Four Step Energy Makeover for a More Energy Efficient Home
By: Danny Lipford
With the rising cost of gas and electricity, finding ways to cut back on your energy consumption is more important than ever. To help you cope, we’re taking a look at four great ways to make your home more energy efficient that are also eligible for the Federal Energy Efficiency Tax Credit by upgrading your heating and cooling system, water heater, windows, and attic insulation.
Home Energy Audit
One of the best ways to find out how to reduce the amount of energy you use is by having an energy audit conducted on your home. Your local utility provider will often conduct the audit at no cost, or you can hire a private company.
Blower door test.
Tests conducted include installing a blower in an exterior door to create negative air pressure inside the house. A smoke pencil and infrared photography are then used to identify areas of air movement and infiltration. Similar tests on the heating and cooling system are used to detect air leaks in the ductwork, which on average account for a 25% to 40% loss in conditioned air in your home.
Once the tests have identified problem areas in walls, around windows and doors, in the attic, and in the heating and cooling system, steps are then taken to seal up any cracks or gaps to make the house tighter and more energy efficient.
Step #1: Heating and Cooling
In addition to sealing up ductwork, consider replacing an older HVAC unit with a newer, more energy efficient model that has a higher Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER).
Discussing water heaters with actor and environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr.
Step #2: Hot Water Heaters
Heating water accounts for approximately 13% of the total energy usage in a home. Replacing an inefficient hot water heater with a new high efficiency model can save up to $300 a year on your utility bills. Energy efficient models include:
- Solar water heaters
- Heat pump water heaters
- Tankless water heaters
- High efficiency tank water heaters like the Vertex from A. O. Smith.
Step #3: Window Replacement
Up to 50% of the heating and cooling loss in older, existing homes is due to heat loss and gain through the glass in single pane windows and air infiltration in the weather stripping around the sash. While you can replace the entire window unit, JELD-WEN Windows and Doors also offers sash packs that retain the existing window frame while replacing just the sash and balance tracks on each side. The new sash have double pane glass with a low-E coating—to make them very energy efficient—set in a low maintenance, vinyl covered frame.
Step #4: Attic Insulation
Adding more insulation to your attic is one of the best and most economical ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home and reduce utility bills. A common, inexpensive solution is to install batts or blow in fiberglass or cellulose insulation on top of the existing insulation in your attic. Another option that is gaining in popularity, is to spray expanding foam insulation between the rafters and wall studs.
Spaying foam between the rafters prevents heat from entering your attic and allows your HVAC system to perform more efficiently. While more expensive than traditional insulation, foam has a higher insulation R-value and seal out air infiltration better than fiberglass or cellulose.
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Identifying Electrical Circuits
To determine which circuit breaker controls a particular electrical outlet in your home, plug a radio into the outlet with the volume turned on high, then turn off each breaker at the electrical distribution box one at a time until the radio stops playing.
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Ryobi Tek 4 Cordless Devices
The Ryobi Tek 4 line of cordless devices all run on the same compact, rechargeable 4-volt lithium-ion batteries. Products include a laser measurer, noise suppression headphones, infrared thermometer and portable power source. Tek 4 devices are available at The Home Depot.
Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Tubular Skylights for Your Home
Tubular skylights are a great way to provide natural light in dark rooms, closets, and hallways. The interior of the tube contains a highly reflective surface, so sunlight is reflected into the room throughout the day. Tubular skylights are easier to install than traditional skylights and provide light during the day without using any electricity.
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