Making Your Home Perform.
Steps to succeed in increasing comfort while cutting environmental impact and utility bill costs:
1) Understand how you're using energy
Have a professional energy audit performed on your home -Lightly Treading, an approved Xcel Energy contractor (http://www.xcelenergy.com/Save_Money_&_Energy/Residential/Energy_Audits/Home_Energy_Audit_-_CO) or (www.lightlytreading.com) Or use the EPA's Home Energy Yardstick to get a sense if your home is an Energy Hog or not (www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=HOME_ENERGY_YARDSTICK.showGetStarted)
2) Look for obvious wasted energy
Lights left on, heating & cooling systems running when you are not home or are asleep or with windows or doors open. Also a refrigerator in the garage cooling 1 six-pack of beer can cost $200 to $300/year!
3) Upgrade lighting
LEDs are coming down in price and use 1/6th the energy of an incandescent bulb lasting 20,000 hours or more. CFLs now cost about the same as an incandescent bulb and use 1⁄4th the energy, or less, and last 10,000 hours or more. Install these anywhere you have a bulb on 2 hours or more a day. Your energy audit will show you exactly what is needed.
4) Insulate and Air-seal
In the typical Colorado home 40% of the space heating load can come from air-leakage. Also, did you know that until the late 1970's local building Codes did not require insulation to be installed in the walls of buildings? Cutting air-leakage and increasing insulation are usually the most cost-effective improvements to be made to your home. Your energy audit will show you exactly what is needed.
5) Heating systems –Upgrade?
If your furnace or boiler is not already 90% efficient or higher, you are using 20th century technology which costs you hundreds of $ per year while having the inherent risk of back-drafting combustion by-products into your home. Your energy audit will show you exactly what is needed.
6) Cooling systems –Upgrade?
Do you know Evaporative Cooling (aka, Swamp cooling) can cut cooling costs by 75% or more? Also, even when you have air-conditioning using a whole-house fan to cool a house overnight can save 25% on monthly cooling ????
?costs. And, if you don't have a "2-stage" Air-conditioner (using part of the AC system's capacity when it's warm and only the whole capacity when it's blazing hot) you are again using 20th century technology. Your energy audit will show you exactly what is needed.
7) Hot Water- what do you use for showering and washing dishes/clothes?
Low-flow shower heads and wrapping the water heating tank with extra insulation can save $25 to $75/year. Washing your clothes in cold water and only washing dishes and clothes when you have a full-load make a difference as well. When it comes to your water heater, unless you have a high-efficiency, power-vented tank water heater or tankless water heater, you are wasting energy. This is especially true if you have 4 or more people in the house or have teenagers?. Standard atmospherically vented tanks (old technology) also have the risk of back-drafting combustion by-products. Your energy audit will show you exactly what is needed.
If your refrigerator is from 1990 or earlier you will save $150 to $300 or more every year by upgrading it. When you are looking for a new refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer, TV/monitors, audio equipment or dozens of other home appliances look for the ENERGY STAR logo to save 10 to 25% or more over the life of the appliance. Your energy audit will show you exactly what is needed.
9) Renewable Energy –Solar
Solar electric (Photovoltaics –PV) have come down in price by more than 50% in the last 5 to 10 years while maintaining high quality and diversity with what is technologically available. Generating electricity with no resulting emissions is the future available to you today! Solar water heating is perfect for households with 4 or more people, especially those of us who like to sing in the shower leaving little or no hot water for others. Again, having hot water without the impact of polluting emissions make us all smile. Finally, for those of us living in wide-open space (few trees and even fewer buildings around us), wind power can be an excellent alternative. Your energy audit will show you exactly what is needed.