Demystifying best practices in home energy savings

Every year, more and more homeowners look for new ways to make energy improvements to their homes. Rightfully so, it is ofter hard to narrow down the numerous choices out there. Instead of weighting in with our own set of recommendations, we decided to share information from a reputable source. According to the Energy Department's recommendations, we should be doing the following: (in no particular order)

  • Install (and set) programmable thermostats. Nothing against new programs out there that can even be ran through your smart devices, the key here is to be sure to set to a schedule. Furnaces run more efficiently when the daily up and downswing of temperatures are kept to a minimum. Worst thing to do is to turn off one day, then crack up next day.
  • Utilize natural daylight. If you're moving to a new home, make sure your designer team does their due diligence to maximize daylight while minimizing heat loss. If you're looking on ways to improve your current home, simple solutions such as better performing windows, and the addition of solar tubes and/or skylights will be an investment well made.
  • Switch to Energy Star rated appliances. Something to keep in mind here is to still look at energy consumption when purchasing new. Just because they are rated does not necessarily make it a smart choice. Make sure to do your research alongside your design team.
  • Choose energy savings lighting. If you're main concern is aesthetics, CFL's and LED's are making huge strides to make more pleasing light bulbs that go better with your fixtures. Although very popular, the worst thing to do is to update your light bulbs with vintage / Edison bulbs! 
  • Use powerstrips to plug in your electronic equipment. Just because they are plugged into wall and off does not guarantee they are not drawing energy! Leaving for a long period of time? Turn off your powerstrips on your way out the door
  • Reduce energy for water heating. This can be achieved by purchasing low-flow fixtures, and even lowering the max temperature on your water heater
  • Mainting a regular checkup of your appliances. Even energy star appliances, when not installed properly or running like they should be, can be just as bad as those not rated! 
  • Consult / work with a home performance contractor. Their comprehensive energy audit of your home is something often missed by most contractors. Make sure this is part of your contractor's scope of work

Saving energy- demystified

Whether it's a new client interviewing me for the job, or a friend seeking DYI advice, I am encountering numerous people asking me how to improve the energy efficiency of their home. It's easy to put on our salesmen hat and suggest solar, wind, even thermal alternatives, but that's not what I'm here to tell you. I want to make sure we take care of the small, most effective fixes first! 

Enough about that, let's get to the good stuff! Focusing on confort and the reduction of energy "waste", here are the four ways to do so:

  1.  Air seal the home to create a more tight, leak-free environment. This can be achieved by making sure all windows and windows are properly caulked.
  2.  Replace your attic insulation. Most home owners have regular batt insulation. An upgrade would be to install fiberglass. An even better solution: spray foam the area! Either one of these options will make a huge impact, for both summer and winter months.
  3. Replace most windows. Research shows Argon-filled, low-e, and even triple pane windows will help to keep a more stable temperature year round.
  4. Install window inserts on other windows.  Want to maintain the integrity and character of old windows? No problem. These inserts will help to keep drafts and noise out