Work Your Way Toward a Zero-Energy Home With These 10 TipsPublished on: January 10, 2014
Whether you’re trying to help save the environment or looking for ways to lower your monthly energy bills, numerous techniques can be employed to lower your energy usage. In fact, if you follow the 10 tips that we’ve compiled below, you’ll go a long way toward becoming a zero-energy home:
What It Means to be a Zero-Energy Home
It’s important that you realize exactly what it means to be considered a zero-energy home. The goal is to make changes, reductions, installations, etc., that will allow your home to produce the same amount of energy as it uses. Just imagine – in the future, you could very well find yourself paying no money at all for energy. But even if you can’t achieve this due to budgetary or other reasons, implementing even some of these tips will help lower your energy bill, bringing you closer to being a zero-energy home:
- Change your lightbulbs – If you’re still using incandescent bulbs, you’re throwing your money away. Even newer bulbs, which use about 25 percent less energy than older types, can’t compare to CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). These use an amazing 70-80 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. Just be aware that they must be recycled due to the small amount of mercury inside.
- Turn off lights and appliances – We’re betting that your parents tried to drill into your head the importance of turning off lights whenever you leave a room. Truth is, it’s a great habit to get into, and you’ll save even more if you can utilize natural sunlight. Also turn off appliances when they’re not in use, because the small amount of power that they’re drawing can quickly add up.
- Replace your furnace – Furnaces last a long time, but they tend to lose their efficiency over time. Plus, older models often have an AFUE (annual fuel utilization efficiency) of 56-70 percent, while newer ones have an AFUE as high as 97 percent.
- Update your A/C – It won’t be long before temperatures begin to rise again, so now is a great time to evaluate your cooling system. If your equipment is run-down, especially if it’s more than 10 years old, a new A/C might be your best bet. Although the initial cost may be a bit hefty, newer units are much more efficient at using energy and do a better job of removing moisture.
- Install low-flow fixtures – Between washing dishes, bathing, watering your lawn and similar chores, your use of water can escalate quickly. A great way to cut a large portion of your water usage is to install low-flow fixtures in your kitchen and bathroom. Not only will you use less water, but since most low-flow shower heads and faucets aerate water, you’ll see savings to your hot water costs.
- Seal air leaks – Cracks and holes throughout your home can waste a surprising amount of energy because your HVAC system will be forced to work harder to compensate for the lost conditioned air. If you’re not confident in your ability to locate and seal the leaks, hire a professional HVAC technician for the job.
- Improve your insulation – If your home has inadequate insulation, you’re likely seeing a significant amount of heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer. There are online guides you can utilize to help you figure out the type and amount of insulation you should be using, but as before, hiring a technician can definitely help.
- Use Energy Star appliances – The Energy Star label will ensure that you’re getting an appliance that exceeds minimum energy-efficiency standard without sacrificing performance. If you really want to make an impact on your energy usage, focus on appliances in Energy Star’s Most Efficient category.
- Replace or modify old windows – During the cold months of the year, you’ll experience a good amount of heat loss through single-pane windows. To put a stop to this, upgrade to low-U-value, low-E windows to cut your heating bill by as much as one-fourth.
- Utilize renewable energy – Even if you follow all of the tips above, not adding a source of renewable energy will keep you from balancing out the energy you’re using. The most popular source is solar energy, though geothermal is gaining in use with homeowners as well.
For more expert advice on how to work your way toward a zero-energy home, or for any questions related to home comfort, please contact us. We can hook you up with reliable contractors in the Southeast U.S.