Hidden Costs of Inefficient Home Heating, Cooling and Insulation

Hidden Costs of Inefficient Home Heating, Cooling and Insulation

By:  Carl Romito

According to EnergySavers.gov, the combined energy use of 113 million American households is equal to 22 percent of the nation’s energy total consumption.

Saving Money

In 2002, the Energy Star program helped Americans save enough energy to offer utility service to 15 million homes. The decrease in greenhouse gas emissions was the amount of energy that 14 million cars used, saving $7 million, in the process.

Look for Air Leaks

The Department of Energy (Energy.gov) explains that 56 percent of utility costs come from energy used to heat and cool homes. Since you are spending more than half of what you pay out in utilities each month on heating and cooling, the first place to look for lost or wasted energy should be spaces where warm air escapes during the winter.

Look in your attic, at exterior walls in your basement and elsewhere in your home, such as crawl spaces. If you have unfinished spaces in your home, look for the R-value that appears on the insulation. Knowing this is helpful in figuring out whether your insulation is adequate for your local weather.

Take Advantage of the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick

The Home Energy Yardstick is a tool you can use online. It will look over your utility bills for the past 12 months to compare your energy consumption with other similar homes. It isn’t meant to replace a professional home energy audit, but it can be useful in helping you find ways to lessen your in-home energy usage.

The yardstick uses a scoring system of 1 to 10, and score analysis is based on an algorithm that considers the size of the home, the number of people living there, and local weather. If nothing else, the results may motivate you to make improvement in your home’s overall energy efficiency.

Have a Professional Home Energy Audit

The technician will come into your home with a checklist and an arsenal of tools that he/she will use to go through every room in your home. They will look for every possible way that your home may be losing or wasting energy. The results of an audit may ultimately help you lower your utility bills by as much as 5 to 30 percent. The Home Energy Audit Info-graphic outlines exactly what a home energy audit involves and what it is designed to do for you, according to Energy.gov.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) will help you see state programs to help you make your house more energy-efficient. You will find information about getting help to have a professional home energy audit. Residential Energy Services Network helps people find qualified professionals in your area to do a home energy audit or you can have a Home Energy Survey (HES) Rater do an energy-efficiency analysis, comparing your home to other homes.

Reduce Cooling Costs With Attractive Window Treatments

One of the easiest and most cost effective ways to lower cooling costs is by adding attractive window treatments. Just Blinds encourages homeowners and renters to think of blinds as more than mere window covers. By choosing the proper shades or blinds, you benefit from their dual function — giving you privacy and keeping cool air in.

Solar shades are especially effective for blocking heat during the summer, helping you reduce cooling costs without sacrificing appearance. Cellular shades give you the beauty of honeycomb, single or double cell shades with insulating, sound absorbing and light blocking features in one product.

Take Advantage of Energy Star Heating and Cooling Products

Consider replacing your heating and cooling system with more efficient Energy Star rated products. Products that bare the seal undergo stringent government testing to prove that they are much more energy efficient. Overall, these products save you money on your utility bills, while allowing you to decrease your overall carbon foot print, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Star Heating and Cooling Guide will give you specific advice on ways you can decrease your energy use to lower utility costs.

If you live in a home where the cost of installing duct work for a new heating and cooling system may not be as cost effective as alternatives, consider going with Energy Star rated ductless heating and cooling. You get the benefit of a more energy-efficient heating and cooling system, greater comfort control, and a potential annual savings of about 30%. If you spend $1000 a year on heating and cooling alone, a system like this could save you $300.

Geo-Thermal heating and cooling offers even greater energy-efficiency, and newer technology incorporates water-to-water features by using in-home refrigerant to water-heat exchangers. The greatest benefit of energy-star rated Geo-thermal heating and cooling is the 45 percent increased energy-efficiency over older models.

By replacing your home’s older, energy-guzzling heating and cooling systems with new energy star rated systems, you get the advantage of tax break incentives, and of course, the long-term monetary savings on your utility bills.

About the author: Carl Romito
Carl shares his insight on auto, life and home insurance after spending more than a decade in the industry.