Save money by reducing your home energy waste
43% of all consumer electrical consumption in the home is used for Heating and Cooling. Let’s look at the causes of why this is so high and what you can do to implement change to lower your home energy waste and put money back in your pocket.
Air Leaks: This section will cover Sole plate leaks, Electrical outlet leaks, Door/Window leaks, & Misc. Leaks. stop home energy waste with these simple tips.
- Sole plate Leaks: The number one cause of air leaks is where the walls meet the floor at ground level. These account for almost 25% of heating and cooling lose. From the mid 1980 on, builders started to install a foam gasket under the seal plates of the walls of your home. So if your home was build before this time this is probably a problem. The best way to fix this is to remove all of the base trim on the main floor of the home and caulk at the point where the floor meets the wall. Also if you have a crawl space or basement, make sure to insulate along this area.
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- Electrical Outlet Leaks: The second largest air leak in the home that accounts for 20% of wasted heating and cooling is around electrical outlets on exterior walls. Buy simply install inexpensive foam gaskets under the plate covers you can stop almost all air leaks from these areas.
- Door/Window Leaks: This area is not as easy to fix right unless you want to remove the moldings around each door and window. If you do want to tackle this then you can make sure the space between the door/window frame and the house frame is filled with insulation. If you do not want to tackle this project then make sure that all of the moldings surrounding the doors/windows are caulked all the way around.
- Misc. Leaks: These include fireplaces, ceiling lighting, exhaust fan, and other miscellaneous. These account for about 22% of the leaks and home energy waste. The area to concentrate on would be exhaust fans. Make sure that the piping/hose that leaves the fan to the outside is insulated and that the duct that connects to the house is caulked properly.
Home Mechanical: This includes the hot water tank, heating system, cooling system, and control system.
- Hot Water Tank: Newer tank less instant hot water systems are the most efficient, with high efficient tanked systems being the next best. Most homes still use standard water heater tanks. For these you can install a hot water tank insulation blanket. This can improve your efficiency and lower your operating cost. Also Insulate as much of the hot water piping as possible.
- Heating System: (forced air systems): We will only talk about forced air systems because they account for over 85% of all heating systems in the US. The biggest problem with these systems is duct work air leaks. In systems that do not have any of the duct work sealed it is not unusual to lose 35 to 50% of the systems efficiency. Sealing the duct joints and seams can be done with aluminum duct tape or duct sealant. Standard furnaces that are rated at 60% efficient only give you $.60 of heat for each $1 of fuel that you burn. It is recommended that you install a high efficiency unit that will return $.98 per dollar of heating cost. The cost difference in today’s market is only $400 to $600 difference then a lower efficient unit.
- Cooling System: Central air systems connect directly to your forced air system and window/through wall systems are what we will discuss. These cooling systems are rated with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) this shows the efficiency of the unit the higher the number the more efficient. For this unit to qualify for Energy Start rating it must have a rating of SEER 13 or higher. Window air conditioners air notorious for wasting energy in most cases because they are not being used properly. First they should only be used to cool a small contained space. Installing too small of a unit in a large space will run up the electrical bill fast. Next, the area surrounding the unit needs to be insulated. As for whole house central units replace units that are more then 15 years old with much higher MERV rated high efficiency units.
- Control System: You can save about 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills simply by turning your thermostat back about 12 degrees for 8 hours a day. You can easily do this automatically by installing a digital programmable thermostat. With the availability of multiple settings you can have the thermostat adjust the temperature numerous times a day and night to equal at least 8 hours of lower settings.
Home Insulation: This section will cover the areas of insulation, both new construction and retro fit. We will cover Attic/Ceiling, Crawlspace, Walls, & Doors/Windows. Every state has a different minimum value for each area. The charts below show the different zones for the US and what insulation is suggested for each section of the house. By following these guide line and preferably the maximum of the ranges given then you will be saving a lot of energy cost. Remember it is always better to spend a little more now and reap the rewards of saving more over the long term. If you are building new construction make sure to work with your builder and insist that they install the maximum insulation for the areas of your home. Spray foam insulation is becoming the new standard for super high value and should be considered if at all possible. This product has a much better ability to stop air flow because it is a continuous flow system with no gaps and creates a better thermal break. Insulating an attic to r44 is one of the easiest ways to stop home energy waste.
There are many things that you can do to cut the home energy waste and in-turn save money, these are only a few. By implementing these strategies you will be able to cut your cost and put more money back in your pocket over time.
Resources for this article were obtained from the US Department of Energy. More information can be found at www.engerysavers.gov.
Home energy waste is something that every person can help control. This is an area that citizens need to be vigilant in the future.
By: Tom Corliss