Future Article/Blog Post Ideas

Tue, 2009-09-22 11:09

We’ve brainstormed 10 topics regarding home energy efficiency that we will be writing about. Check back with us for these upcoming posts!

1) Compact fluorescent versus incandescent light bulbs. The average home has more than 50 light bulbs. Changing a home’s 5 most frequently used bulbs can save $100/year and eliminate a significant amount of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere.

2) Attic insulation. How much is enough? Especially with older homes, adding more attic insulation is one of the best ways to improve comfort and save money.

3) Air Conditioner and Furnace Filters. Changing these filters periodically is akin to performing an oil change on a car, but many homeowners never get around to it. Old filters reduce air flow, make HVAC equipment work harder, and allow pollutants to enter a home. The EPA estimates that the indoor air quality of the average home is five times worse than outside air. Replacing filters regularly is one of the simplest ways to fix that problem.

4) Ductwork. The average home’s central air system ductwork loses from 25-40% of its air each time it circulates through the system. Good air gets pumped into attics and crawl spaces and bad air (mold, allergens, radon, fiberglass, etc) are sucked in to replace it. Homeowners can dramatically reduce that leakage very cost-effectively by working on the most common trouble spots.

5) Recessed Lighting. Depending on the type of fixture, recessed lights that connect the top floor of a home with its attic can act as giant holes in the home’s envelope. In the winter, hot air rises directly into the attic through those holes. In the summer, hot air from the attic enters homes through the same holes.

6) Crawlspace mold. Many crawlspaces are cool and damp, which are two ideal conditions for mold to grow. Additionally, 30-50% of the air in a home comes from its crawlspace. Sealing crawlspaces can prevent moldy air from entering a building envelop as well as prevent radon from entering living areas.

7) Energy Efficient Mortgages. A homeowner with a $200,000 mortgage would have a monthly payment of approximately $1200. In an efficient home, the utility bill might be $100 instead of $160 each month for a total cost of ownership of $1300 instead of $1360. Knowing that Energy Star homes have a lower cost of ownership because of lower utility bills, many banks are have Energy Efficient Mortgages which allow individuals to borrow more money to purchase those homes. An extra $60/month is approximately enough to cover an additional $10,000 in mortgage.

8) Programmable Thermostats. Fully cooling or heating a home when no one is home is simply a waste of money. Pre-programmed thermostats cost as little as $30, install in minutes, and can cut 8-10% off a homeowner’s utility bill.

9) Air Conditioning Systems. Bigger is not necessarily better. Having a system too big for a home can cause a number of problems. First, the system will cycle on and off more frequently. Just as the system gets cold it will shut off and all of that energy is lost each cycle. Additionally, HVAC systems are supposed to run for a longer period of time to remove humidity from a home’s indoor air. An oversized system will not run long enough to do that, which can create a cold and clammy feeling in a house that is also the ideal environment for mold to grow.

10) Solar Thermal Hot Water Systems. These systems generally cost $3000-$5000 to install and can provide most of the hot water for a family for most of the year (they are supplemented by a traditional system the rest of the time). Unlike photovoltaic systems that generate electricity which currently take 8-12 years to pay for themselves, an average family will break even on a solar thermal system in about five years. Remember to leave a comment about which topic we should write about first.

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