Home Energy Reduction Tips

Home energy audit service, watch the 1.5-minute video above.  Chris in the video, is my energy coach colleague.

If your California gas and electric company is PG&E, sign up for this free service here.  By the way, you already pay for this service monthly as a line item on your utility bill.  If you are not a PG&E customer, you can follow the guidelines below to make your home more energy-efficient.  Doing these easy steps will save you money every month and reduce energy waste.

Energy Audit Details
Our priority is inexpensive fixes with high energy savings for you.  Upgrading windows and installing a new furnace can come second to the simpler, less expensive tips below. 

Walkthrough Guideline
We follow this guideline when performing a walk-through of your home in person or on the phone.  We’re experts, we combine PG&E smart meter data and building science when advising.

– Replace key location (high-use) bulbs w LED bulbs, bring bulb to Home Depot, 2700k or 3000k rated bulb is pleasant warm color, 5000k is less desirable color for many people
– Check water heater temperature. Test, go to sink closest to water heater, test with hand under water, is it too hot? If so, you are overheating (paying for this energy) and mixing in cold water. Fix is turn down the temperature dial, check shower temp in a few days where it really matters.
– Check for hot water recirc water pump at the water heater, adjust or install a timer
– Do you have radiant baseboard heaters in any rooms? Make sure they are off in summer. Mini split heater / air conditioner is more efficient. Let’s talk.
– HVAC (your heating/air conditioning system name) Do you have cold rooms? Check register vents directing air in one smooth flow, non-tumble or turbulence. Have HVAC technician review.
– HVAC heater needs to be using setback programmable thermostat?
– HVAC, install clean filter for heating system (yearly), check if wider filter can fit, they are more efficient, buy from Amazon
– HVAC, cold rooms? Duct work highly likely has leaks, have contractor reseal with mastic (we’ve learned in a few years, tape-only deteriorates) Run the fan and hand check air flow in register of colder rooms.
– HVAC attic insulation settles over time, have thickness checked by contractor, add if needed, inexpensive
– We suggest a whole house fan on upper floor to reduce air-conditioning load
– Chimney leak, use glass doors in front, or block air flow with fireplace insert, POST non-functioning fireplace notice – no fires allowed.
– Anyone cold at night? Use electric bed heating pad (foot area only), they auto off 2-3 hours, use socks, really!
– Is your bathroom floor warmed electrically, turn it off during summer? May need to be turned off at breaker.
– Heated towel rack? Turn off during summer. May need to be turned off at breaker.

Heating Season Focus – COLD ROOM FIXES – (priority is low-cost first to higher-priced)

Our focus here is to optimize your building envelope (exterior walls, ceilings, doors, windows, HVAC ducts) and your heating system efficiency which (we have found in our home audit experience) many time solves the cold room issue. Buying an expensive new heating system or a simple space heater are later recommendations after all the items below have been reviewed first.

– Caulk window trim outside to seal gaps
– Weather strip doors to the outside, be sure pet door closes fully
– Close fireplace damper (or install a fireplace balloon if not used), close fireplace doors or have glass doors installed
– Install heavy drapes to keep cold air away from room
– Install or adjust directional vents to move air to the cold areas of the room
– Have your HVAC duct work sealed (notoriously leaky) and air balance tested/adjusted by a professional
– Check/add to insulation in attic first, then insulate walls
– Windows replace with double pain glass
– Buy aux mini split heat pump system, outside install (inside units are louder and have condensate tray to clean)
– Buy resistance oil filled heater (upfront cost is low, but electricity use is high)

– See if the refrigerator is older, replace if more than 15 years, newer refrigerators will keep food cold longer, especially in during power shut offs
– Move refrigerator away from wall 4 inches, clean coils yearly with long brush and vacuum
– Open your refrigerator, check for full, check door seal for tears, check freezer for full or add water in container, keep min 80% full
– Turn off your second refrig, consolidate food into one
– Instant hot water at sink? Use a timer or turn off and use microwave or electric tea kettle (best, most efficient)
– Check if freezer is old (newer are more efficient) or full, if not full, add container with water to be block of ice
– Replace halogen bulbs with LED bulbs in cooktop vent
– Check air gaps around ceiling recessed lights (also known as can light).
– Do you have a second wine cooler with only a few bottles? If yes, consolidate, turn on only for parties or events in your home, then off next day
– Home entertainment systems, off with power strip
– Set-top box in the spare bedroom, off with power strip
– Older, unused VCR, unplug

– Check outdoor lighting use LED bulbs, use a timer
– Check flood lights, change to LED bulbs
– Check outdoor fountain pump, use timer or turn off, fill basin with river rock for aesthetics
– Check pool pumps on timer, both filter and sweep pumps should be on timers, 3-5 hours max needed to keep pool clean
– Pool pump, use variable speed motor, uses less energy
– Walk the outside, check for any areas of energy and other concerns, such as rodent intrusion, roof wear, rain water misdirection, etc

ELECTRIFICATION OF HOMES – Big Picture of Future All-Electric Homes
– Driving an EV is wise use of energy, 220 mile battery car is mature product, a smaller battery EV car (80 mile) car can be a used EV for around town use
– Solar panels (PV) provides electrical generation to battery, the battery is your backup and every day power use at night
– Battery backup for power outage, generate and store expensive power during day, use battery at night. Cleaner running than a gas generator
– Use an electric leaf blower and other electric garden tools. Have your gardener upgrade to electric.
– Induction cooktop has no burned gases, no NOX (unhealthy) in home, much healthier. Gas does not vent completely from a home in many cases.
– Check your electrical panel size, 200 amp is ideal for all electric home, 100 amp allows for only 1-2 larger electric upgrades (such as: EV car charger, heat pump water heater, induction cooktop with electric oven)
– Your water heater will fail in upcoming years, they all wear out. To prep for more efficient electric heat pump water heater (HPWH) install, in advance of the day it fails, have an electrician wire a 220v circuit to the current gas water heater location. You’ll be ready for an electric, energy saving upgrade.
– When you do replace your furnace, an electric mini-split heater and air conditioner is a wise choice. A mini-split can also supplement colder areas of your home.
– Cooler home in summer: Plant trees to shade your home, plant westerly and southerly locations

– I have: FEIT LED bulbs in my home, a ChargePoint EV charger at my home, I own a Nissan Leaf EV
– Have your friends, neighbors sign up for this free energy audit service at http://payless.hea.com direct link to my account, where full energy analysis of your home begins. I get paid based on your home energy savings by PG&E, so sign-up is important.
– This page is updated at sustaintimes.net/home, (including energy efficiency remodeling tips)
– Think Amp Diet which is wise electric use to match solar panel output, home usage and battery storage capacity.

rev: feb 2020

Sign up today at:  http://payless.hea.com/


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