The City of Ann Arbor recently rolled out its A2Zero plan for complete carbon neutrality by 2030, which calls for total electrification in the community. If you live in Ann Arbor, the phasing out of gas heating systems and appliances will directly impact you — and your electric bills.
With that in mind, making the switch to energy efficiency in your home can significantly reduce your utility bills. Tax incentives for installing energy efficient systems can make them even more cost-effective opportunities.
Here are five ways to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency.
1. Invest in Home Office Energy Efficiency
With so many people working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no better time than now to upgrade your office and choose energy saving options.
ENERGY STAR labeled office equipment can provide dramatic energy savings, as much as 75% savings for some products. ENERGY STAR labeled office products use about half the electricity of standard equipment.
Here are home office energy saving tips from the U.S. Department of Energy:
Unplug electronics, or use a power strip and use the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance, to avoid "vampire" loads.
Use rechargeable batteries for products like cordless phones and digital cameras.
Turn off the computer monitor if you aren't going to use your PC for more than 20 minutes.
Turn off both the computer’s central processing unit and monitor if you're not going to use your PC for more than 2 hours.
Using sleep mode or power management features can save you up to $30 each year on your electricity bills. Make sure you have the power-down feature set up on your PC through your operating system software.
2. Upgrade to a Solar Water Heater
Solar water heaters, or solar domestic hot water systems, are a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home. Solar water heating systems include storage tanks and solar collectors.
There are two types of solar water heating systems: active, which have circulating pumps and controls, and passive, which don't.
According to the Department of Energy, Before you purchase and install a solar water heating system, you will want to do the following:
Estimate the cost and energy efficiency of a solar water heating system
Here are some numbers from the U.S. Department of Energy:
On average, if you install a solar water heater, your water heating bills should drop 50%–80%. Also, because the sun is free, you're protected from future fuel shortages and price hikes.
If your fuel savings are more than $15 per month, the solar investment will be profitable immediately. On a monthly basis, you will save more than you pay.
3. Properly Insulate Your Home
Insulation in your home provides resistance to heat flow, which in turn lowers your heating and cooling costs. Without properly insulating your home, from the roof down to the foundation, you may experience higher heating and cooling costs and overall discomfort.
To choose the best insulation for your home from the many types of insulation on the market, you’ll need to know where you want or need to install the insulation (see image to the right), and what goal you want the insulation to achieve.
Here are some numbers from ENERGY STAR:
Homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists.
By properly insulating your home, sealing air leaks throughout the house, focusing on leaks to the attic space, through the foundation, and around windows and doors, you can achieve a 25% reduction in total air infiltration.
4. Install a Smart Thermostat
Smart thermostats, or programmable thermostats, can display your home energy use, help you find ways to save energy and money, and allow you to remotely adjust your thermostat or turn appliances off.
You can also save up to 10% each year on heating and cooling bills by simply turning back the thermostat 7°-10°F for eight hours a day.
When programming your thermostat, consider when you normally go to sleep and wake up and the schedules of everyone in the household. If there is a time during the day when the house is unoccupied for four hours or more, it would make sense to adjust the temperature during those periods.
Here are some numbers from the U.S. Department of Energy:
Space heating is the largest energy expense in the average U.S. home, accounting for about 45% of energy bills.
Save an estimated 10% a year on heating and cooling costs by using a programmable thermostat.
5. Upgrade Your Laundry
Large appliances, such as the refrigerator, dishwasher and laundry washer and dryer, make up about 13% of monthly utility costs for average homeowners. By updating your appliances, you can reduce energy costs and increase your home’s energy efficiency. When looking to upgrade your laundry appliances, look for ENERGY STAR labels and the bright yellow EnergyGuide label that is required by law and displays the appliance’s annual energy consumption and operating cost.
Here are some facts from ENERGY STAR:
On average, a new ENERGY STAR certified clothes washer can save you about $35 a year on your utility bills compared to a standard model.
A full-sized ENERGY STAR certified clothes washer uses 14 gallons of water per load, compared to the 20 gallons used by a standard machine. That's a savings of more than 2,000 gallons of water, per year.
Inefficient washers cost consumers about $4.7 billion each year in energy and water. If you have a standard clothes washer that is approximately 10 years old, it's costing you about $185 more per year.
Contact our team today for more information about how you can increase your home’s energy efficiency and what we can do to help you make the switch to complete electrification and reduce your carbon footprint.