Making Your Home Super Energy Efficient
How to make an ordinary home super energy efficient.
We own an ordinary "tract" home built the same way as the one next to it and the one next to it and so on. The difference between our home and those of our neighbors is that their electricity bills run $300 or more and ours barely reach $50 for most of the year, occasionally straying into the $100 range during the hottest months.
We live in the southwest, so cooling is our biggest expense. We decided to try to make our home super energy efficient by reducing the need for cooling and by eliminating other sources of excessive energy consumption.
We started our energy saving project by replacing each and every light bulb in the house with compact fluorescent bulbs, and installing timer switches on things such as closet lights and bathroom fans.
Next we put all of our entertainment systems on power strips so we can shut them off with one switch. We added a "smart strip" to our entertainment center, which turns off all of the things such as DVD players when the TV is off. Many home entertainment devices such as TiVo draw power even when plugged in.
Your HVAC system can be one of the biggest energy users in your home. To make your home super energy efficient you need to help it to run less often. To accomplish this you will need to boost the existing insulation in your attic along with other measures.
The next step in making our home super energy efficient was to cool down the attic. After finding all of the energy wasters in the house below, we went up and inspected our attic. In the attic we found that the builder had only installed R-19 insulation in the form of fiberglass batts. We rented a machine from Home Depot and bought nearly forty bales of cellulose insulation and on a weekend, blew it in the attic. Total cost was $800 for the insulation, including machine rental. We noticed a difference in how much the air conditioning unit outside was running almost immediately after installing the new insulation.
We also noticed that our home's attic was very poorly ventilated. We added a rooftop solar powered vent and three "whirlybird" vents which exhaust hot air when the wind turns them. In addition, we cut holes along the eaves of the house, spaced every three feet, and installed vent covers over them to allow more air to flow into the attic. Now our attic is about thirty to forty degrees Fahrenheit cooler on a hot day.
More Ways To Make Your Home Super Energy Efficient
To make your home super energy efficient you need to upgrade your hot water heater.
Aside from air conditioning and heating, next major energy user in a home is your hot water heater. To make your home super energy efficient you need to find a better way of heating water. These ways include solar hot water and "on demand" water heating systems that only make hot water when we use it. We chose to go the solar route.
Our city offered a rebate on solar hot water systems through the electric utility energy saver program. We filed the necessary paperwork and had a company install a solar roof mounted hot water heater. Our cost for the unit, out of pocket will be $1800 after the city and federal tax rebates. This appears to have cut our electricity bill by about fifty dollars a month it and of itself. If you cannot afford to replace your home's hot water heater, cover it with an insulating jacket help it work more efficiently and lower the water heater's thermostat a few degrees to reduce the amount of energy it uses. Water heater insulating jackets are sold at most hardware stores and online.
The other thing we did to make our home more energy efficient was to install a programmable thermostat on our HVAC system. . We set the programmable thermostate to allow the temperature of the house to go up to 85 degrees, during the time we are away, and then begin to cool down the house just before we come home. This has reduced the amount of thime the air conditioner runs in the summer by about forty percent and helped lower our energy bills.
Other Ways To Make Your Home Super Energy Efficient
In addition to the changes above that helped make our home super energy efficient, we replaced our fridge (which had quit working anyway), with an Energy Star rated model. The new one is much quieter and runs about half as much.
Another energy saver that we installed was solar window screens. Again our city's power company paid for part of these. They block about 85% of the sun's heat from reaching our west facing windows and allow the air conditioner to run even less often.
To make your home super energy efficient you should consider planting trees that shade the home during summer, but which lose their leaves in the fall so that solar heat can warm the home in winter. Trees that are good for this purpose include maple and ash.
Through a combination of home improvements and lifestyle changes we have helped make an ordinary home super energy efficient and saved a bundle on our electricity bill. We expect to recoup the roughly $3000 spent in about a year and a half.
To assist you in making your home super energy efficient you might consider hiring an energy rater. Those who are RESNET certified can offer a package of testing that will determine what areas of your home need attention.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Nolen Hart