Good Energy Saving Investments

By Todd Fratzel on Energy Conservation

Energy Saving Investments

With energy costs soaring out of control I thought the following information would be helpful for people trying to cut their energy expenses. Try following a couple of these tips and you’re sure to see some reduced energy costs.

Six Energy Saving Investments

1. Install an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat away from natural cool and hot spots. An ENERGY STAR thermostat can save as much as $115 per year, provide more flexibility than standard models.

2. Seal your home’s envelope – walls, floor, ceiling and roof – to save up to 10% on your annual energy bill:
– Add weather stripping around windows and doors to reduce drafts.
– Use caulking to seal around ducts, plumbing and any other openings in walls, floors and ceilings to reduce air leakage. Begin in the attic, a common place for warm air to escape.
– Seal larger gaps that cannot be covered with caulk with expanding foam.

3. After air sealing, determine the current level of insulation. In the attic, measure the depth of existing insulation using a ruler. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fiber glass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose) you could probably benefit by adding more. Most U.S. homes should have between R-22 and R-49 insulation in the attic. Insulating ceilings, walls, attics, floors, crawl spaces and basements to recommended standards can reduce heating and cooling costs by 5% to 25%.

4. Install fireplace inserts or wood stoves into an existing fireplace. The inserts are equipped with glass or metal doors, outside combustion air vents and heat circulation blowers. Fireplace inserts dramatically improve fireplace efficiency by blowing heat from the fire into the room and limiting the amount of heat and conditioned air lost up the chimney. Fireplace inserts are recommended for fireplaces that are regularly used. Before installing a fireplace insert, be sure to check the manufacturer’s safety specifications and make sure the fireplace insert is compatible with the existing chimney or vent flue.

5. Replace heating equipment more than 15 years old with new ENERGY STAR qualified models. Equipment must be sized and installed properly.
– Old furnaces cost more to operate per year than new, ENERGY STAR qualified models that are 15% more efficient than standard models.
– An ENERGY STAR qualified geothermal heat pump is 30% more efficient than comparable new equipment and can save you as much as $200 annually. A qualified electric heat pump is 20% more efficient and can save you about $130 annually.
– An ENERGY STAR qualified boiler uses features like electric ignition and new combustion technologies that extract more heat from the same amount of fuel, to be 10% more efficient than a new, standard model.

6. Install high efficiency windows, which are 40% more efficient than standard windows. Consider replacing single-pane windows with double-pane windows that are gas-filled with high performance glass (e.g., low emissivity or “low-e” glass). ENERGY STAR windows may help reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to 15%. The windows must be sized and installed properly.

About the author

Todd Fratzel

I'm full time builder for a large construction company in New Hampshire. I run their design-build division that specializes in custom homes, commercial design-build projects and sub-divisions. I'm also a licensed civil and structural engineer with extensive experience in civil and structural design and home construction. My hope is that I can share my experience in the home construction, home improvement and home renovation profession with other builders and home owners. I'm also the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Tool Box Buzz. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or you'd like to inquire about advertising on this site.

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