Picture a group of guys sitting around a table, smoking expensive cigars and drinking Heineken, and talking about what they would build in a new green, sustainable house if they had the opportunity…and money. There’s some humor here. These guys are smoking cigars and talking about building environmentally friendly houses. Lots of ideas were bantered-about, but one guy actually, the following week, produced his plans for building an incredible house for his ‘retirement’-a home that he says could be passed-down throughout generations. A home that is entirely sustainable, as ‘green’ as it gets, and would out-last conventional homes by decades, without the usual expense of reconditioning and remodeling. We didn’t believe him…at first.
At first I thought this was a joke, but it is real. This guy is going to build a ‘rammed-earth’ home. It’s going to be more expensive than the conventional home initially, but the savings will come later. He calls it his ‘forever generation of families home’ that will last well past his demise, and one that his family will never sell. Needless to say, he got our attention.
Rammed-earth homes-or buildings-aren’t new. They have been around for hundreds of years, having been used in Europe, south America, and in the arid areas of the U.S., including California, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. In essence, rammed-earth homes have 14-20 inch walls where earth is compacted between formwork to make a homogeneous mass wall. It’s been used for centuries and is catching-on as sustainable and beautiful building material. The concept is this: Buildings consume 45 percent of our energy use in Canada and the United States. With energy costs at an all time high and mass environmental awareness forcing change, buildings are the primary place we can impact global warming. In this age of peak oil and historic oil spills, we can transform the built environment now through proven ecological and sustainable alternatives. One of these alternatives is to use the very ground we live on to build the walls of our buildings. Check this out: Here are some of the statistics he provided our group about this unique process:
The combination of heat retention from the mass of rammed earth and insulation makes rammed-earth homes suited for various climates. In fact, heating and cooling is efficient and there is little or no maintenance with rammed-earth homes. It insulates 13.5 times more than a concrete wall of the same thickness. Insulated rammed earth also has incredible thermal capacity, capturing and storing energy through passive solar design.
Most buildings have a life expectancy of less than 50 years. This cycle exhausts energy and resources and creates a toxic waste stream by constantly rebuilding. As well, there are no building codes or standards that require buildings be disaster resistant, healthy (containing no toxic materials) or meet other important benchmarks of a quality construction such as energy efficiency, environmental impact and durability.
Fire and Earthquake resistance
Rammed-earth’s green design is low to no impact, using sustainable, locally sourced and ecological building materials. Durable stabilized, insulated rammed earth walls are virtually fire, water and earthquake proof.
In Australia, rammed earth walls have a four-hour fire rating, the highest for Australian codes. Fire tests to AS 1530.4 – 1985 on a 300mm-thick rammed earth wall with 6 percent cement gave 240/240/240 for structural adequacy, integrity and insulative capacity. This means the wall is still standing strong after four hours in a fire!
Designed to withstand seismic events in Zone 5 (San Francisco and Los Angeles), the compressive strength of a rammed-earth building typically falls between 10–30 MPa (1,450––4,500 psi), making it highly seismically resistant. Many rammed-earth homes have achieved more than 6,000psi with only 10 percent cement and regularly exhibit the same strength as concrete with a fraction of the cement. Because the bending moment increases with the cube of the wall thickness, comparing a 24” rammed-earth wall and 8” concrete wall, the rammed-earth wall is 13.5 times as strong.
Comparing resources required in building construction, a typical five-acre treed parcel supplies wood for 20 wood-framed houses, while a five-acre gravel pit has sufficient suitable earth to build rammed earth walls for more than 5,000 houses. Further, no precious topsoil is lost when building with rammed earth.
Improved Air quality
Many homes and buildings continue to be constructed with forced or recycled air, inadequate ventilation, temperature fluctuations, uncontrolled humidity, and poor sound quality. Rammed-earth buildings are excellent at controlling humidity through the humidity flywheel effect. Bringing more than double the mass to a building, which in turn doubles the thermal and humidity flywheel benefits, rammed-earth buildings result in better air quality and moisture control, maintaining an interior relative humidity in the low 50s, which is ideal for human comfort and an impossible humidity for mold to grow.
We spend 90 percent of our time indoors and needlessly surround ourselves with carcinogens and other toxins. Lumber manufacturers douse most building wood with toxic fungicides to prevent mold growth. Often, the built environment is layered with chemicals and provides ideal habitat for mold, which contribute to asthma, multiple chemical sensitivities, immune system deficiencies and other health issues. Besides being bad for your health, such measures don’t always stop carpenter ants, termites and dry rot from slowly consuming wood houses.
Why does a typical wood wall contain elements like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), phthalates, fungicides and urea formaldehyde? Doesn’t the Building Code ensure that only healthy materials can be used? No, the Building Code is there to ensure the minimum level of safety in buildings and, at this point in time, toxic materials aren’t deemed to be a safety issue.
Unlike most building materials, rammed earth walls are non-toxic and maintenance-free, requiring no sealants or finishes, which preserves indoor air quality. Rammed-earth builders use an integral admixture that seals the wall all the way through, reducing the need for ongoing maintenance. In addition, rammed-earth buildings eliminate toxins from wall assemblies, creating interior spaces that are healthy to inhabit. This is true not only of the wall itself, but also through the exclusion of interior and exterior finishes that can contain many of the most toxic and environmentally destructive components found on a construction site. Amazing.
Rammed-earth homes incorporate traditional ceilings and roofs. Our guy says that he plans on topping-off his home with high performance reflective insulation, making it the most energy efficient and sustainable home that (he imagines) can be built. He plans on installing ecologically smart window film, and solar attic fans and electric systems.
When he finished his talk, the room was silent. Just a bunch of guys with cigars hanging out of their mouths…jealous and dreaming of our own rammed-earth homes in the future.
In our attempt to reduce our hidden energy usage and be as ‘green’ as we can as a household, I did some checking into an energy resource that we have just taken for granted: Water. It’s just there. Every time we need it, we just turn on a faucet, and it comes out. If you’re like us, you really don’t know how much you’re using on a daily basis.
In a men’s group that I attend, the subject of energy conservation has been a topic of discussion for some months now, and we’re all trying to minimize our usage-and the money we spend on it. But no one, until last week, talked about water.
So I did some research into just how much an average family uses on a daily basis. I picked ten average water-usage activities for a family of four to present to our group and here’s what I found:
WATER-USE ACTIVITY AVERAGE AMOUNT OF WATER USED
1. One bath 50 gallons
2. One 10 minute shower 2.5 gallons per minute = 25 gallons
3. One teeth brushing 1 gallon X 4 = 4 gallons
4. One hand/face washing 1 gallon X 4 = 4 gallons
5. One face/leg shaving 1 gallon X 1 = 1 gallon
6. One dishwasher load 20 gallons = 20 gallons
7. One dishwashing by hand 5 gallons = 5 gallons
8. One clothes washing load 10 gallons = 10 gallons
9. One toilet flush 3 gallons X 10 = 30 gallons
10. One 8oz glass of water 8oz X 4 = ½ gallon
Now, taking into consideration that we wash clothes and (in our house) baths are taken periodically (we shower daily), that comes to an average daily water usage of 84.5 gallons! If someone had suggested to me that we use an average of 600 gallons of water a week I would have thought he was crazy! I realize that this is just an estimate, and I’m not taking into account everything we use water for, such as cooking and dog washing. And, water use for all activities vary by individual. I might use three gallons of water to wash dishes by hand, but my son might use five. You might leave the water running when you brush your teeth, but your wife might not. If you live in a newer house, your toilet probably uses less water per flush than the toilet in a very old house. Newer houses also have shower and faucet heads that use less water than before (look at the end piece on your sink faucet — it should have the number of gallons per minute that it will allow stamped in it).
The guys in my group were stunned. We all were. We were trying to guess how much water we all used in washing our trucks. We all took a minute to add up the houses on our street in order to figure-out how much water actually goes down the drain…You get the point. It’s scary.
It also started us thinking about how much water it took to put those cups of coffee and burgers in front of us, and the rest of the people in the restaurant. Being the researcher that I am, I offered to do some research on that as well, and share it with them over the next few weeks. I’ll put what I find into a blog, for those of you who are interested.
This is one of those deals where one feels like just one person can’t make much of an impact, but we figured that we were only responsible for ourselves, our families, and others that we might be able to impact. So here’s what we decided to do:
1. Each guy was going to share this information with his family and vow to cut-down on as much water usage as possible in his own home. We figured we could probably reduce it by 50% with some effort and controls. I’m still not sure about only flushing the toilet a couple of times a day.
2. Each of us were going to ‘walk our neighborhoods’ with a home-made flyer and see if he could get the neighbors to do the same.
3. All of us were businessmen, so we decided to take the message to our work-place as well.
4. We all frequent Starbucks, restaurants, etc. and decided that (for what it was worth), we’d give them the info as well. Who knows?
5. We all agreed to email the info to our relatives as well.
Is this going to make a difference? We’re not naïve. We know that some of our kids, relatives, and co-workers will just shrug their shoulders and not really give a rip. But some-maybe many-will, and make some changes in the way they take for granted one of our best natural resources. Who knows? It may just reduce their water bill at the same time.
As many of you already know solar energy is a renewable energy source. Our sun is virtually an unlimited source of energy, and solar energy cannot be depleted unlike fossil fuels that will eventually become depleted. Once this happens world needs to have good alternatives, and solar energy definitely looks like one of the best possible alternatives. Here’s why:
- Solar energy is an environmentally friendly energy source that doesn’t emit harmful carbon emissions that contribute to climate change like fossil fuels do. With every watt of energy generated from the Sun we need less fossil fuels, and with it we are actually reducing the impact of climate change. The latest studies have reported that an average home solar system is capable to eliminate 18 tons of greenhouse gas emissions from the environment each year. Solar energy also doesn’t emit nitrogen oxide or sulphur dioxide meaning that it doesn’t contribute to smog or acid rain.
- The Sun is a completely free energy source which can be used by each and every one of us. Nobody owns the Sun, so after you recover the initial investment, the remaining energy from the Sun is completely free.
- The more solar energy we use the less we are dependent on fossil fuels. This is not only good from the environmental point of view but also improves our energy dependence and our energy security since there is a lesser need for foreign oil import.
- On the long run solar energy saves us money. The initial costs are well worth it because you will have access to energy that is totally free, and if your home solar system produces more energy than you need, your utility company can buy it from you, meaning there’s a potential extra profit involved. Many countries also provide different tax benefits, and offer financial incentives for using solar energy.
- Solar panels operate very silently (unlike huge wind turbines) so there is no noise pollution. Solar panels usually have a very respectable lifespan of at least 30 years, and maintenance costs connected with them are very low since they have no moving parts. It is also fairly easy to install solar panels.
- Photovoltaic cells (often referred to as ‘solar cells’) are the most efficient technology to date. Photovoltaic cells are “devices that convert sunlight into electricity using the photoelectric effect”. Photovoltaic cells are made of semiconducting materials similar to those used in computer chips and use a lens to focus the sunlight onto the cells which contain collectors of the Sun’s heat.
As you can see, solar energy is one of the best energy options for individuals looking to reduce or eliminate their dependency upon fossil fuels. Eagle Shield utilizes the latest technology in photovoltaic cell systems Eagle Shield’s High Performance Solar Systems modules have received the California Energy Commission’s top performance ranking and ensure years of superior energy production. Our system is designed to make installation of modules quick, simple and secure. Fire-code friendly panels allow for easy, fast installation. To learn more, call us at 800-811-0466 for a free estimate. We’ll include an 18-point home energy audit to show you other ways you can increase your home comfort, save money on energy bills, and protect the environment.
One of the appliances that I thought was in the ‘top 3’ hidden energy guzzlers, the clothes dryer, actually ended up using about the same amount of energy as my flat screen TV. That was a surprise. It would seem (to me) that the amount of energy required to generate the heat necessary to dry a load of clothes would be far greater than that needed to run a flat screen TV. Guess again. We figured our average monthly cost, when running 34 loads a month, to be $13.75. Not bad when you think about it. That’s the equivalent of a cup of Starbucks and a piece of banana nut loaf bread a week.
Our job here, however, is to see how we can reduce our energy expense, so here are some of the things we discovered that can reduce your clothes dryer expense considerably:
1. The ‘load:’ For some reason I have a tendency to pack my clothes dryer like luggage bound for Europe. I haven’t really stopped to think about it, but the inner logic may be that I’m getting more dry clothes for my money. Not true. I found that an over-loaded dryer costs more to operate. I also was told to separate the lightweight clothes from the heavier items and dry them separately. Here again, I would just dump everything in the dryer bin, turn it on for 45 minutes, walk away and let it roll. I found that drying the lighter items by themselves and turning the timer on for only 20 minutes resulted in most of the load being dry. In half the time. Putting the heavier clothes (towels, jeans, etc.) together and setting the time for 30 minutes gave us the same results. I ended-up with less wrinkles as well.
2. The lint screen: This is something that I’m pretty good about. I pull and clean the lint screen each time I use the dryer. I was told that dirty lint screens can cause a dryer to use up to 30 percent more energy-and it can be a fire hazard.
3. Outside exhaust: One thing I didn’t think about was to periodically check the outside exhaust filter. I was told to make sure that the cover fit tightly, so no cold air could leak in. Also, he recommended that I change my flexible vinyl duct with a metal one. Evidently, restricting the air flow can reduce the effectiveness of the dryer, and vinyl ducts have a tendency to get squashed. I went home, looked behind my dryer, and sure enough…my 6-inch ductwork was crunched into about half the size it’s supposed to be.
4. Moisture sensor: I had no idea what this was, or if I even had one. I was told to use it instead of a timed cycle. Interesting…some machines have a ‘moisture sensor option’ which automatically shuts off the machine when the clothes are dry. I went home and checked our dryer and, sure enough, we have one. Now..to figure out how to use it.
5. Spin option: How do these guys know so much about this stuff? If your clothes washer has spin options, choose a high spin speed or extended spin option to reduce the amount of remaining moisture, thus starting the drying process before you put your clothes in the dryer.
6. Solar clothes dryer: There’s always a wise-guy. I totally fell for it, asking him what a solar clothes dryer was. It’s a clothesline. He said that most people don’t need a dryer. They could save themselves the money and hang their clothes either outside (if the homeowners association permits) or inside on a rack. He seemed to think that clothes would last longer and look better, too.
He had some good suggestions that will save us enough money to pay for those weekly Starbucks visits. However, I just can’t see us hanging stuff around the house to dry….
When we first started looking for hidden energy guzzlers in our house I was asked to list (what I thought) were the top three energy guzzlers. Here’s what we listed:
1. Air conditioner – this was, in fact, the number one guzzler at $80 per month.
2. Clothes dryer – This was not as big a culprit as we thought. We’ll discuss this in our next blog.
3. Hot water heater – This was more expensive than I thought it was going to be, as you’ll see.
Our hot water heater is electric, is a 50 gallon tank, and is around 8 years old. We discovered that our average usage runs around 375 kilowatt hours per month. At $0.17 per KWH, that puts our monthly average at around $68.00 a month, which makes it the number two energy-guzzler in our house. I remember buying it based on one thing: its price tag. What I found was this:
Every appliance has two price tags. The first is the price you pay when you purchase the appliance (I went cheap). The second is the cost of operating the appliance over its lifetime. You might be surprised if you consider how much it costs to operate an appliance compared to what seemed to be a good deal when you purchased it. I thought I got a good deal, but found that I’m paying through the proverbial ‘nose’ each month.
The utility guy said that there are a number of things I could do, which included spending $500 on a new, energy efficient unit. Not being inclined in that direction, I asked what we could do to reduce the bill on the unit we have. Here’s a list of things that he suggested:
1. Repair leaky faucets & showerheads. He said to check the faucets and showers in all three bathrooms for leaks. A leak of one drip per second can cost $1 per month. This doesn’t sound like much, but can add-up.
2. This was interesting. He asked if we used hot water when running the garbage disposal. We always used hot water. He said to use cold water to operate the garbage disposal. Cold water use saves energy and is the recommendation of most disposal manufacturers. Didn’t know that.
3. When washing dishes by hand, he said to use a sink stopper or dishpan so water – hot or cold – doesn’t rush down the drain. Remember, too, that hot water running needlessly not only wastes water, but it wastes energy as well. This was news to us, since we often washed dishes by hand so as not to use the dishwasher (see last week’s blog).
4. Set our water heater to 120 degrees, which will produce plenty of hot water and still save energy. I ran down to the basement and saw that ours was set at 160 degrees, which I promptly changed.
5. Wrap your water heater with a water heater blanket, and insulate the pipes where we can. We got these ready-made foam tubes that worked well and were easy to cut-to-size. He said we’d save around 10% on our bill just by doing this.
6. Conserve hot water by installing water-saving showerheads.
7. Last, but not least, this was the big eye-opener. He said to put a timer on the heater that shut it down at night. Candidly, I didn’t buy this. I thought we’d be showering in cool water in the morning, which I wasn’t excited about. Not to worry, he said, because the water in the tank would still be warm, and it wouldn’t take much to heat it up. He said that by turning off the water heater for 8 hours each day, we could save as much as 30% on our bill. To prove it to us he brought us outside the house to where the electrical meter was. He asked us to watch the dial, which was spinning quite fast. He then went into the basement and flipped-off the breaker for the hot water heater. Amazing. The dial (which measures the kilowatts being used) slowed-down to half of the speed as when the heater was on.
His point was this: Why continue to heat water at 120 degrees when no one is using it? A well insulated tank will keep water warm for quite a while. So we put the heater on a timer and decided to turn it off from 11pm to 6am, and from 9am to 4pm, when we are away at work and school. That’s 14 hours that we won’t be heating water at 4500 watts. We also decided that there won’t be any more 20 minute showers. Sorry ladies…
If you have been following any of these recent blogs, you will have picked-up that we are on a mission to uncover and eliminate hidden ‘energy guzzlers:’ the appliances, equipment, and habits that, unknown to us, are wasting energy and causing us unnecessary expense. We have found that some appliances and equipment, much to our surprise, use much more energy than we would have guessed (flat screen TVs and hot tub pumps). But there are a couple of appliances that, at first blush, might seem to be energy-suckers, but in fact are not.
I asked a few people at work to identify the two appliances in their kitchens that they thought were the biggest energy-wasting culprits. To the person, each one listed both their dishwasher and their electric stove. By the way, none of these folks thought that their refrigerator was an energy-waster. I pointed them to blog number one. Like them, I really thought my dishwasher and electric stove used lots of electricity, so I try to use them sparingly. I was surprised to find that they actually use much less electricity than I thought. This was good news for me because I love to cook and hate to wash dishes.
First, the Dishwasher. I figured that we ran our dishwasher 18 times (cycles) a month. That’s a little more than every-other-day. At $0.17 per KWH, the dishwasher costs us an average of $6.62 a month. Huh. I spend more than that on breakfast. What about all that hot water? We were of the opinion that if we cut down on running the dishwasher and washed dishes by hand, we’d be saving money. Not so. I found that we use less energy washing dishes in a dishwasher than washing by hand! This is one of those counter-intuitive things. It’s like taking a bath versus taking a shower. With all that water running down the drain, it would seem that a bath would use less water than a shower, but just the opposite is true. Same with washing dishes by hand.
Even though there was a smile on my face when I found that the dishwasher wasn’t a true ‘energy-guzzler,’ I was given a couple of tips that can help reduce the energy usage even more.
First, run the dishwasher only when full. We found that this reduced our monthly usage from around 18 cycles to around 15. But here’s the tip that I thought was pretty cool. We were told to use the cool-dry cycle (on our dishwasher it’s called the ‘no heat’ button) rather than the hot cycle. Never thought about that. I guess I thought that they needed that cycle to make sure the germs were killed. The utility guy told me that, with 160 degree water, the germs were already dead and it just takes a little longer for the dishes to dry. For those of you who don’t have this feature on your dishwasher, you can turn it off after the final rinse and let the dishes air dry. I guess that this can reduce the dishwasher’s energy usage by 30-40 percent.
Next, the Electric Stove. We figured that we used the stove-top around 45 minutes to an hour a day. The average monthly cost, oddly enough, is only $7.25 a month. Not bad. Everyone I asked thought this one was the bad-boy of the kitchen, using much more energy than any other appliance. Interestingly enough, some of my friends have spent hundreds of dollars on counter-top appliances that they purchased just so they wouldn’t use their stove. One friend, who just spent $135 on a convection-type, dome-shaped oven, upon hearing how little his electric stove was really costing him, gave me the “thanks a lot” look. Should have saved his money.
In closing, here are a couple of tips we picked-up regarding how we can reduce the stove usage even more.
• Foods cook faster at lower temperatures if you use pots with flat bottoms and tight-fitting lids.
• Pans that are bigger or smaller than the heating coil waste energy. (Weird. I thought that by putting the smaller pan on a larger coil would cause it to heat-up faster)
• You can also save energy by using your microwave oven, slow-cooker, toaster oven, and electric skillet instead of the larger oven or stove.
If you have been following our latest blogs, you have seen that have we discovered 10 appliances that are hidden energy-guzzlers for the average home owner. The next energy-guzzler we tackled is our air conditioner. We have a 3-ton unit that, when running only four hours a day, costs us a whopping $80.50 a month, which is considerable portion of our $258.00 monthly electricity bill. In our part of the country, we NEED air conditioning-it’s really not an option. Our local utility expert, however, gave me some great tips on how to reduce our monthly bill. Here are fifteen (Yes…15!) areas I was told to check that could shave-off a considerable amount of air conditioning expense:
1. Raise the temperature: It was suggested that I not turn on my AC unless it’s more than 90 degrees outside. Each degree below 78 will increase my energy use by 3-4%. We currently set it at 80 and let it run, a practice which is going to stop.
2. Install ceiling fans and make sure they are spinning the right direction: I didn’t realize that fans can actually make you feel 3 to 8 degrees cooler, allowing you to dial your AC to a higher temperature and still feel just as cool. I was told to make sure my fan is blowing DOWN, to send air past one’s body, removing the hot air that surrounds the body. If your fan is blowing up, it won’t do any good. In fact, it’s worse than no fan, because it moves the warm air at the ceiling back down towards the living area. Who knew?
3. Use a timer: My thermostat has a built-in timer, which I have never used. I was told to program it to turn-off both during those times when we were away from home, and at night.
4. Close registers in unused rooms: It was suggested that we close registers in rooms we’re not using so as not to pay to cool them, but was warned that if I closed too many of them, the pressure in the system could cause leaks in the ducts! I was told to check with an AC professional first to see how many & which registers are safe to close at the same time.
5. Replace an old air conditioner: My AC unit is 8 years old, so I’m good. I was told that the newer units use 30-50% less electricity than 15-year-old models.
6. Make sure the condenser unit is not being blocked: This was something I wasn’t watching. I learned that tall grass and other debris on or around the condenser can restrict air flow and use more electricity. I have bushes growing around mine (to hide it) and the bushes have been trimmed back.
7. Clean the condenser coils at the start of each AC season: I was told that I could wash the fin coils on the outside with a garden hose, but unless I knew what I was doing, have the coils on the inside serviced by an AC specialist.
8. Check my attic insulation: Poorly insulated attics can lose up to 40% of a house’s cool air. The average home built in 1985-90 has R-11 to R-15 insulation but needs up to R-49. Mine was built in 1995 and has around an R-30, so I need some help here. But the following suggestion made even more sense.
9. Install a reflective barrier: This is a high-tech, high performance reflective insulation (sometimes called radiant barrier insulation) which is a strong, thin aluminum foil sheet designed to block radiant heat transfer across open spaces. Installed on the rafters in my attic, it works with the existing insulation to boost the insulating power of my home. Besides decreasing the amount of attic heat that radiates into the living space, it might reduce the heat enough that I could consider turning the attic space itself into a living space. Not a bad idea for the future.
10. Test my AC ducts for leaks: Check this out: Austin Energy tested thousands of home duct systems and found that the average home loses 27% of its heating or cooling from leaky ducts. And over 86% of homes had ducts which lost more than 10%. Leaking ducts and insufficient insulation meant that the average home used 162 kWh/mo. extra electricity per month, or 18% more than normal. This is an extra $233 a year at average electrical rates.
11. Use shades or blinds on my windows: I like a well-lighted home, so I have a habit of leaving the drapes open. But I was told to keep direct sunlight out. Direct sunlight can raise the temperature of a room by 10-20 degrees. The less heat gets into my home, the less I have to pay to remove it. Again, see the following suggestion, which is even better.
12. Install reflective film on my windows: I found that according to the California Energy Commission, 30% of a structure’s cooling requirements are due to solar energy entering through glass. Reflective film reflects the sun’s heat from my windows, and can block 40-60% of heat and modern films reflect heat away without blocking the light too, so I can still have nice, bright rooms. Good idea.
13. Reduce heat by changing my light bulbs: This is interesting. Lights create a lot of heat which my AC system has to remove. I was shown that I could replace my normal lights with (CFL) bulbs, which use 75% less energy and create 70-90% less heat at the same time. Regular lights give off 10% light and 90% heat, while CFL’s give off 90% light and 10% heat. They are more expensive, but are guaranteed to last ten years or more, and will save me in the long-run.
14. Use storm windows and doors: He said, “If you’re ambitious, install storm windows and doors.” Not being in an area that gets snow, I wondered about the logic of this suggestion, but found that they can reduce the amount of cooling or heating lost through single pane glass by 50%.
15. The best suggestion: Get an energy audit by a reputable company who are experts in this area. An energy audit will assess my home’s current and desired comfort levels, energy expenditure, utility bills, and where I’d like to see improvements. It’s like going to a reputable mechanic for a check-up and reduces the guess-work.
I like the idea of an energy audit. Coupled with the above tips and suggestions, it will give me the assurance of covering all bases when it comes to significantly reducing the $80.50 monthly air-conditioning bill that I’ve been paying.