5 Secrets to an Energy Efficient Home
What are the secrets to an energy efficient home? We’re glad you asked! There are a few things you can do to transform your home from a standard dwelling into an amazing, money-and-energy-saving abode of awesomeness!
1. Insulate Properly
Insulation is key to keeping a home comfortable and energy costs low. Tips to effectively insulation your home include:
- Locate problem areas: Many homes have little or no insulation in areas like attic spaces.
- Check the ‘R’ value: An R-value specifies your insulation’s resistance to heat flow – the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. Your certified RESNET Home Energy Professional can recommend the right R-value for your home.
- Select the right type of insulation: There are several types of insulation – each with properties and applications suitable for different areas of a home. Your certified RESNET Home Energy Professional can recommend which insulation works best for your home.
- Seal windows and doors: This is the easiest way to begin insulating your home. Many homes have doors and windows that don’t have a proper seal.
- Seal vents and ducts: According to ENERGY STAR, around 20% of heat moving through the vent and duct system of a typical home is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections.
2. Energy Efficient Lighting
Lighting accounts for nearly 25% of your energy bill, so it makes sense to switch to energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Making the switch can save an average of 8 cents per kilowatt-hour or $45 over the course of the light bulb’s life. CFLs generate the same amount of light as traditional incandescent bulbs but last longer and use around 8% less energy.
3. Heating and Air
Heating and air is easily the largest home energy expense, accounting for nearly 56% of the household budget. An energy efficient HVAC can significantly reduce this cost, as well as reduce carbon pollution and greenhouse gases.
Old and inefficient appliances can be responsible for a lot of energy wastage in your home. Replace them energy efficient ENERGY STAR qualified ones.
ENERGY STAR qualified appliances offer the following advantages:
- Refrigerators: 20% more efficient than the federal minimum energy efficiency standard.
- Dishwashers: 10% more energy efficient than conventional units.
- Washing machines: use over 50% less water and 30% less energy than standard washing machines.
5. Energy Efficient Windows
Significant energy loss can take place through leaky windows. The most effective to solve this problem is by replacing them with new, energy efficient ones. A couple of points to consider are:
- Look for windows that are double-glazed and use low e-technology. Low e-technology involves coating the window to filter the sun’s heat and reduce airflow.
- Make sure your windows are ENERGY STAR qualified. Windows carrying the ENERGY STAR logo are proven to be energy efficient and can lower your energy bills anywhere from 7% to 15%.
If you can’t afford to replace your windows, then weather-stripping them can yield immediate benefits. In addition to financial benefits, your home’s comfort level will increase dramatically as well.
For best results, talk to a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional before making any changes to your home. They can advise you how to achieve maximum results in the most cost-effective way possible.
What is an Energy Rating?
Thanks to high – and ever increasing energy costs, combined with a weak economic recovery, homeowners are now talking about whose home is the more energy efficient. Energy efficient homes cost less to run and are more comfortable to live in. As a result, increasing numbers of homeowners are trying to establish how energy efficient their existing homes are and how to improve them. The first step is getting an energy rating, which is like an energy performance check-up for the home.
The Residential Energy Services Network’s (RESNET) Home Energy Rating System (HERS®) is the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. When doing a comprehensive HERS energy rating, a certified RESNET HERS Rater will conduct a series of diagnostic tests using specialized equipment, such as: a blower door test, duct leakage tester, and infrared cameras to determine:
- The amount and location of air leaks in the building envelope
- The amount of leakage from HVAC distribution ducts
- The effectiveness of insulation inside walls and ceilings
Other variables that are taken into account include:
- Floors over unconditioned spaces (like garages or cellars)
- Attics, foundations and crawlspaces
- Windows and doors, vents and ductwork
- Water heating system and thermostats
The comprehensive HERS rating provides:
- A computerized simulation analysis utilizing RESNET Accredited Rating Software to calculate a rating score on the HERS Index.
- The report will also contain a cost/benefit analysis for the recommended improvements and expected return on investment.
RESNET, an independent nonprofit organization, is a recognized national standards-making body for building energy efficiency rating and certification systems in the United States. Therefore, when scheduling an energy rating, homeowners should consider working with an energy rater that is RESNET certified. A recent report states that mortgage default risks were 32 per cent lower on ENERGY STAR labeled homes that were rated by a certified RESNET Home Energy Rater.
The HERS Index Score is like a MPG (miles-per-gallon) sticker for houses. It lets a homeowner know how energy efficient their home is in comparison to other similar homes. It’s also an excellent indicator for homebuyers as to the energy performance of the homes they’re looking at, and helps them make an informed decision when buying a house.
What’s the Big Deal About the HERS Index?
There’s a new buzzword being thrown around the housing industry with increasing regularity these days: the HERS Index. For those in the know, the HERS Index is the most effective way of identifying an energy efficient home.
But what about those folks who aren’t in the know and have absolutely no idea what the HERS Index is, or how it benefits them as homeowners? Well, help is on the way. In this article, we’ll explain what the HERS Index is, how it works and why it’s important to you.
First things first: what is the HERS Index?
The Home Energy Rating System Index, better known as the HERS Index, is a scoring system used to measure the energy efficiency of a home.
Developed by RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network) and introduced in 2006, the HERS Index is the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. It was also recently adopted by the Department of Energy to replace DOE’s E-Scale as the method used to determine those homes that qualify as a DOE Challenge Home. The DOE Challenge Home is a government program that represents a new level of home energy performance based on stringent requirements, designed to ensure extraordinary levels of energy savings and home comfort.
How does the HERS Index work exactly?
The way it works is quite simple really. A certified RESNET Home Energy Rater conducts an energy rating on a home to determine its energy performance. A HERS Index score is generated based upon the results of the rating. This score gives the homeowner an indication of how energy efficient their home is in comparison to other similar homes. A lower HERS Index score means a more energy efficient home.
A typical resale home in the United States is rated at 130 on the HERS Index, while a standard new home that conforms to the current International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) standards scores 100. These figures have been determined by the U.S. Department of Energy. In layman’s terms, what this means is that a home with a HERS Index score of 70 is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new home, and a home scoring 130 is 30% less efficient than the standard new home.
Where’s the value in the HERS Index?
So, it all sounds very interesting but the big question is: of what benefit is the HERS Index to homeowners? It’s all very well knowing that your home is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new house, but how does that help you in tangible terms?
Well, consider this: when you’re buying a new car, what’s one of the things you look at? The MPG (miles-per-gallon) sticker, right? The HERS Index score is much the same except it’s for houses. While a MPG sticker will tell you how much mileage you can expect out of your new car, the HERS Index score gives you an indication of what kind of energy costs you can expect from your new home.
Let’s say, for example, that there are two homes that you’re interested in. One has a HERS Index score of 55 and the other a score of 130. You’ll know immediately that the home scoring 55 is more energy efficient, which translates into lower energy costs and a more comfortable living environment – making your decision that much easier.
And it’s not only homebuyers who are reaping the benefits of the HERS Index; those selling their homes are as well. Homeowners who’ve put their houses on the market, and have done an energy rating, can use their HERS Index score to command a better price. In fact, more and more builders across the United States are actively marketing their homes via HERS Index scores.
Americans are waking up to the value of owning energy efficient homes, both in terms of cost and health factors. And it’s through the HERS Index and HERS Index scores that they’re able to identify which homes are the most energy efficient. So, if you’re in the market for a new home, or want to sell your existing one, do yourself a favor: find out what your HERS Index score is!
How to Get a HERS Index Score for Your Home – Infographic
How do you know how energy efficient your home is? By its HERS Index Score, of course! The lower your score, the more energy efficient your home. Check out this infographic to learn how you can get a HERS Index Score for your home.
HERS Index Infographic
Check out this infographic about the HERS Index and what some of the scores mean. Great for sharing with friends and family!
Which Appliance Is the Energy Hog in Your Home?
High utility bills are a major concern for many American households today, and it should come as no surprise that appliances account for a major portion of those bills. But the… ahem… burning question is: which appliance is guilty of being your home’s energy hog? Hawaiian Electric was wondering the same thing, so they did a study (based on the annual energy usage for a family of four, and a cost per kWh of $0.34); here are the results:
A/C (central system) – $1,445
Water heater – $952
Second refrigerator – $680
Lighting – $544
Home entertainment systems – $408
While the numbers will vary according to the size of the household, amount of usage, etc., the point is that if you’re not careful, your appliances can end up costing you much more than you imagined.
So how can you keep your bills under control? Firstly, look at your home as a complete system, with each component working together. A good example of this is the way the central A/C (if you have it) works with lighting. Central A/C systems will monitor a home’s temperature and work to keep it within the set range. If a home is equipped with traditional incandescent light bulbs, these will cause the A/C to work harder to keep the home cool, as these types of bulbs actually produce more heat than light. And that’s a spike in the energy bill right there.
Secondly, get an energy audit with a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor. An energy audit will reveal any energy deficiencies in your home, and the energy auditor can provide cost-effective solutions to rectify those deficiencies. For more information, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor in your area.
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.
Big Love for Big Energy Efficient Homes
Americans love big. Big cars, big houses… big is good… until all of a sudden it’s not. A combination of skyrocketing oil and energy prices, along with a downturn in the economy suddenly made the average American consumer think about downsizing everything from cars to homes. And so homes got smaller, about 5% smaller from 2007 to 2010, and less became more.
Until the economy improved. Now big homes are back but with one major difference: they’re more energy efficient than ever before. How can this be, you ask. How can larger homes not be bad for owners’ energy bills, and not be bad for the environment? After all, don’t they need more energy to run? And don’t they generate more greenhouse gases? The short answer is no. Thanks to new energy-saving measures, efficiency gains of more than 70% are now offsetting the rise in energy usage that would normally result from the increasing size of American homes. And, when you take energy intensity (energy used per square foot) into account, the numbers are even more impressive: energy intensity in 2009 was 37% lower than in 1980. That means a significant overall reduction in the use of coal, natural gas and nuclear fuel.
So how is it that newer, bigger houses consume less energy than smaller older ones? It starts with technology – more energy efficient technologies to be specific. This includes ENERGY STAR qualified appliances and electronics, energy efficient lighting and improved energy-saving HVAC systems. Factor into that better insulation, and improved home thermal enclosures and voila! All of a sudden, you’ve got a larger home that’s more energy efficient than a smaller, older dwelling.
The benefits of living in an energy efficient home are manifold. They cost less to run, which means lower utility bills; they are more comfortable to live in and therefore healthier; and energy efficient homes generally command higher resale values.
To learn how energy efficient your home is, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor for an energy audit. Energy audits show you where and how your home is losing energy (and money), and auditors can provide cost-effective solutions to these problems.
Invest In Sustainable Furniture for Your Energy Efficient Home
As you go about making your home more energy efficient by air sealing it, improving the insulation and replacing old appliances with new energy-saving ENERGY STAR qualified ones, the question begs to be asked: have you also invested in sustainable furniture?
What is sustainable furniture, you ask? Well, as Americans become increasingly knowledgeable about the value of home energy efficiency, they are now also thinking about the quality of their home environment. And that includes furniture too, because depending on what it’s made out of your furniture can affect your home’s indoor air quality.
A lot of furniture is made using artificial wood and other materials that release various toxins into the air. The chief culprit is formaldehyde, which is the most common toxin found in artificial wood furniture, and big contributor to poor indoor air quality. The formaldehyde comes from the amount of glue used in making the furniture – the more glue in the wood, the more formaldehyde.
Sustainable furniture, on the other hand, is made from nontoxic, renewable resources, including recycled materials. These products can be disassembled and recycled when no longer needed. The idea behind sustainable furniture design is to make it so that the materials and products are always recycled after use, thereby avoiding disposal in landfills. This is in addition to the fact that they also help contribute to a healthier indoor environment.
Sustainable furniture is relatively easy to source, with any number of designers and stores offering various styles and models. It’s important to remember, though, that it is only a component of an energy efficient home. To understand how to design and build an energy efficient home, contact a RESNET EnergySmart builder in your area. Alternatively, if you’re looking for ways to make an existing home more energy efficient, talk to a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional.
Make Your Home More Energy Efficient – Infographic
Energy efficient homes save their owners money and energy, while improving indoor home comfort. See how you can make your home more energy efficient with this infographic!