As temperatures begin to drop and your energy focus turns from cooling your home to heating it, consider using this time to increase energy efficiency and cost savings for the colder months ahead. Whether your home is old or new, chances are you are spending more on energy costs than necessary. Your meter only reads the energy that was used in a cycle, and energy that was used translated to dollars. Egyptian Electric Cooperative will be offering two options for energy audits. Based on the feedback from our auditors, or yourself, prioritize actions that you can take based on your time and budget, weighing where you can get the most impact for your investment. Increasing your home’s energy efficiency will make your family comfortable while saving you money. Every family uses energy differently. For a great resource on how to conserve energy or to learn more about usage, view our Unique Energy Needs booklet!
Walk-thru Energy Evaluation
The first option will be a ‘walkthrough’ energy audit. The walkthrough audit is basically as it sounds; the auditor will walk through the home looking at attic insulation levels, foundation insulation, wall insulation and the heating and cooling system. As there will be no written report, the homeowner will need to be present and ready to take notes. The auditor will discuss any deficiencies they discover and make verbal recommendations to the homeowner. The cost of a walk-through energy audit is free for first time requests.
Do-It Yourself Evaluation
Armed with some basic knowledge and a little time, you can conduct a baseline energy evaluation of your home to identify where you are losing energy (and money). Use a checklist and take notes on problems you find as you walk through your home. Remember, the audit itself won’t save you money unless you act on your findings. So, where to start? If your home has multiple levels, work from the top down. Begin in your attic or highest floor, and work your way down to the first floor or basement.
1. Insulation and air leaks (drafts) – According to the Department of Energy, improving your home’s insulation and sealing air leaks are the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars. Check to see whether there is sufficient insulation in the attic. Are openings containing piping, ductwork and chimney sealed?
2. Electronic devices – Inventory all of the electronic devices you have and how often you use them. Computers, printers, DVD players, phones and gaming consoles are notorious “vampire power” users – they drain energy even when not in use. If items can be turned off without disrupting your lifestyle, consider plugging them into a power strip that can be turned on and off (or put on a timer).
3. Lighting – Note where you still have incandescent lights. Can you replace them with CFL or LED upgrades? Do you have nightlights? If so, consider replacing them with LED nightlights. Are there places where you can install motion sensor lights in low use areas, such as a closet, porch or garage?
4. Thermostat/indoor temperature – Do you have a programmable thermostat? When was the last time it was programmed? Is the date and time correct? If they are not, this could throw off the automatic settings. (Editorial note: This article is intended for fall publications. Please edit the following copy if you plan to use during the summer months.) Is it set so the temperature is lower during the day and/or times when no one is home and at night when people are sleeping? Consider lowering the temperature a few degrees.
5. Appliances and cleaning – Appliances are large energy users, and if yours are more than 10 years old, they are likely not as energy efficient as today’s options. How and when you use them also make a difference. Do you wash your clothes in hot water, or can you use cold water instead? Do you use your washer, dryer or dishwasher during the day? Consider running them at night, during off-peak times. Does your hot water heater have a blanket? If not, consider insulating it. Make sure your dryer vent isn’t blocked – this will not only save energy, it may also prevent a fire.
Building a New Home
We never seem to forget that the cost of owning a car includes the cost of gasoline. But for some reason many of us forget that the cost of owning a home includes more than a mortgage, insurance and taxes — it also includes the energy bills. Making an energy efficient investment in your new home today will mean you’ll have a comfortable, quiet and economical home for life.
The Egyptian Electric Cooperative is pleased to provide the Building the Home of your Dreams, thank you to the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives and various other statewide employees. This booklet provides lots of great ideas on how to build an energy efficient home that will provide you and your family with a comfortable, affordable and efficient home for many years.
This is the third version of Building the Home of your Dreams. The cooperatives produced two earlier versions, under the Certified Comfort Home label, before updating the current booklet. The electric cooperatives recommend that any new home meet the most up to date IEEC, which is Illinois law. If you are planning to build a new house in the future, we advise building to the standards in this booklet. In addition, the concepts and ideas referenced in this booklet generally apply to renovation and remodeling projects as well. If in doubt about anything, or have questions involving new home construction, please remember to ALWAYS contact the energy efficiency professionals at your electric cooperative. We’ll be glad to help you successfully build the ENERGY EFFICIENT Home of Your Dreams.
Retrofitting your manufactured home for energy efficiency
By Anne Prince
If you live in a manufactured home, chances are you may have a disproportionately higher energy bill than a family living in a modular or traditional wood-frame home. The good news is there are many ways you can improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Manufactured home or mobile home?
First, a clarification. Some use the term manufactured home and mobile home interchangeably. A mobile home is a factory built home constructed before 1976 when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) set national standards that nearly every manufactured home must meet. Thereafter, factory-built homes were called manufactured homes and are engineered and constructed in accordance with the 1976 federal code administered by HUD.
Manufactured homes come in all shapes and sizes. They may be single- or multi-sectioned and are available in various sizes and floor plan configurations. There are many differences between manufactured homes built before the U.S. HUD Code took effect in 1976 and those built afterward. One of the major differences is energy efficiency. Those built before federal standards were put in place were generally not as energy efficient as later models, even though thermal standards were changed in 1994. And while your manufactured home may have been built to the energy standards of the time, significant progress has been made over the past decades with high-efficiency mechanical equipment, windows, insulation, siding and roofing materials.
In short, whether your home is less than five years old or more than 50, most homes can benefit from energy efficiency measures simply due to wear and tear. Sunlight, seasonal temperature changes and wind can increase air leakage. Doors and windows may not close tightly and duct work can spring leaks, wasting cooling and heating energy.
If your home was built before 1976, the Dept. of Energy recommends the following steps to retrofit your manufactured home and improve energy efficiency:
- Install energy-efficient windows and doors
- Replace insulation in the belly
- Make general repairs (seal bottom board, caulk windows, doors, ducts, etc.)
- Add insulation to your walls
- Install or seal belly wrap
- Add insulation to your roof or install a roof cap.
Additional energy saving tips
In addition to the measures listed above, consider caulking and weather-stripping windows and doors, particularly if you are not able to replace them with more energy-efficient ones. Properly seal any openings around ducts and plumbing fixtures. Replace any incandescent light bulbs with LEDs – both indoors and outside. Reduce “phantom” loads by unplugging electronic devices such as computers, printers and gaming systems when not in use. If you are planning to move to a new manufactured home, look for the Energy Star rated model.