampires at Bay
      • Vampires really do exist! Energy vampires are electronics that continue to draw power when on standby mode. Some examples include: TVs, DVD players, gaming consoles, battery chargers and stereos. This usage costs the average American household $100 a year. Don’t let energy vampires get the better of you this Halloween – use a power strip or unplug devices when not using them.
    3. Engage the Power of Energy Efficient Light
      • Nothing fights darkness better than energy efficient light bulbs! One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to lower energy bills is by replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Most of the energy used by incandescent bulbs results in heat generation rather than light. CFLs use far less energy, emit less heat and generate the same amount of light.
    4. Reach for the Sun
      • Scare off any creatures of the night that may be lurking around your outdoor space by tapping into the awesome power of the sun’s energy. Outdoor solar lighting is easy to install, affordable and virtually maintenance-free. You can choose from a wide range of pathway lighting, wall-mounted lights, freestanding lampposts and security lights.
    5. Water – Your Secret Weapon
      • Efficient water use can prove to be deadly to both witches and water bills. Installing low-flow showerheads and faucets can help you achieve water savings of up to anywhere from 25-60%. Leaky faucets could be costing you more money than you realize, so make sure to fix them ASAP!
        • Hot water leaking at 1 drip per second adds up to 1,661 gallons of water wasted in a year.
        • 1,661 gallons of water works out to approximately $35 in wasted energy costs.

The best way to learn how to make your home energy efficient is through a home energy audit. Contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor to find out more.

Decorating Your Home for Fall

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Summer’s definitely over and with the cool autumn weather comes time for a little re-decorating as well as some home maintenance to get your dwelling ready for fall. Here are some good ideas on how to decorate your home for fall:

  1. Reduce your use of lighting with atmospheric custom candleholders.
    • Mini pumpkins are great for this. Cut a 1-inch-wide circle into each pumpkin, scoop out the centers, insert some candles and voila!
  2. Create a centerpiece by grouping glass candlesticks with lots of large apples.
    • A coat of metallic gold spray on the candlesticks will add some panache to the centerpiece, while the candles create a warm, energy-saving light.
  3. A pumpkin is a very versatile fall vegetable that can be used to decorate your home in a seasonal motif—a flower vase is one option.
    • These are really too easy to make. Carve a hole in a pumpkin, scoop out the centers and then fill it with your favorite fall flowers. Place a jar of water inside the pumpkin to keep flowers fresher longer.
  4. Color helps create the right ambience. Consider combining white linens and dishes with brightly colored accent pieces, napkins candles and centerpieces.
  5. Place branches, dried grasses, moss, squash and small pumpkins in decorative bowls around the house. Showcase a particular pumpkin or squash with an interesting shape or twisted stem by setting it apart from the others.
  6. Decorate your fireplace mantel with fall wreathes and dried flowers. Using the fireplace more frequently is a great way to cut down on furnace usage and therefore heating costs.

These are a few ideas you can use to decorate your home and reduce your overall energy usage at the same time. However, if you find that your home is colder and draftier in fall, you might be suffering from air sealing issues. Contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional for an energy audit to find out where the air leaks are occurring and how to fix them.

Tips to Recognize Signs of Energy Loss in Your Home

February 28, 2014 Air Sealingenergy auditenergy auditsenergy efficiencyenergy efficiency appliancesenergy lossenergy ratinghome energy efficiencyInsulation

A direct impact on your cost of living and your quality of life is energy loss, and I don’t mean feeling tired all the time. What I’m talking about is energy waste in your home, which is driving your utility bills up while impacting your health, whether you know it or not. So what are some of the signs of energy loss to look out for?

High Electric, Oil or Gas Bills

  • Old and inefficient appliances, and inefficient lighting contribute to high energy bills.
  • Many electrical devices consume power in “standby” mode, leading to  “phantom” electrical loads.
  • Outdated furnaces can be only 60% efficient at converting fuel to heat, (compared to 90% efficiency for newer equipment), which costs you money.
  • Air leakage and inadequate insulation are major causes for high heating bills.

Allergies, Eye Irritation and Respiratory Problems

  • Airborne irritants (i.e., dust and mold spores) can result from leaky ductwork, dirty air filters, or a mold infestation.
  • These issues occur most often in homes with forced-air heating and/or central air conditioning systems that are not energy efficient, which can lead to energy loss.

Ice Dams

  • An ice dam is a buildup of ice along the edge of your roof, caused by heat from your living area escaping into the attic and melting the snow on your roof.
  • Ice dams are damaging to your roof and gutters, and also cause water leaks.

Cold Drafts and Floors During Winter

  • Air leaks in your home let heated air escape and cold outside air in, resulting in cold drafts.
  • Cold floors are often due to inadequate insulation, cold air infiltration, and incorrect or inadequate insulation.

Condensation on Windows

  • Build up of condensation on windows in winter usually indicates poor ventilation in the kitchen and bathroom areas.
  • Another cause of condensation on windows could be when a house has older windows that aren’t energy efficient. 

Rooms Too Hot in Summer

  • This could be a result of duct leakageinadequate attic insulation or too much direct sunlight coming through older windows that lack reflective coatings.

Lack of Hot Water

  • Old or undersized water heater tanks might not be able to keep up with household hot water demand.
  • Older water heater tanks tend to waste a lot of energy.

Mold and Mildew in Basements or Crawl Spaces

  • Musty odors in these areas generally signify that there’s a mold issue.
  • A mold infestation is often caused by air leakspoor ventilation, and incorrect insulation.

Mold in Attic

  • Dark stains along the underside of roof sheathing suggest that moist air from living areas below is leaking into the attic and condensing on attic surfaces.
  • Another cause of attic mold is kitchen and bath vent fans that exhaust air into the attic rather than outside the home.

If you have any of these problems in your home, they could be signs of energy loss. Contact your local RESNET certified professional for help.

Saving Money: Just One of the Many Great Reasons to Get a Home Energy Audit!

October 2, 2013 energy auditenergy auditsenergy conservation consultantenergy efficiencyHome Energy Assessmenthome energy audithome energy audit checklisthome energy auditorhome energy auditshome energy efficiencyhow to get an energy audit

Home energy efficiency is quickly rising to top of the agenda for many homeowners. Increasing energy costs and uncomfortable home environments are driving Americans to seek out energy solutions. One of the first places to start is with a homeenergy audit. Here are 5 reasons to get an energy audit.

Reduce Your Energy Bill

A home energy audit identifies where and how your home is losing energy. A certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor or energy conservation consultant will identify which systems in your home are working inefficiently (e.g. HVAC), and propose cost-effective solutions.

Improve Your Home Comfort

Drafty doors and windows, and rooms that are too cold in winter or too hot in summer are just some of the energy problems that contribute to an uncomfortable living environment. A home energy audit will uncover these problems.

Uncover Potential Health Issues

In many cases, mold and mildew problems are due to energy efficiency issues. A home energy audit will examine where and how these problems are occurring, and propose cost-effective solutions.

Identify Duct Problems

Inefficient ducts can be reason behind fluctuating temperatures, differences in dust or humidity build-up, and skyrocketing heating and cooling costs. An energy audit will show you what ductwork, if any, needs to be repaired or replaced.

Save the Environment

Residential homes are among the biggest contributors of greenhouse gases. Much of it is through the production and transmission of electricity in homes. By making your home more energy efficient, you’re saving energy, money and doing your bit for the environment. The first place to start is with a home energy audit.

Bipartisan Effort to Have Congress Improve Home Energy Efficiency

June 6, 2013 energy auditenergy auditsenergy efficiencyenergy rebateshers indexHERS ratershome energy efficiencyHOMES Actresnet auditorsRESNET HERS raters

In a move that throws a spotlight on the growing importance of home energy efficiency in America, Democrats and Republicans came together to introduce a bill in Congress that would provide rebates to homeowners who invest in energy saving improvements to their homes.

The Home Owner Managing Energy Savings Act (HOMES Act), introduced by Congressmen David B. McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT), would provide rebates based on projected savings. The savings would be determined by an energy audit and calculated as per the Residential Energy Services Network’s (RESNET) existing homes software modeling guidelines. The bill, which also recognizes certified RESNET Home Energy Raters and RESNET EnergySmart Home Performance Teams, would authorize $500 million for the rebates each year from 2014 to 2017, and allow for the following rebates:

  • Homeowners demonstrating a 20 per cent energy savings may claim a $2,000 rebate.
  • For every 5 per cent in additional energy savings, they can receive another $1,000 – up to a total of $8,000 or 50 per cent of the project’s cost.

The HOMES Act further stipulates that any energy efficiency improvements must be carried out by contractors who are licensed and insured to install retrofits, and accredited by industry organizations, such as RESNET for example. The rebates would be paid directly to qualifying homeowners via a rebate aggregator after quality assurance checks have been made.

Retrofits that qualify for rebates under the HOMES Act include a combination of:

  • Better windows;
  • Insulation;
  • Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment;
  • Air and duct sealing;
  • And other home improvements that lower energy consumption and cost.

Both Congressmen were strongly supportive of the bill. “These are common-sense ideas that will create jobs, save money for consumers and conserve energy,” Congressman McKinley said. “This issue transcends political ideology.”  And according to Congressman Welch, “Encouraging energy efficiency in the private sector is a win-win-win for the consumer, the economy and the environment.  And, in an era of partisan gridlock, energy efficiency is a practical, common sense idea where Democrats and Republicans can find common ground.”

The HOMES Act has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee. It remains to be seen whether or not the bill will successfully pass into law.

 

Listen to What your Home Inspection & Energy Audit is Telling You! – Infographic

February 15, 2013 cut energy billsenergy assessmentsenergy auditenergy auditorsenergy auditshome energy audithome energy inspectionhome inspectionshome inspectorsinfographicsave energysave energy costs

If your home could talk, what would it say? Would it tell you why it’s always cold in the spare bedroom? Or why your basement feels damp? Or why you can never seem to get rid of that water stain under the picture window in your front room?

Unfortunately your home can’t speak. That’s why you need someone to speak for it. In this infographic we’ll show you how a home inspection combined with a high tech home energy audit can tell you things about your home you never would have guessed.

Home Inspection and Home Energy Audit Infographic

HERS Index

What to Look for When Searching for a Home Energy Auditor

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As a homeowner, you want to protect your most valuable asset by using the best-qualified professionals for your home improvements and renovations.

When using the services of a Home Energy Auditor – an expert in the field of home energy efficiency – finding the right person for the job is an important step toward lower energy bills and improved home comfort.

A Home Energy Auditor will provide you with a report on the overall energy efficiency of your home and offer advice on what steps you can take to achieve optimum performance through cost effective measures to correct any problem areas.  Finding a Home Energy Auditor who has the qualifications and expertise to give you the best advice means contacting someone who is RESNET certified.

A RESNET certification ensures a professional Home Energy Auditor has completed training to achieve a high level of knowledge and expertise in home energy efficiency. The certification standards for RESNET trained people are recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the U.S. Mortgage Industry, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

RESNET certified professionals abide by three areas of conduct:

  • Technical proficiency: They are well trained and must demonstrate a high level of technical proficiency. In addition, they are committed to improving their knowledge and skills through continued and ongoing training.
  • Ethics: All RESNET professionals must conduct home energy audits within the guidelines and standards put in place.
  • Objectivity: Contained in the RESNET Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are strict rules regarding objective ratings or audits. A RESNET certified Home Auditor must disclose any financial interest they have in a home they are auditing.

Of course you will want to find an Auditor you can trust and you work well with. Talk to friends and neighbors who have recently used a service provider; you can also use the RESNET database to search for certified professionals in your area. Your path to lower energy bills and increased home comfort begins with finding the right auditor for the job.

With the high standards and level of achievement required to obtain certification, you can be sure that using a RESNET certified Home Energy Auditor will mean you will receive accurate reports and good advice on your home’s level of energy efficiency.

How Energy Efficient is Your Home?

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If you are a typical homeowner you realize that your monthly utility bills are just a fact of life. And like most people, you would probably prefer to keep more of that money in your bank account. While your monthly bills will never go away, you can take the initiative in reducing your expenses by ensuring your home is as energy efficient as possible. But how do you know how energy efficient your home really is compared to similar homes in your neighborhood, for example?

If you and your neighbor are comparing utility bills and yours seem to be higher, maybe you should dig a little further into why you are paying more. The best way to find out how your home rates on an energy efficiency scale is to have a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater visit and do an energy rating on your home.

A RESNET professional will assess your home and provide you with a rating based on the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) index scale. The HERS Index is the nationally recognized standard for rating home energy efficiency. Developed by RESNET, a HERS Index score will give you a good idea of how your house measures up on a national scale.

The U.S Department of Energy has determined that a standard newly built home that conforms to the energy code generates a score of 100 on the HERS Index. This is used as the benchmark for assessing a home’s energy performance. By contrast, a typical resale home in the U.S. scores on average 130, making it 30% less energy efficient than the new home. The lower the HERS score, the more efficient the home is.

Doing a home energy assessment (also known as an energy audit) will provide you with the necessary information to upgrade your home to a new level of energy efficiency. This involves having a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor inspect your house to pinpoint where your home is losing energy. Depending on the type of assessment, this inspection could include a check for air leaks, insulation problems, and all related systems that regulate your home’s comfort level. A certified auditor will also analyze how efficiently the different systems in your home are working together to provide home comfort.

The HERS Index score is also a reliable indication about how energy efficient a house is for anyone considering buying a home – sort of like the MPG sticker on a new car. By finding out what a home’s HERS Index score is, you could save yourself a big headache by avoiding an investment in a property that is an energy hog and may require expensive upgrades down the road.

A HERS Index score is more than just number; it is your guide to reduced energy bills and increased home comfort. Contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor or Rater in your area to give you a full objective assessment of your home’s energy efficiency and learn what you can do to cut your utility costs, and provide a healthy environment for you and your family.