Why Energy Efficiency Is The Hottest Investment & Coolest Thing
By Leia T. Sims
Energy-efficiency investments are the cheapest, fastest, and cleanest way to respond to global challenges of rising utility costs and the emerging effects of climate change. Without significant investment in energy efficiency now, we will be headed to another worldwide energy crisis. Consider getting a home energy audit.
Last year, the average American household wasted 30% of the energy they paid for, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Energy efficient measures will help save you money, protect the environment and increase comfort in your home. An energy-efficient home can lower your utility bills by up to 60%. Pollution will be drastically mitigated by practicing energy efficiency in your home.
Money In Your Pocket
Home owners with lower utility bills have more money in their pocket each month. They can afford to allocate a larger portion of their income to investments.
An energy efficient home will make your lifestyle more affordable. Upgrades that save you energy will lower your utility bills. They increase the value of your home by making it more desirable to potential buyers. Your home increases $20 for every $1 decrease in annual utility cost according to a study by the EPA. A home with energy improvements saves an average of $58 monthly over the home without energy improvements, even with the cost of upgrades included in the mortgage.
Energy efficiency upgrades with many of todays state incentives will often realize a payback within one to four years, making these investments risk-free with at least a 25% annual return. You will be able to take advantage of the energy savings for the life of the upgrade.
In New Jersey, for example, homeowners are eligible for loans and grants to pay a significant portion of the home’s energy efficiency upgrades. Home Performance with Energy Star is a program funded by utility ratepayers in New Jersey. These are some of the incentives currently available under the program:
~Customers may be eligible for a 0% loan up to $10,000.00
~A 50% subsidy on the total cost of the proposed work, up to $4,000.00.
The incentives would be used on upgrades that will save at least as much money as it costs to purchase them. Acceptable upgrades will be determined in a professional home energy audit. Check www.dsireusa.org for your state’s incentives.
What Is A Home Energy Audit
A home energy audit will help pinpoint problem areas. Recommendations by your auditor and then acted on will help improve your quality of life. A professional energy auditor will use blower doors and other test equipment to determine a home’s efficiency. You can go to www.bpi.org for a list of qualified energy auditors in your state.
Your home energy auditor will conduct tests using a “whole-house” approach. They understand the dynamic interaction among a home’s heating and cooling systems, waterheaters and other combustion appliances, ventilation, and shell features (windows, doors, airflow through cracks, etc.).
The home energy audit focuses on more than energy efficiency. Health and safety, comfort, durability and long-term value of housing, and environmental benefits are part of the “whole-house” approach. Gathering information from you and analyzing test information will lead to your diagnostic report.
The Blower Door Analysis
A blower door is a large calibrated fan that is temporarily mounted in a house door to measure the “leakiness” of the house and assist in finding the location of the leaks. Blower doors have mounting frames so the fan can be sealed tightly into the door-jamb. In order to measure the leakiness of the house, the blower door measures both the air-flow through the fan and the pressure difference between the house inside and outside. With the blower door running the professional will walk the house and find leaks in insulation and significant drafts throughout the house.
A professional energy auditor will also:
~Test the efficiency of your heating and cooling units – heating and cooling units are often improperly sized and/or are old and not maintained.
~Test for gas leaks – they are not always detected by sense of smell
~Detect mold and moisture – mold is a common problem in basements with old, cracked foundations not properly insulated
~Test the ducts for leakiness – 30% of the air can escape through improperly sealed ducts. A duct blaster will locate the leakiest ducts in the house.
~Determine if the combustion appliances are vented properly – flue tests are performed to make sure that gas appliances are properly vented to the outside
Once the auditor completes the testing at your home they will prepare a diagnostic report. The report will contain recommended upgrades, estimated payback and annual savings.
click here to continue