An Energy Efficient Home in 2017
Being energy efficient is no longer just a nice philosophy; it makes excellent financial sense.
Until recently, items for your home that were truly energy efficient were so expensive that they weren’t cost effective; you would consistently lose money on the items you’ve purchased. Today, things like LED light bulbs, super-efficient furnaces, and even solar power systems are inexpensive enough to make them fill out the balance sheet well.
Construction and Reconstruction
- Walls – For many of us, the furthest we think about making our walls energy efficient is to put in insulation. However, there is much more that can be done. For example, installing a vapor barrier and a dead air space can prevent heat and cold from being transferred through the walls. Choosing the best siding for exterior walls, such as stucco, can also increase the energy efficiency of the whole house.
- Roof – Roofing your home is more than a matter of simply keeping out the rain; the roofing materials you choose can make a significant impact on your home’s efficiency. Putting on an insulating underlayer with metal roofing can help to keep thermal transfer to a minimum. One of the easiest ways to make your roof energy efficient is to leave the old roof on the house when upgrading. Simply place the new roof on top of the old one and you have an extra blanket.
- Attic – In most homes, this is either a crawl space or a room that has no function except to store things. It can also be the fastest place for your house to transfer heat and cold from the outside. Your attic should be well-insulated with layers of insulation and vapor barriers. If you find that your upper rooms don’t stay warm enough, it’s worth looking at the insulation in the attic. For little money, you can add fiberglass insulation or have blown in insulation installed.
- Flooring – This is another wonderful place to lose the heat and cold in your house. If your home doesn’t have a basement, you should look into insulating the floor to keep the outdoor heat and cold from affecting the indoors. If you are building a new home, this can be done simply. If you are working on an existing home, this might require a lot of crawling around under the house.
- Crawl Spaces – Every home has crawl spaces. Often, these spaces have not been well-insulated. Search your home for crawl spaces that are in exterior walls and insulate them well. For particularly small spaces, you can look at blown-in insulation.
Energy and Appliances
Today, it’s easy to make your own energy at home, recycle water, and use equipment that is so efficient it puts older models to shame.
- Solar Energy – Solar panels are now officially less expensive per kilowatt hour for energy generated at home. The best part is that you can scale your solar panels to your home’s needs. If you have more energy than you need, your system will ‘sell’ the electricity to the power company and you can potentially get paid for power.
- ENERGY STAR® Appliances – While most appliances sold these days are ENERGY STAR rated, some are extremely efficient machines. You can get furnaces that turn 99 percent of the fuel they use into heat. There are washing machines and dryers that are so energy efficient they can almost work on batteries.
- Geothermal Energy – Depending on where you live, you can use geothermal energy to heat water for your home. This can be used for showers, dishwashing, etc., and it can also be used to generate electricity, as well as heat the house and even run your air conditioning.
- Low-Power Devices – There are many devices, including computers, fans, and lighting, that run on exceptionally low power. Developments in lithium ion batteries and small handheld devices have opened up a world of devices that run on power levels so low that a hamster could power them.
Having an energy-efficient home happens in three basic stages:
- Start by looking at the weaknesses in your current home or design.
- Look for solutions that are cost-effective and within your budget.
- Implement those solutions and start saving money.
Being super energy efficient is much easier today than before. You can find much of what you need right at your local retail stores. It’s just a matter of getting started.