Posts Tagged ‘energy savings’

Take control of your Home’s Energy Usage during the Holidays

November 25, 2014

title-ghaWow, the holiday season is here.  It seems to come quicker every year.  This week as you celebrate Thanksgiving, don’t forget to save some energy.  It turns out that the kitchen accounts for about 15% of the home’s energy.  With holiday traditions often including extra baking and entertaining, your kitchen will be getting quite the work out.  Here are a few tips to keep your energy costs down:

Reuse the heat.  Using the stove and oven will generate more heat in your house.  To offset the cost, turn down your thermostat.  And, with the extra heat from the kitchen, you won’t need the thermostat up so high.

Stock the fridge with leftovers.  Don’t be afraid to pack your fridge tight with leftovers.  Having a full fridge helps reduce the energy it needs to keep your foods cool.

Keep your burners clean.  Clean burners mean less grime and less grime means less energy needed to heat the burner.  Regular maintenance might be a pain, but it will pay off in the long run.

Just a few small changes can go a long way in saving energy and of course, money, all without compromising your holiday.  Enjoy your time with family and friends.  Give thanks for the many blessings that surround you.  And, if you need help saving even more energy in your home, give us a call.  We are happy to help.

Thanks for stopping by!
-April

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Are you ready for some football?

September 11, 2014

Football fans chearing on their team

It is official, we have begun another season of football.  Last Thursday, the 4th was the official kick off to the NFL season between the Seahawks and the Packers.  26.9 million people tuned into to watch these two teams battle for victory.  As the season progresses we can only expect those numbers to climb.  As those in your home tune into football, make sure you aren’t wasting money at the hands of your TV.  Our friends at ENERGY STAR have developed a list of the most energy efficient televisions in 2014 in three different categories:  Televisions under 35 inches, Televisions from 35 inches to 50 inches and Televisions over 50 inches.  Go ahead and check them out.  Whether your team wins or loses, at least you are saving money through it all.

While your TV can provide some relief on your utility bills, try other energy saving techniques like changing out your incandescent light bulbs or getting a home energy audit.

And, best of luck to your team this season.

Thanks for stopping by!

-April

Oh No, Here Comes Another Learning Experience!

October 24, 2013

energy action

Nothing like learning from our experiences or mistakes is there?  Becoming aware of our energy use, naturally leads to finding ways to reduce that usage.  In celebration of Energy Action month you could really geek out on some resources out there like this from the National Academy of Sciences, But to make it relevant and to “bring it home” consider a  home energy assessment.

A good energy advisor will be able to help you in your energy awareness right where it matters most.  Look for an assessment of your home that also provides solutions you can act on, not just a list of problems.  Awareness is a great start,  and embracing the learning experience with action is putting the right foot forward and that is what October is all about.

 

Thanks,

Jason

NIMBY, no wait YIMBY!

July 26, 2013

Sun_PylonWe need power. We heat and cool our homes, run our devices with it, and what we use is limited to what we produce or generate.  Energy use in the summer often puts a strain on the grid, and we are redlining at times.

Some forms of power generation are less desirable than others, they come at a cost.  Nuclear power for example is great stuff, until things go wrong, or we have to find a place for the waste.  That’s when some folks cry “Not in My Back Yard”.

Fracking, the process of injecting high pressure liquids deep in the ground to release natural gas, could produce 15 million barrels of oil a day by 2050 the U.S., mentioned in this article according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.   This certainly helps liberate us from foreign oil dependency, but it has also been criticized by the NIMBY crowd.

My intentions are not to judge good or bad, or right or wrong here but I will weigh in on this from the same article:  Investing in already available technologies to increase energy efficiency can save 23 million barrels of oil a day.  This is the stuff we love.  Better Insulation, more efficient appliances, more efficient homes!   That sounds a lot like Home Performance.

Yes in my back yard. Please!

Thanks,

Jason

Sun picture from Stefan Wernli

Fixes for Hidden Costs Reveal Hidden Benefits!

April 12, 2012

The offender in many folks’ minds when it comes to pollution is the automobile, not our homes.  It seems to be ingrained in our heads that automobiles are the worst offenders; I won’t discourage alternatives.   But, in fact, we generate twice as much carbon dioxide emissions as we consume coal, oil, and natural gas—directly or indirectly—in our homes.

Hidden CostImagine what happens if we cut the energy use in our homes by half?  The scale might balance out for sure, but there are definitely more benefits, saving money for one.  We do this on a daily basis.  Improving their home’s insulation and air tightness, heating and cooling systems, and more, will typically save our customers at least 25%, but often much more.

It all starts with a comprehensive home assessment which helps drive pollution and energy cost reduction in the home.  But the biggest impact we hear about from our customers is how comfortable that drive can be!  The end result we sometimes forget about is the level of comfort revealed after the job is done.

Thanks,

Jason

Image from the DOE’s home energy saver website

If windows save you 50% on energy costs, install twice as many and stop paying utility bills all together!

February 28, 2012

Ok, that’s quite a wild claim and one clearly not possibleBut the Washington post  last  week reported that “Replacement-window firms agree to settlement with Federal Trade Commission”.  The problem has been the “’exaggerated and unsupported’ claims about their products’ energy efficiency”.  Yes indeed.  Don’t get me wrong, we like windows, and in many locations across the country we replace them too.   But you won’t hear us say they will save you 50% on your energy bill!

Right here we’ve talked about windows many times in the past. Windows are often replaced because the existing  ones are broken, inoperable or for aesthetic reasons. As far as energy efficiency is concerned, however, at GreenHomes America it has always been our position to improve insulation and air sealing first, then take a look at heating, cooling, duct and hot water systems next.  These are the common problems found in most people’s homes. Window replacement will save energy, but the energy savings will be modest. So remember, if you hear outlandish energy savings claims about replacement windows that  sound too good to be true…  it probably is!

Thanks,

Jason

 

What’s all the hubbub about the “green button”?

January 20, 2012

White House PGE announce the Green ButtonThe White House announced that PG&E, and San Diego Gas & Electric have launched the “green button”, an online tool that allows customers to download their own energy data.

[Watch California utilities PG&E, and San Diego Gas & Electric in the video of the Green Button launch.]

That is certainly good news.  We’ve long used a good look an utility bill history and energy usage to help figure out what going on in a home.  Something that makes it easier for a homeowner to track down that history is a good thing.  And we look forward to a host of third-party aps that can help consumers save energy and money.

But from the hoopla, you’d think our energy woes are over.

Not so fast.  Access to household energy use data is really important.  And Facebook aps might be fun.  But when it’s 105 degrees out and you have a poorly insulated house, with south- and west-facing glass, and an old air-conditioner, are you going to be able to stay comfortable without paying a lot of money to the utilities?  No.  Good information helps, but it doesn’t change physics.  To make your home more comfortable and not break the bank with utility bills, you’ve got to make actual improvements!

And the fundamentals still apply.  You need good insulation and air-sealing, tight duct work, efficient heating and cooling equipment, efficient lighting.  And you also need to know if your water heater, furnace, or any other combustion appliance in your home is operating safely and efficiently.  The green button won’t don’t that for you.

Energy Upgrade CaliforniaFortunately, for California residents, the statewide Energy Upgrade California (EUC) program can provide up to $4,000 in rebates to help make smart improvements (some cities and counties are offering even more in matching rebates).  And certified contractors can give you access to these incentives. GreenHomes America partners have BPI-certified staff, and can provide access to the EUC incentives.

The best way to find out what you might qualify for is to have a real home energy audit conducted by a participating contractor—and then get the rebate by having the contractor make the improvements.  You can contact participating experts in the following areas to learn more:

So bring the green button on.  Check it out.  Easier access to utility information is great (after all, we’re paying the bills, aren’t we—shouldn’t we be able to get the information?)  Kudos to PG&E and SDGE for stepping up to lead the nation with this.  The rest of the country?  Well, a handful of additional uttilies have said they’re interested, so stay tuned.  And if GreenHomes has a location near you, we’ll help you find applicable rebates, incentives, and loans.

But if you want a more comfortable, healthier, and more energy-efficiency home, data alone won’t do it.  A good home assessment followed by the right, professionally installed, measures, will.

Cheers,
Mike

Breaking the dependence on oil

November 15, 2011

Maine Governor Paul LePage has recently called for a 50% reduction in the use of oil for heating in the state.   Maine is a heavy user when it comes to heating oil.  80% of our homes here are oil heated.  To cut that useage in half by 2014 is an ambitious goal, for sure.  LePage suggests doing this by switching to natural gas and wood pellets. 

There are efforts to move towards natural gas in the state, and I encourage it.  It won’t be fast, however.  While the distribution system is slowly growing, it is not there now.  As for pellets, they are readily available, but if demand for them increases so might cost.   Furthermore, most residential wood burning systems require the user to be hands on.  The pellets don’t fill the stove themselves, and the ashes don’t empty themselves.   This is the same reason why 80% heat with oil instead of wood, also abundant in the Pine Tree state.

What is missing in this discussion is our dependence on BTU’s.  In other words, the focus should be on energy use, first, not fuel source.   Switching fuels doesn’t solve the problem of inefficient leaky homes heating the great outdoors.  It’s like an addict going from one fix to another because it’s cheaper, and they can get more for less.   Fuel switching is treating the symptom and not the problem. 

Weatherization efforts, increased efficiencies of heating equipment, and fuel switching when it makes sense, can have a much greater impact, and a much lower long term cost, than fuel switching alone. Efficiency Maine and the many contractors who have worked with these programs have been chipping away at this.  Tux Turkel from the Maine Sunday telegram reported recently, “Maine residents slashed their heating oil use by 45% between 2004 and 2009.”  We routinely save people that much off of their oil bills.  Governor, we can do this, but let’s treat the real problem and break our dependence on wasteful heating.   

Photo by David L Ryan  boston.com

Don’t wait for Congress. Start SAVE-ing now.

November 8, 2011

Earlier this year, we featured a post from Laura Stukel on the total cost of home ownership.  Historically in the mortgage industry, this has included—or I should say been limited to—“PITI”, Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance.  Laura wisely argues that misses several costs, including the non-trivial cost of utilities.  While the average homeowner may pay $2,000 in utility costs, some people pay 2-3 times that amount, and those electric, gas, or oil bills can take a huge chunk out of the family budget.

As Consumer Reports highlighted yesterday, a new bill introduced in the Senate would change the underwriting and appraisal guidelines used by the mortgage industry to add to PITI the cost of heating and cooling a home.  (Maybe we’ll call it PITIU?).  This would help prospective buyers avoid budget-busting homes where they’ve get into trouble and have to choose between mortgage, utilities, or food on the table.  It would also reward more efficient homes.

Of course, readers here know that you don’t have to wait for an act of Congress to more your home more comfortable and energy efficient.  You can start today with a good energy audit, make the improvements that make sense for you, and start SAVE-ing right now.  Go figure!

Cheers,
Mike

“Amish Heaters”: Hogwash in a box

October 28, 2011

Mike’s mentioned those “Amish Heaters” lately. Here’s a video clip from a few years back from Consumers Reports, an unbiased source. Nothing wrong with these heaters per se, but you have to read pretty carefully not to be mislead.  I do have to say they are awfully expensive for what they do.  You might be better off with a $20 dollar electric space heater.  As the video points out, you won’t save any money unless you turn the heat down in the rest of the house.  Hmmm, sounds uncomfortable. 

Vodpod videos no longer available.

posted with vodpod
 

Stay warm, 

Jason


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