How a Professional Home Energy Audit Will Save You Money

home-energy-auditor

Do you feel like your home’s utility bills are higher than expected? If it costs more to heat your home in winter, chances are that it might cost more to cool your home in summer. But did you know that you can save anywhere between 5%-30% on your energy costs just by ordering an energy audit for your property?

Do I Need an Energy Audit?

If you are not sure if an energy audit is for you, answer the following questions:

  1. Are you remodeling?Thermographic-heat-inspection
  2. Do you want to “go green”?
  3. Do you have high utility bills?
  4. Are you interested in energy efficiency?
  5. Do you want to increase the value of your home?
  6. Are some areas of your home too hot or too cold?

What Exactly is an Energy Audits

An energy audit is an inspection and analysis of your property. The main purpose of this type of inspection is to determine the energy efficiency of your home. This may involve a room-by-room examination of your home. It also involves the analysis of several characteristics of your home, including the windows, ceiling, floors, doors and more.

Many professional energy assessments will include the following methods:

  • blower door test
  • thermographic scan

A “blower door” is a machine used to physically locate air leaks. The blower door fan is temporarily sealed into an exterior doorway using the door panel system. All the interior doors are opened, exterior doors are closed, and some other preparations are made. Once ready, the blower door fan blows air into or out of the home, creating either a positive or negative pressure differential that can be measured. It can also be used to test ductwork airtightness and measure airflow between zones.

A thermographic inspection makes use of an infrared scanning device to detect temperature variations on the interior or exterior of your property. The images collected by this device will help to determine whether or not insulation is required in certain areas.

Once testing has been completed, a written report estimating the energy efficiency of your home will be completed by the professional who did the audit. The report will take into consideration factors such the local climate criteria, roof overhang, as well as the solar orientation.

The auditor will also take other factors into consideration such as:

  • How many people live in the home?
  • Is anyone home during working hours?
  • Are there any areas not being used?
  • What is the average thermostat settings for summer and winter?

How To Prepare Your Home for an Energy Audits

When you are expecting an energy auditor, you should take some time to prepare your home. This will help the auditor get the most accurate results. This could include some of the following:

  • move some furnitureenergy-audit-inspection
  • removing the drapes
  • clear space for ladder access into the attic
  • clear space for access to crawl space, knee wall, or other access hatches

Make a list of all the issues you may be experiencing. This may include things like drafty rooms or areas where condensation is a problem. Also be sure to have copies of your monthly utility bills on hand for the auditor to scrutinize.

How Much Do Energy Audits Cost?

Home energy audits are sometimes subsidized by local governments or utilities. However, you should expect to budget anywhere between $300-$500. Contractors also tend to reduce the costs

Some contractors will also offer reduced rates should you hire them to make the recommended improvements to your house.

 

Categories: Save Money

9 Ways To Save Money by Going Green

No Comments
Go-green-and-save

When you decide to go green, the possibilities become endless. Modern homeowners are not only aware that green living starts at home and doing their bit to save the planet….going green allows you to save valuable dollars at the same time!

Green properties have also been on the radar for a long time now…so if you’re in the market to sell your home, it should interest you to know that green properties sell faster…and for significantly more!

Go Green and Save

If you want to do your bit for the environment and embrace green living at the same time, why not try some of the following tips to help you limit your energy usage so that you can keep your energy bills to a minimum.

1. Replace old light bulbs with CFL

For a small investment, you can save hundreds of dollars by replacing your old light bulbs with energy efficient fluorescent lights, also called CFLs. You don’t have to change all of them at once, but once you do, they might last as long as 10 years!

2. Unplug everything

When you’re not using an appliance or other electronics, they may still be using up valuable electricity.

Turn-off-computerJust by being plugged in, DVD players, modems, computers, and a wide array of other comforts we have in our homes all use unnecessary electricity when they remain plugged in after being used.

As for your phone, once that light goes green, you’re wasting electricity.

If you take a few seconds every time just to unplug your electonics once they’re no longer being used, you could save yourself hunders, if not thousands of dollars over time.

3. Buy energy-efficient products

Many of the modern appliances, electronics, heating and cooling systems, lighting and more available on today’s market come with an energy efficient rating. These may come at a higher price tag compared to standard products, but the savings will be worth it over time. Always look for the Energy Star rating if you want to invest in a green lifestyle.

4. Recycle

If you’re able to recycle, why not save all your bottles and cans for a monthly trip to the bottle return center.  While it’s true that you might only save just over $100 per year by recycling used materials like aluminum cans or glass bottles, cultivating a culture of recycling is important for society at large. There are also several economic advantages of recycling in the long-term.

5. Save water to save money

Faucet-aeratorNot only can you take shorter showers – why not install a low flow showerhead?

This could reduce your water usage 25-60%, which means big savings on your bills.

Cheap and easy to install water aerators will help to reduce the flow of water, which will also reduce the costs of your water heating.

6. Save on wash day

Wait until you have a big load before you do the washing. And when the time comes, be sure to use cold water. This will save water and energy on wash day. You should also hang your clothes on the line. Dryers don’t come that Energy Star rating that guarantees savings and you could save a ton of money.

7. Consider solar power

Solar energy is not only abundant – it also holds a number of benefits for the environment. After all, the sun is the one resource that most countries around the world have in abundance. With so many government and local incentives, going solar has never been easier. Solar panels on your roof will allow you to start saving on your bills as soon as they are switched on.

8. Turn off the water heater

If you’re simply looking for a quick, no-cost, energy efficient way of saving money, just turn your water heater down. Nobody needs the water coming from your taps to be as hot as it can be. Adjusting your water heater to around 120 degrees could save up to 10 % in water heating costs. Homeowners can also consider a tankless water heater that avoids round-the-clock storage of hot water, as well as constant heat loss.

9. Programmable thermostat

According to the Energy Department, homeowners can save an estimated 10% every year on heating and cooling costs by installing a programmable thermostat. You can adjust the times you turn on the heating or cooling according to a schedule that will help you save money.

 

6 Reasons Why Solar Power Is Awesome!

No Comments
Solar panel

Interest in solar energy today is growing more rapidly than ever before.

Green properties have been on the radar for some tome now and modern homeowners all over the world have started seeing the value of converting to solar power.

Not only is solar a clean and environmentally safe energy source but in addition to all the good that can be done for our planet, making the switch to solar power can also help you save money.

Here are 6 reasons why converting your home to solar power is the best way to go:

1. Solar Increase Your Property’s Value

If you’re looking to sell your home, being set up for solar energy is a smart investment for homeowners.

In fact, a study done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that homes equipped for solar power, on average, sold for around 17% more than homes without solar panels on the roof. Homes running on solar energy also sold 20% faster than those running on electricity.

2. Lock In Your Energy Rates

No matter what happens with electricity costs, going green with solar means that you’re always locked into an energy supply at a fixed rate.

3. Get Credit For Excess Power

Whenever your home is generating more power than you need, your meter will begin running backward. When that happens, the utility company in your area will credit you for the power you’re producing. You can then use this excess electricity during evening hours without running up a bill. This is a grid-tied solar system and known as net-metering.

4. Very Little Maintenance

Since there are no moving parts on solar power panels, they’re very durable and there’s really very little to maintain.

Rain will wash off any dust that collects on the panel’s surface, and even if you’re in the desert where it never rains, spraying the panels down once a year should be all that’s required to keep them producing like new.

To keep solar panels functioning optimally they should be 100% clean, but even when they are really dirty they only lose about 5-7% of their efficiency.

5. Helpful For the Environment

Solar panels are a clean and reliable source of energy, and this eco-friendly solution doesn’t place unnecessary strain on the planet’s resources. There are no air pollutants, toxic run-off, or other issues associated with running converting your home to solar power.

6. An Example To Those Around You

It feels good to be a leader, especially in an environmentally-friendly way where you can be sure you’re doing something good for the future of our planet.

Green living starts at home, and adopting clean energy sources early on is a crucial part of the process for anyone who wants to adopt a greener lifestyle.

What Is Energy Efficiency?

No Comments
Energy-efficiency
The term “energy efficiency” often emerges when alternative power sources are discussed. This applies to electronics, appliances, cooling and heating equipment and so much more. Unfortunately, this phrase is misused in ways which only confuse its actual meaning.
 
Energy efficiency isn’t the same as conserving energy. Efficiency relates to the specific ways by which power is produced and consumed.

Efficiency Simplified

 
An energy-efficient device gets the most out of a certain amount of fuel or electricity. The formula to determine efficiency is output divided by input.
 
For example, a car that travels 210 miles on six gallons of gas receives a fuel economy rating of 35 miles per gallon (mpg).
 
Avoiding the trip is “conservation”. Taking a shorter route to get to the same place is “efficiency”. Basically, energy efficiency enables you to get the same results with less sunlight, fuel or electricity.

Energy Efficiency Rating

Many appliances, electronics, some building products, and many other modern amenities all have a rating which reveals how efficient they are. A solar panel, for example, is more efficient if it produces extra power from the same amount of sunlight when compared to another type of solar panel. It could, therefore, receive a higher efficiency rating.
 
This rating will differ from one manufacturer to another. It’s always a good idea to look for the Energy Star Rating if you want to ensure you’re getting the most efficient product.

Global Energy Crisis

Energy efficiency is on top of our global conservation list. Currently, we are striving to find the quickest and least costly way of addressing our planet’s energy security.
 
The world continues to face environmental and economic challenges. Limited energy sources such coal and gas continue to be exploited as demand increases, regardless of the effect it has on the environment.
 
However, there still remains an abundance of untapt natural and renewable resources.

Renewable Energy Sources

The sun is only one renewable energy resource that every country possesses in abundance. Yet the possibilities that solar power can provide is only in its relative infancy – with massive strides taken in the last few decades alone.
 
The same can be said for hydroelectricity, wind power, and other forms of renewable energy as well.
 
It’s important that we apply energy efficiency at home first, in our daily lives. Green living always starts at home. This will ensure that we serve the needs of the present without compromising future generations and their energy needs.

Power of the Future

The energy crisis is a broad and complex topic. Most people don’t feel connected to its reality unless there is a power failure for a few hours or even a line at the gas station.
 
However, as energy efficient policies and other government incentives have makes an impact on the global energy market, renewable energy has finally started playing a key part to address the ongoing energy crisis.
 
Energy efficiency is key to ensuring a safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy system for the future.
 

How Long Do Solar Panels Really Last?

No Comments
Solar-panel-installation

If you’re ready to convert your home or business to be more sustainable and make use of green energy, solar panels are an excellent option.

That being said, the overall lifespan of solar panels is an issue that is continuously being called into question.

With a slew of conflicting information on the market, where do you turn to find the definitive answers in terms of the longevity of your solar panels?

Let’s have a look and answer this questions once and for all….

The average lifespan of solar panels

It’s imperative to note that the quality, and thus the lifespan, of solar panels, depend on several factors.

These include the specific materials used, the manufacturer itself, and the basic upkeep of the materials.

However, it’s equally important to keep in mind that the first solar panel ever is still in working order after 60 years of use. In addition, Kyocera has reported that they have several solar panels which continue to offer outstanding performance after being installed for almost 30 years.

In the majority of cases, solar panels offer no less than 10 years at 90%, and 80% over 25 years of the manufacturer’s stated power generation rating. Most panels are expected to operate at no less than 60% even after 40 years.

What happens at the end of their lifespan?

Fortunately, solar panels have such long lifespans that very few people have ever had to deal with the need to dispose of them.

Even if you’ve got some very old panels, they are probably still worth keeping.

However, the substantial silicon components in solar panels do pose an environmental hazard. They must be disposed of properly should you ever have to.

At present, there aren’t many services equipped to deal with spent solar cells. However, that is not something anyone will have to worry about anytime soon, and it is expected that by the time disposal does become an issue, solar disposal services will become a normal part of our everyday recycling culture.

If you do have unusable solar panels, place them inside an enclosed concrete structure and contact a disposal company that handles these kinds of waste products.

Extending the life of home solar panels

Luckily there are many things you can do to help preserve your solar paneling and maximize their lifespan:

Avoid damage

The first method is to avoid physical damages. This may be easier said than done, however, and the more scratches and physical damage a panel endures, the faster it will deteriorate.

Regular maintenance

Perhaps the most important method is to keep up with maintenance. This is done by having them serviced if there are noticeable issues or wear and tear, as well as keeping up with proper cleaning of the panels, but this may occur much less than you actually think.

Smart placement

The more severe weather they are exposed to, the faster your solar panels will become worn. In order to prevent this, give some thought to their placement of your panels in relation to the weather patterns that frequent your area.

Overall, solar paneling is a relatively new technology with major advances in the last few decades.  Installing them not only helps the environment as well as your wallet, but you will be a pioneer in terms of helping to develop this technology for future generations.

Categories: Green Living FAQ

Live Off-Grid in Your Ecocapsule

No Comments
Ecocapsule

If you have dreams of going completely off-the-grid and embrace the ultimate in sustainability, look no further than your very own Ecocapsule. This compact dwelling resembles an egg-shaped, energy efficient dome which solar panels and a wind turbine.

Tiny Homes

The Ecocapsule was originally designed by Nice Architects for living by professionals who work in remote locations, like forest rangers, and scientists. However, its developer eventually decided to create a house that would appeal to a wider range of customers.

This type of design now benefits from the increasingly popular tiny house movement. More and more people want to cut their costs and simplify their lives by turning to low-cost, low-maintenance, eco-friendly homes.

Efficient Living

The Ecocapsule’s interior measures only 86 square feet, yet it features a kitchenette, storage area and a bed that sleeps two. Although it isn’t particularly spacious, it does offer a number of valuable advantages.

It has virtually zero environmental impact after the manufacturing process comes to an end, and owners of this smart design become self-reliant without the need to spend much money on maintenance, energy or real estate.

And even if these amenities don’t satisfy people who desire big-screen TVs and specialized cooking appliances, this dwelling will meet all your basic needs for an extended period of time.

Locations

These eco-friendly pods can be placed in a huge variety of locations. They can be seen in remote rural campsites or on top of buildings with strong roofs. Other options include urban parking spaces and campgrounds with recreational vehicle sites.

Size & Weight

Its minimal weight and dimensions also make it comparatively easy to store, transport, or use in a wide range of locations. It weighs just over 3,300 pounds and measures 15 x 8 feet. The pod is small enough to fit in a shipping container.

There are several different ways to move this house from one place to another. It’s possible to carry the capsule on a truck, tow it on an open trailer behind a vehicle, or transport it inside of an enclosed cargo trailer.

Bathroom

Additionally, this environment-friendly home offers a bathroom with a hot shower and flush toilet. There’s no need to connect it to a costly municipal water supply either. This capsule collects water from rain showers or morning dew, and the water is filtered before it goes through the plumbing system.

Power Supply

In addition to providing its own water supply, the Ecocapsule generates its own electricity with solar panels and a retractable wind turbine. These renewable energy sources power the lights, appliances, and can even be used to charge an electric vehicle’s battery.

Battery

Naturally, there are sure to be times when the wind stops blowing and sunlight becomes scarce. This eco-friendly home’s rechargeable battery stores enough extra electricity. It can hold about 9.7 kilowatts of power, enough to run a medium-sized electric fan for approximately 200 hours.

Emergencies

Another possibility is that governments and charities could send these pods to disaster zones. When severe storms or earthquakes destroy infrastructure, they would still be able to provide comfortable temporary housing. The manufacturer uses materials that stand up to strong winds and other inclement weather.

Other Alternatives

Several other companies also offer tiny homes. These include the WaterNest 100 from Ecoflolife, and the G-Pods from Ornate Garden.  Tiny house enthusiasts can also consider the metal and wood DropXL from In-tenta or the see-through Alpine Capsule from Ross Lovegrove.

 

Categories: Green Technology