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There are many strategies for saving energy efficiency and costs. On this page is an Energy Checklist and Additional Improvements you can do to make your home more energy efficient.
The strategies start with turning off lights and electronics when you leave a room and lead to large energy upgrades such as replacing a furnace or hot water heater with ENERGY STAR equipment. ENERGY STAR products are tested to ensure that they conform to U.S. EPA energy-efficiency standards. If you are unsure about where to start, contact your local energy advisor, available in most parts of Colorado.
A makeover can transform your house into an energy efficient, cost-saving, comfortable place to retire after a busy day. These are the keys to success:
5 Secrets to an Energy Efficient HomeAssess your Home's Energy Efficiency
Insulation will help your home to reduce its heating and cooling needs and so will reduce energy costs. A tight, well-insulated house requires smaller heating and cooling systems. To maximize insulation effectiveness, a building should be insulated from top to bottom with attention applied to the foundation, floors, exterior walls, the attic and the HVAC system.
An energy audit will give the best advice to type and amount of insulation required. The “R-Value,” the measurement of a material’s resistance to heat flow, rates insulation. The higher the R-Value, the better the insulation is. A home energy audit will help to determine the needed R-Value of insulation for your home.
Air leaks in a home can account for 30% of a home’s heating and cooling costs. Proper air sealing not only cuts down heating and cooling loss, it provides durability and a more comfortable environment. Air sealing creates and energy-efficient home with insulation, ventilation and moisture control.
Once leaks have been identified, caulk, weather stripping and expanding spray foam can seal them.
Proper air sealing also will:
#AskEnergySaver: Air SealingFind and Seal Air Leaks
Running appliances and electronics accounts for about 20% of a residential energy bill. Most appliances that use electricity, such as televisions, computers and kitchen appliances, draw “stand-by” power and increase the appliance’s energy consumption when they are switched off. This energy overuse can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or electronic or by using a power strip that can switch the power off.
There are ways to increase energy efficiency:
Appliances & ElectronicsEnergy Saving TipsHome Electronics
If you’re a typical homeowner, you spend about $1,900 each year on energy bills — and as much as half of that amount goes to heating and cooling your home. It makes sense to look carefully at your heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and evaluate whether there are changes you could make to reduce your energy bill and improve your comfort and safety.
A central furnace or boiler's efficiency is measured by annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) that is a percentage of the fuel used to heat the home compared to percentage of fuel that goes up the chimney. For example, with a furnace that is 65% efficient, 65% of the fuel you buy goes to heat your home, while 35% is wasted. Many newer furnaces are more than 90% efficient and boilers 85% efficient.
There are a variety of changes you can make to improve energy efficiency, from simple maintenance to system replacement. Some of these you can do on your own; for others, you may wish to (or need to) hire an HVAC contractor. Here are the four main areas where you can make improvements to increase the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling equipment.
There are many different types of heating and cooling systems and some systems can both heat and cool.
Use a load calculation such as Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual J to properly size the equipment. This calculation takes into account the size of your home, insulation levels, and other information to properly size your air conditioner, furnace, or heat pump system. It is the most important step you should take, even before choosing a higher efficiency model. A properly sized system will keep you comfortable and work more efficiently.
Use a duct-sizing methodology such as the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) Manual D.
Check local regulations regarding permits and location for new or replacement of cooling and heating systems.
Heating water for home use takes a lot of energy and water heating is one area where it’s easy to make small changes that make a big difference in your energy bill.
Warm showers and baths, automatic and hand dishwashing, and other everyday tasks quickly add up to a lot of hot water usage. In fact, water heating is likely second only to heating and cooling your home in terms of energy use. The average homeowner’s cost of water heating is $400-$600 each year.
If you’re like most Americans, your water heater isn’t optimized to save you money, but you can make changes that make a difference.
Hot water heaters efficiency rating is called an Energy Factor or EF. The scale starts at 0 and moves up to and can go above 1, with the higher the number the more efficient the model. In Colorado, many homes use natural gas to heat their water that is stored in a tank. The following table can provide a loose guideline on the efficiency of your current water heater (gas models only).
Choosing the right water heater depends on many variables, including the amount of hot water your family needs and the alternative and conventional power sources available in your house and region. Though a new water heater can be expensive, the energy savings will continue through the life of the product, making it a great move in the long term.
There are many options to consider:
The fuel type, the amount of hot water you need every day will factor into the type and size of your new hot water heater. Be sure to ask your installer to calculate the size and provide an evaluation of the different types of hot water heaters. It may or may not make sense to switch between gas and electric or storage versus tankless, but do not pass up the opportunity to go over the changes in the hot water heating market.
Also be sure to check local regulations regarding size, location, venting and fuel restrictions for water heaters.
Water HeatingENERGY STAR Qualified Water Heaters—Which Type is Right for You?High Efficiency Water Heaters Fact Sheet
Lighting costs represent about 10% of an average home’s energy use. About $50 a year could be saved by replacing 15 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs. LED light bulbs are six to seven times more energy-efficient than incandescent light bulbs.
Lighting controls can help to save energy:
Types of LightingLighting
Demand for solar in the United States is at an all-time high. A rising popularity in solar power has resulted in lower costs. However, it remains more cost effective to consider solar power only if the house is on the grid. Costs for owning a 2KW to a 5KW system would be between $6,000 and $15,000 for an on-grid home with a typical payback of 17 years before federal or utility incentives.
Government encouragement to use solar offers a tax credit to pay for 30% of the cost of solar panel installation. And, solar may increase the value of your home. Click here for the Photovoltaic Systems Case Study.
Community solar gardens bring grid-connected subscribers together in energy savings. Colorado’s Community Solar Gardens Act of 2012 allows subscribers to receive bill credits for their solar participation. At least 10 customers will own a subscription.
There are other financial advantages to using solar systems. It is possible to lease a solar power system or to take on a SolarPPA, which allows the homeowner to purchase the solar system at any time after five years. A solar lease leaves system monitoring, repair and insurance coverage in the hands of the owner. There is a lower energy rate and a locked-in energy price for as many as 20 years.
The Clean Energy Home Loan Program allows owners and renters a financing option for community solar. Loan terms are for three, five, seven, 10 or 20 years. Interest rates start at 2.25% for three years.
Solar Power—Has Its Time Come?How Much Does a Solar System Cost?Solar Leases & PPAs
Top 6 Things You Didn't Know About Solar EnergyLightStream Solar Financing
Turning your home’s thermostat back 7°-10° F during your eight-hour day at work could save 10% a year on heat and air conditioning energy costs. A programmable thermostat will automatically handle multiple changes during the day. Some thermostat overrides can be handled remotely with computer access.
A thermostat will heat or cool a home properly when it is placed on an interior wall out of the direct sunlight and without air flow blocks.
Tips: Programmable ThermostatsEnergy Saving Tips
During the cold winter months, about one-quarter of a home’s heat loss is due to faulty windows and doors. Leaky windows and doors can carry cold air into a house and transport warm air outside.
Windows with cracked glass, damaged wood, a total absence of putty or that simply don’t fit probably will need to be repaired or replaced. However, many windows will do well with an energy-efficient upgrade with caulking or weather stripping. Rope caulking will cost about $1 per window, and weather stripping about $8 to $10 per window.
If you live in an historic home or would like to save your current wood windows, simply repairing the windows and adding an interior or exterior storm window can add to your comfort and utility bill savings. To learn more about repairing historic windows, the North Carolina Historic Preservation Society has great information of their Historic Windows & Energy Efficiency page.
Windows, Doors, & SkylightsWindows and Doors