What does “energy efficient” mean, and how do I save energy in my home?
If your goal is to improve the energy efficiency of your home, you can start to make big differences at relatively small expense. Some of these improvements may even get you a rebate from your power company, and will definitely increase the resale value of your property!
First off, what does “energy efficiency” even mean?
The energy usage of your home contributes to how much your monthly electric bill will be. Depending on when your house was built, your energy bill could be dramatically reduced by just making a few small improvements. This will result in savings month over month, ultimately cancelling out the cost of these improvements over time.
There are many places to start, but we’ll cover the least expensive options first.
Start with an Energy Audit
It’s important to know where you’re starting from in terms of energy usage. Depending on who your power provider is, you may be able to do a free online energy audit. This is a simple questionnaire that asks about your home to make sure that you’re hitting the right marks to lower your monthly bill as much as possible. Generally, you can find this on the provider’s website home page or in their billing section.
Another option is to have an efficiency inspector come out in person to inspect your home. It is in the best interest of the power company to conserve energy, so often times this service is very affordable or may even be offered free of charge. The inspector will come out and look at common problem areas that we will discuss further in this article. If issues are found, they will provide solutions to improve or fix them entirely.
Install Efficient Bulbs in Your Light Fixtures
Introduced in the 1980s, Compact Fluorescent(CFL) bulbs promised to increase energy efficiency for light fixtures. They did well on reducing energy usage, but could be improved upon even further. Around 2008, the Light Emitting Diode(LED) became the gold standard for energy efficiency in lighting. Whereas most of the energy used by an incandescent bulb is lost to heat, the LED produces next to no heat comparatively. This lends highly to its increased energy efficiency.
Reducing your energy usage by a substantial amount can be as easy as replacing your lightbulbs. If your house has fifteen incandescent 60 watt lightbulbs, simply changing those to LED style bulbs could reduce your annual energy cost by 87 dollars! This amounts to around $7.25 per month.
Check Window and Door Edges for Air Leaks
One of the most common ways that conditioned air leaves the home is through improperly sealed windows and doors. You can sometimes even feel the air moving through the gaps when you’re standing outside!
An easy way to solve this issue is to re caulk the edges of the windows. You can also install new weather stripping and door sweeps on your exterior doors. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this job yourself, you can hire a professional to do it for a relatively low cost.
My Windows are Still Killing My Electric Bill! What Can I Do?
Most older windows are just plain inefficient, even if you make the afore-mentioned improvements. Manufacturing and design has come a long way, and windows reflect that. If you feel like resealing your windows isn’t enough, you may want to consider replacing your windows with more energy efficient and durable double pane windows.
Because of the way new windows are manufactured and installed, they create an airtight seal between the outside environment and the inside of your house. Additionally, the plastic layer between the glass panes is often UV resistant. This allows the light from the sun to come through, but not the heat. This will save on cooling costs during the hottest months of the year. Each window installed will have an “NFRC” sticker that is checked during final inspection. You can usually send this efficiency information to your electric company to get a rebate on your monthly bill.
If you think that new windows might be the solution for your home, please call us at 813-657-2090 or schedule a free in-home consultation online!
If you'd like to learn more about the different types of vinyl replacement windows, check out our recent blog post.
This blog is part of a series. Stay tuned for the next article!