Sustain Times

Home Energy Saving Tips too!

Upgrade Your Home – Reduce Energy – Installation Priorities

Here is our priority grouping for energy efficiency upgrading of your home.  Spend your money wisely on the biggest energy gains first.  Here’s how:

  1.  EASY TO INSTALL (do these first as they are low or no-cost; no contractor required)
  • Install LED bulbs throughout your home (don’t wait for old bulbs to burn out, it doesn’t pay to wait).
  • Add Blown Insulation for Walls  (and attic space too)
    Add Blown Insulation for Walls and Attic Space too)

    Install insulation in your attic space and walls (be sure to air seal first).

  • Turn down your water heater temperature to 120 degrees. (heating water too hot wastes gas energy, costs you more money.)
  • Configure a morning/evening timer for your existing 24/7 hot water recirculating system.  Do you have a recirc system?
  • Use power strips to turn off TV and audio equipment when not in use, reducing your standby power use.  Use a remote outlet if you can’t reach behind your wall-mounted big screen TV.
  • Install weather stripping and caulk around doors and windows to the outside.
  • Configure a timer for your pool pump (we’ve know 3-5 hours pump runtime will keep your pool clean).
  • Configure a timer for your hot tub water heater (lower the temperature by 10 degrees when not using it, cover the tub too).

2.  MODERATE EFFORT AND EXPENSE TO INSTALL (You can reduce your energy use with these moderate energy-saving investments; easy to find qualified contractors)

  • Install a hot water demand pump (this is one fix for a long wait for hot water in your shower).  Install this pump under your bathroom sink, rather than increase your hot water temperature.  Your water heating gas bill will be lower.
  • Drive an electric car/EV.  True, fueling a gas car is not part of your home energy, but is a major use of gasoline consumption and cars cause pollution.  We recommend you drive an electric car/EV and install a home EV charger.  There are so many gains here: EV’s are low maintenance, there is no smog check ever, also no tune-ups, no oil changes and electricity cost you less than gas per mile driven.
  • Install an energy efficient electric induction range and electric oven (when not cooking with gas, you will save money and your indoor air quality will improve too).  Here is a user story about cooking with this modern induction cooktop.
  • Install an electric heat pump clothes dryer (heat pumps are a better choice because they have a shorter cycle than condensing dryers).

3.  MORE WORK AND INVESTMENT TO INSTALL (do these after completing all the above, maybe sooner; contractors require more skill)

  • Solar panels (PV system which are electricity generating, not water heating); or buy solar/other clean energy from your local utility called community choice electric.
  • Install double-pane insulating windows, a good idea after you’ve air-sealed and insulated your home attic space and walls.
  • Heat pump water heater; wire the electric circuit before your gas water heater leaks and fails.  We recommend a larger water heater, 80 gallons in many cases.  Larger capacity increases your energy efficiency (look for rebates to offset install cost).  View an 80 gallon Rheem Ruud installation.
  • Backup home battery, great for power outages.  Soon, newer EVs will have Vehicle to Building function which will serve as a backup battery.
  • Replace your home roof, when required, especially before solar panel installation.  When doing this, include radiant barrier plywood or chipboard for the roof decking (decking is the wood the shingles are nailed to) and have a ridge vent installed to keep your home cooler during the summer months.  Also when replacing your roof, choose lighter colored shingles which will reflect more heat, keeping your home cooler in the summer.
Roof Ridge Vent Keeps Your Home Cooler During the Summer
Roof Ridge Vent Keeps Your Home Cooler During the Summer

4. LAST ARE THE MOST COMPLEX AND MOST EXPENSIVE TO INSTALL (highest contractor skill required)

Install a mini-split heat pump, also known as a heat pump space heater and air conditioner.  When you have a contractor install, be sure your contractor does these steps before install:
– Blower door test to check for your home air leaks
– Visually inspect home insulation, add if necessary
– Thermal scan of your home, check for energy leaks
– Load calculation to correctly size heating system to building load/requirements

Be sure your install contractor is qualified to handle the gas refrigerant used in heat pump systems.  Refrigerant leaks are a polluting gas that is unhealthy in our environment.

*Heat pump space heater is also commonly known as a mini-split heater and air conditioner, AC

MORE WAYS to reduce your home energy usage

Simple energy efficiency recommendations here.

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