Save Money and Energy with these Tips
With so much energy information being thrown about, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed. Here are some simple and straightforward energy tips that will take your energy efficiency to the next level.
- Get an audit. If you’re serious about investing in efficiency, it’s just a no-brainer. End of story. Use a BPI-certified auditor and get a blower door test, IR camera, and duct blaster (if applicable) along with a combustion safety test. The whole enchilada. This will provide you with all of the information you need to prioritize your investments in efficiency. If you are unsure about your willingness to invest but a local utility or organization offers cheap audits, take that incentive and run.
- Go under-the-radar. Think outside the “take shorter showers” and “use LEDs” kinda box we’ve all become used to. Here are some lower profile but potentially significant opportunities for efficiency gains:
- Chimney balloons
- Recessed can covers
- Smart power strips
- Low-flow showerheads
- Faucet aerators
- Radon fans
- Seal the envelope. With or without an audit, the surest way to long-term energy savings is by sealing up the home’s conditioned area, especially its top and bottom. Leaks and gaps around recessed can lights, attic hatches, dropped ceilings, and crawlspace floor joists can greatly increase the flow of outdoor air into the home year-round. Fireplaces, windows, doors, and HVAC/plumbing penetrations can leak and make you uncomfortable. To seal all of these areas right you’ll probably want to hire a contractor, who can also ensure that your building envelope is well insulated.
- Right size. When it comes time to replace an energy user, don’t just buy efficient. If you’re replacing a space heater or cooling unit, make sure that your contractor performs a Manual J load calculation in order to size the equipment to your current needs. Investigate the opportunity to switch heating fuels as well.
- Consider the sun. Although conventional energy wisdom holds that one should eat efficiency vegetables before indulging in a renewables dessert, there are worse sins than investing in solar photovoltaics. Just do it with your eyes wide open. In other words, use a trusted cost-benefit estimator rather than blindly accepting the rosy outlook of a contractor.