Your House and Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency is based on the amount o energy your home uses to perform a specific task. For instance, it take 60 watts to light a typical light bulb. Walls are typically insulated with fiberglass batts to between R-13 to R-19 depending on the age of the home. Is this good? Is this bad? How can you tell. You can actually tell through some basic knowledge and a thorough inspection of your home.
If all of your lights take typical 60 watt light bulbs, you can save a substantial amount on your lighting energy use by switching to compact fluorescent. These light bulbs are actually less expensive now because of the rebate attached to them and their popularity. The compact fluorescent will run on 20 watts or less saving significant energy.
The appliances that suck the most electricity in a home are the refrigerator, the air conditioner, and the furnace. This is because they are the largest appliances and take a lot of power to run. Electric stoves and ovens can also be placed in this category. Updating to Energy Star rated appliances ensures that you are getting the most out of your appliances in terms of efficiency.
Tank water heaters and water softeners use a significant amount of water each month and can add significant amounts to your water bill, just for filling up the tanks. Also, your water softener has to cycle every few days, which means that it spits out the old water in the tank and replaces it with new water. This equates to around 40 gallons of water wasted per week. Replacing your tank water heater and water softener with tankless versions save a significant amount of water. Tankless water heaters are on demand water heaters, which heat your water only when they are supposed to. Tankless water softeners attach to the main plumbing supply and send a low voltage wave down the pipe that prevents particulates from sticking to the interior of the pipes. Besides eliminating the tanks and creating room, you also eliminate the need for salt and the chance of the tanks leaking.
Natural gas and propane are already efficient products that when burned at high temperatures will heat very efficiently. Furnaces, fireplaces, and water heater upgrades will help this , but will not show significant gas savings. This area is tough to improve on.
Insulation and Air sealing
Insulation ar air sealing can be hard to identify efficiency because 90% of it is covered by the wall surface. Renting an infrared camera and exploring your home, will allow you to see within your walls without drilling holes or and kind of invasive testing. Thermal imaging camera see heat and cold. It will also show you all of the air leakage around windows doors, light fixtures, etc. The thermal imaging camera is the single best tool for non invasive testing and deciphering true insulation and air sealing efficiency.
A physical inspection of your attic for insulation depth and type will complete your investigation. There should be at least 12 inches of blown insulation in the attic. If the insulation is blown fiberglass, you should blow 4 to 5 inches of cellulose over the fiberglass to fill in all of the hole and make the fiberglass perform the way it is supposed to.
These tips should help you decipher you overall energy efficiency and site any improvements you can make to become more energy efficient. Using these tips should also save you some money both on the front end and back end. Rebates are available for many energy improvements. For information on energy efficiency rebate programs in your area, visit http://www.dsireusa.org/