Guest Writer Anja Atkinson from Solar Home Review
Is your home leaking money? OK yes, that’s a silly way of putting it, but essentially, if your home is not optimized for energy efficiency, you’ve got money-leaking problems. An energy-smart home not only saves you money, but is the foundation upon which a home solar system is fully optimized. If you’re considering a solar installation, you may qualify for both state or national incentives and tax credits. However, to qualify for some incentives, specific criteria must be met, often including a Home Energy Audit performed by a qualified professional. Clearly, making energy-smart home improvements increases your home’s value, prepares you for future clean energy decisions and cuts your total costs on home energy.
Now, some are more naturally inclined toward home maintenance than others. Regardless, you’ll find that this project can be a fun and valuable learning experience. With fall in the air, it’s the perfect time of year to power-smart your home before we head into the winter months, so let’s review the steps you can take to get started today.
Step 1 – Home Energy Audits
A great thing about Home Energy Audits is that they give you a clear snapshot of what needs to be improved, eliminating the guesswork and highlighting problems that you may not have otherwise identified. In researching this type of service, I will mention that some local power companies offer to conduct Home Energy Audits for free. It’s worth inquiring with your current power company to gather any advice they may offer about Audit options available in your area. Certified professional Home Energy Auditors will inspect your home at a fee that varies from state to state. For information about Home Energy Audits in your area, check the helpful Energy Star database.
Step 2 – EnergyStar and Smart Power Devices
The bathroom light, microwave oven and clock radio are just a few devices we use that need electricity to operate. Two things to keep in mind with home energy consumption are EnergyStar rated appliances and smart lighting & power devices. Most appliances will have a sticker stating how much energy they use calculated in Kilowatt Hours. Based on how long you operate equipment at home in a given day, you can begin to estimate how much energy you are using in a month. From there, you can consider making changes by using smart power devices, replacing older energy-hogging appliances or using LED lighting. The EnergyStar program was started by the U.S. Department of Energy to create a standard for rating energy consumption performance of household appliances, now recognized in Canada, Australia, the European Union, Japan, Taiwan and Switzerland. You’ll be amazed at what you can save. Outside solar lighting is awesome for saving energy as well.
Step 3 – Air Leaks and Insulation
Home Energy Auditors use specific equipment to identify even the smallest air leaks in your home and will tell you what needs to be done to improve things. Weatherizing windows and doors and sealing air leaks are usually very straightforward. When it comes to insulation, we would like to mention Bonded Logic, a company based in Arizona. They are one of a number of companies that use blue-jeans for insulation, an environmentally friendly insulation solution for you to consider. An outstanding guide to insulation and air leaks can be found here.
Having accomplished this project, you are now a power-smart homeowner. You’ve also gained valuable knowledge you can share with others and understand the value in completing this project prior to doing a home solar installation. Investing time in home energy efficiency saves you money in the long run, but it also means less reliance on energy systems that contribute to GHG emissions and global warming. If you add up your city block, your neighborhood and your city, the positive impact we can make is truly significant.