Posts Tagged ‘energy cost’

WSJ clip: Small Fixes Lead to Big Savings

March 24, 2009

The Wall Street Journal posted this video to their site.  It gives a good sense of what a home energy audit entails in a short clip, with some blower door footage. 

GreenHomes gets a nice mention, and that’s our Senior Advisor, John Scipione, with the infrared camera.

Mike

Cold Winter Predicted!

August 27, 2008

If you were banking on a warm winter to save you this year, you might be in trouble. On the radio yesterday, I heard that the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting colder than average temperatures for most regions of the U.S.  Cold temperatures combined with high-energy costs could spell big trouble for a lot of homeowners.  
 
Now, I don’t know how sophisticated or accurate the Almanac’s predictions are—on their website, they state “People who follow our forecasts claim our accuracy rate is about 80–85%.” I suspect there’s a good deal of vagueness surrounding the accuracy rate, and I’d take the prediction with a grain of salt.
 
But what if it pans out, and it is a cold winter?  Even “warm” winters are usually cold in most parts of the country.  Some people could be facing heating bills more the twice what they were a year ago.  Some could be spending literally thousands of dollars.  That’s scary.
 
The word on the street from some oil users is they’ve filled their tanks, and they have enough cash to make it into January, but other that, they’re not sure how they’ll afford to heat their homes.  That’s scarier.
 
I know I’m beating the same drum, but that’s because it’s giving the right message.  Energy-efficiency is the best hedge against both rising energy prices and the weather.  I wouldn’t want to bet my economic future on being able to predict either.  And I certainly don’t want to be completely at the mercy of either.  I don’t have to be.  And neither do you.  By making your home more energy efficient, you’re less susceptible to the price of oil coming out of the Middle East or flowing through a pipeline that Russia and Georgia might be fighting over.  You’re less susceptible to cold winters or hot summers (or even power outages—we need to talk about “passive survivability” soon).

Whatever the Almanac, the National Weather Service, or Uncle Elmer are predicting in terms of weather, I predict those who take action to make their homes more energy-efficient will win big in the coming years.  And the earlier they start, the bigger they’ll win.

Mike

10 Simple Home Energy Saving Tips

August 14, 2008

Even a mild winter means a long heating season, and with the cost of energy spiraling ever upwards, homeowners are looking for ways to stay within their heating budget. Dialing down the thermostat is one obvious solution, but there are some simple things you can do now to achieve significant savings on energy, while still keeping your family comfortable. Here are ten tips from GreenHomes America that will help you keep the bills down, and comfort up, this winter:1.     The attic is a great place to start.  Air leaks from rooms below into the attic can be one of the biggest drains on energy and your bank account.  Sealing attic air leaks can have a huge impact.  

2.    Use caulk or foam to seal around the plumbing stack vent, where it goes through floors. This is a pipe (PVC, or cast iron in older homes) that runs from the basement sewer pipe up through every floor, and out through the roof.   Holes for electric wiring, and around chimneys, are also problem areas worth addressing.

3.     Insulate and air-seal your attic hatch. Often, builders overlook the hatch when they insulate the attic.

4.     Many homes today have recessed ceiling lights, also called can lights. These fixtures look great, but are a notorious source of heat leaks into the attic, and between floors.  You can install new air-tight fixtures, use air-tight baffles, or build air-tight boxes around them in the attic.  With existing fixtures, check with an electrician first to make sure the fixtures you have are “IC” rated so it’s safe to put insulation against them.

5.     Only after you’ve done air-sealing, put an extra layer of insulation on the attic floor, on top of the insulation you currently have there.  Sixteen to 24-inches is not excessive in cold climates—and it will keep you cooler in the summer too!

6.    Vents to the outside of your home are pipelines for cold air leaking in, and warm air leaking out.  Install one-way baffles on your kitchen fan vent, dryer vent, and bathroom fan vents.

7.    Keep your boiler and furnace tuned up.   If they’re reaching the end of their lifespan, consider replacing with a high-efficiency unit, one that at least qualifies for Energy Star®.   

8.    Install and use a programmable thermostat—this ensures that you don’t forget to turn the heat down at night or while you’re away at work.

9.    Do you have a forced air heating or cooling system? If so, make sure to seal and insulate the ductwork in attics and crawl spaces. As much as 30% of the air you heat (or cool in the summer) can escape outside through leaky ducts.

10.  Replacing appliances? Look for Energy Star® qualified models of dishwashers, refrigerators, light fixtures, and compact fluorescent bulbs.

With some advice from your local home center, and four or five free weekends, a handy homeowner can tackle all of these projects. The energy savings, and effect on comfort, are cumulative, so do as many as you can. If you don’t relish the idea of strapping on a tool belt, consider a contractor that specializes in home energy solutions. GreenHomes America , is one option that can complete the entire scope of work in a few days. Their whole-home solutions guarantee a minimum 25% reduction in energy consumption, with most customers seeing much higher reductions, often up to 40, 50 and 60 percent. And whether you do the work yourself or you have it done by a contractor, after you tighten the house you should have any combustion equipment like furnaces and water heaters tested to make sure they’re running safely and efficiently.


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