Save on Your Home Energy and Utility Bills Starting Now!
Spaulding Home Inspections is always looking at how energy is used in a home. For those living in South Florida, the HVAC and electrical costs can escalate rather quickly. How does one use less energy in the home? How can I stop paying so much month after month in utility bills? Well, here are some essential tips and tricks that may help you reduce the cost of your utility bills and live a bit healthier in the process.
There are several simple changes that can result in major reductions of water, heating, cooling, and electrical expenses that can be done by the homeowners themselves.
Here are some reasons to make your home more energy efficient:
You can see more from Federal and State tax advantages / refunds
It costs less using energy-efficient technologies. This adds up over time.
It can provide much more comfortable living conditions indoors.
It reduces the negative impact on climate change.
Reduce pollution. Conventional means of power production can bring about pollutants that may enter into the air, soil, and water supply.
Better Ways for Heating and Cooling
As much as 1/2 of the energy used in homes is due to heating and cooling.
Ceiling fans can be used instead of air conditioners.
Replace filters in air conditioners and heaters.
Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature. They should be turned down during the night and when no one is home. About 2% of the heating bill will be saved for each degree the thermostat is lowered for at least eight hours a day. Turning a thermostat from 75° F to 70° F, for example, saves approximately 10% on heating costs.
Install a programmable thermostat. Programmable thermostats allow appliances to be automatically turned down. Programmable thermostats can save up to $150 per year in energy costs.
Using curtains over windows at night will provide better insulation.
Tankless Water Heaters
Tankless or instantaneous water heaters provide hot water only as needed. Tankless water heaters can heat water directly without the need of a conventional storage tank. As a hot water tap is turned on, cold water flows through a pipe into the unit. Either a gas burner or an electric element then heats the water. This results in a constant supply of hot water. There is no need to wait for a storage tank to fill up.
Approximately 11% of an energy bill can be attributed to lighting. Incandescent lights only convert around 10% of the energy they consume into actual light, while the remainder becomes heat. New lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting nearly 50% to 75%. Further advancements in controls offer additional energy savings.
CFLs use 75% less energy and can last roughly 10 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs.
LEDs last longer than CFLs and consume less energy.
LEDs do not have moving parts and, unlike CFLs, they contain no mercury.
Seal and Insulate the Home
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. Here are some common places where leakage may occur:
around pipes and/or wires
window-mounted air conditioners
attic hatches and scuttle holes
fireplaces and dampers
inadequate weatherstripping at doors
Showerheads and Toilets
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:
Low-flow Showerheads - They are available in various flow rates, and some have a button which shuts off the water.
Low-flow toilets - Toilets consume 30% to 40% of the total water used in a home. Replacing an older 3.5 gallon toilet with a low-flow (1.6 gallon) can reduce wasting an average of 2 gallons-per-flush (GPF), that’s 12,000 gallons-per-year.
Vacuum-assist toilets - These toilets have a vacuum chamber. They use a siphon action to suck air from the trap beneath the bowl. This allows it to fill with water and clear the waste. Vacuum-assist toilets are quiet when compared to 3.5 gallon toilets.
dual-flush toilets. Dual-flush toilets have been used in Europe and Australia for years and are now gaining in popularity in the U.S. Dual-flush toilets let you choose between a 1-gallon (or less) flush for liquid waste, and a 1.6-gallon flush for solid waste. Dual-flush 1.6-GPF toilets reduce water consumption by an additional 30%.
Use of Appliances and Electronics
Appliances and electronics account for roughly 20% of energy costs in United States homes. The following are ways to reduce the energy consumed by electronics and other appliances:
Refrigerators/freezers should not be placed directly next to or near the stove/range/cooktop, dishwasher,, heat vents, or in the line of sunlight consistently. Exposure to warmer spaces will in turn, use more energy to provide cooling.
Computers, tablets, etc. should be turned off when not in use. If computers or other devices need to be left running, the monitors should be shut off at a minimum. According to various studies, computers and the like account for roughly 3% of all energy consumption in a typical home in the United States.
ENERGY STAR rated appliances and electronics are worth having. These appliances/devices are approved by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program. Some of the items that may be rated include TVs, theater systems, DVD/ Blu-ray players, CD/MP3 players, audio receivers, and more.
Electronic chargers used for computer laptops, tablets, and cell phones, consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not connected, most chargers should be unplugged to conserve additional electrical usage.
Laptops/notebooks/tablets generally consume much less electricity than most desktops.
Daylight and Electrical Lighting
Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:
Skylights - They should really be double-pane or they may not be cost-effective. Proper flashing of skylights is essential to avoid leaks and energy escaping.
Light shelves - Light shelves are passive devices that bounce light into a building. They are designed for both the interior and/or exterior. Light shelves can cast lighting into an area up to 2 ½ times the distance from the floor to the top of the window. Advanced light shelves may introduce up to four times that amount.
Clerestory windows - Clerestory windows are short, wide windows set up high on a wall. They are protected from the summer sun by roof overhangs and they can allow the sun in winter to shine through for natural lighting/warmth.
Light tubes - Light tubes are designed to amplify low-level light and reduce light intensity from the sun during the middle of the day. Sunlight is channeled through tubes coated with reflective material. The light then enters the living space through diffusers in order to evenly distribute light.
Insulating Windows, Doors, and Openings
About 1/3 of the total heat loss in a typical home occurs through the windows and doors. The following are tips to reduce energy loss through windows and doors:
Seal and maintain all window edges and cracks with rope caulk. This is generally the most cost-effective and simplest option.
Windows can be weatherstripped with a special lining that is inserted between the window and the frame. For doors, apply weatherstripping around the entire perimeter to create a tight seal for when they're closed. Install high quality door sweeps at the bottom of doors, if they aren't already in place.
Install storm windows at single pane windows. A removable glass frame can be installed over existing windows.
If existing windows appear rotted or have water/moisture damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty/sealant, sashes that don’t fit, or locking mechanisms that don't work correctly, it is important that they be repaired or replaced.
Large amounts of energy can be wasted while cooking. The following ideas show less energy consuming or wasteful ways of cooking:
Convection ovens have a higher efficiency that conventional ovens. Convection ovens use fans that force the hot air to circulate more evenly. This allows for cooking at lower temperatures. Convection ovens may use up to approximately 20% less electricity than conventional ovens.
Microwave ovens consume roughly 80% less energy than conventional ovens.
Pots/pans should always be placed on the matching size heating element or flame.
Covers/lids used on pots and pans can heat food faster than when using uncovered pots and pans.
Pressure cookers can drastically reduce cooking time.
Food should be placed on the top rack when cooking in conventional ovens. The top rack will cook food faster.
Try avoiding the medium setting when using the washer. Always wash a full load of clothes. The medium setting generally only saves less than 1/2 of the water and energy that a large/full load uses.
Avoid using the high-temperature settings unless clothes are very dirty/soiled. Water that is 140° F consumes much more energy than 103° F water used on the warm temperature setting. 140° F does not clean clothing much better 103° F.
Clean the lint trap every time using the dryer. Not only is excess lint a major fire hazard, but it will take longer for your clothes to dry.
Whenever possible, air-dry your clothes using clothes lines and/or racks.
Spin-dry or wring clothes out prior to using a dryer.
Homeowners or renters who make these changes often discover that what they save is worth the time and effort. Spaulding Home inspections can help you with your energy savings by providing a more in-depth assessment with the home inspection services we offer. For additional information call (772) 882-8103 or visit www.spauldinghomeinspections.com to schedule your inspection today!