Tag Archives: energy efficiency

5 Energy Efficiency Myths You Need to Know

Graphic of outside of a home preparing for energy audit.

Do you really know the truth about what does and does not save energy? These days, many people strive to conserve energy and to save money when it comes to the upkeep of their home. Committing to saving energy is a great start, but make sure to educate yourself on the do’s and don’ts of energy efficiency. From heating and cooling to home appliances, let’s cover five common myths about saving energy.

Myth #1: Do ceiling fans really save energy? (False-ish)

Well, yes and no. Ceiling fans circulate air, but they don’t really provide a cooling element to a space quite like an air conditioner does. Additionally, it is suggested that homeowners raise their thermostat by 4 degrees when using simultaneously with an air conditioner. This will provide you with the same amount of coolness while allowing you to run the a/c unit for a shorter duration. Fans really excel at cooling people down, not chilling a room, so do turn them off when you leave the room.

Myth #2: Closing air vents saves money, right? (False)

Closing off vents in rooms that aren’t frequently used actually puts significant pressure on the fan. This can cause a number of other issues in the long-run. Ultimately, when closing off vents, extra back pressure is applied to the fan and in-turn, the unit. This could put an unnecessary amount of stress on the unit and cause it to fail much sooner than it’s manufacturer life expectancy.

 

Myth #3: New windows equals mega energy savings! (False)

Replacing old windows doesn’t come close to the amount you would spend on new ones. Not even a little. Yes, newer double pane windows are more energy efficiency, but not for the cost of news windors or to the degree you would think. The amount of energy saved is small. The majority of warm and cool air leaving your house isn’t leaving through your windows. Replacing your windows is a good idea when selling your home though, as it increases the resale value. If we’re solely talking about energy efficiency though, prioritize other energy saving practices until then.

 

Myth #4: Bump the thermostat way up to heat the home faster. (False)

A furnace is meant to heat in increments at its max power. Significantly upping the temp on the thermostat will only make the heater work harder and burn more energy in the process.
As the furnace runs longer and works harder, it has the potential to cause issues down the road. Turning the thermostat to a higher temp will not warm the home faster.

 

Myth #5: Turning appliances off saves power. (False)

Nope. There is such a thing as phantom power or standby power. Can you count on two hands how many appliances you leave plugged in an outlet at home? 10, 20, 30? Each item that is plugged in slowly draws electricity even when they are powered off. Choose your appliances carefully, unplug others or invest in products that can reduce standby power usage to truly reduce your energy consumption.

Intec provides low cost energy audits for those serious about increasing their homes energy efficiency. Contact Intec for a through whole-house energy assessment/audit that includes:

  • Assessment of building envelope (windows, doors, insulation levels, and the level of air leakage in between building materials)
  • Combustion equipment including boilers
  • Measurement of air movement within the home
  • Furnaces
  • Water heaters

When Do You Know You Need New Windows?

It speaks to the marketing savvy of window manufacturers and installers that, when faced with drafty rooms or high energy bills, most homeowners typically think that the best solution would be new replacement windows. While energy efficient replacement windows will likely lead to improved comfort and lower utility bills, the truth is that there are many far more cost effective solutions to improve your home’s comfort and energy efficiency.

Windows are expensive.

Whatever tax breaks or special deals may be going on in your area, the fact remains that replacing your windows is a labor-intensive, high-material-cost job that will likely set you back in the tens of thousands. If you’re to invest in one of the varieties of very energy efficient windows on the market, the price will be even higher. Even if you were to reap significant energy savings from your new windows, the payback period from an energy standpoint will be several years at the earliest.

Windows typically aren’t responsible for much heat loss.

Due to a phenomenon called the Stack Effect, whereby cold air enters the home through holes in the basement or crawlspace and rises as it heats up, through the living space and into the attic, the majority of the heat loss in your home typically takes place through holes in the basement and the attic. While leaky windows are certainly responsible for some heat loss, and some drafts, focusing on the more significant leaks in the attic and basement is a far more cost-effective way to reduce your energy bills and improve your home’s comfort.

Air sealing and insulation are less expensive, more effective solutions.

Focusing on these big air leaks in the basement and attic is typically far less expensive than replacing all of your home’s windows. Consider hiring a qualified home energy auditor to determine where the most significant air leakage is taking place, or hiring a full service Home Performance contractor to use energy auditing diagnostic tool like blower door testing and infrared imaging to pinpoint the air leaks and seal them up in one fell swoop.

Once your home’s air leakage is reduced, consider beefing up your home’s building envelope with increased insulation. Products like spray foam and blown-in cellulose insulation are typically better at stopping air movement than traditional fiberglass batts, so consider these options when hiring an insulation contractor to increase the R-value of your attic and walls.

For more information about how to save energy and improve your home’s comfort cost effectively, feel free to contact us directly. We’d be happy to help with any questions you may have.

5 Ways a Home Energy Audit Will Improve Your Life.

You may have heard about home energy audits before, but maybe you’re not quite sure that you need one. After all, your home is relatively new. It’s pretty comfortable most of the time, and your utility bills aren’t that bad. Maybe you’ve switched out your incandescent light bulbs for CFLs, and upgraded to a low flow showerhead, so figure there’s not much more you can do. According to the Department of Energy, you can save 5.0 – 30.0% on your month energy bill by having an energy audit of your home every few years or after any changes to the envelope of the home.

 

Energy infographic.

Infographic by Sarah Gerrity, Energy Department.

 

As you can see, there’s a lot more to home energy than lightbulbs and solar panels, and a home energy audit is the place to begin. Here are five ways that a home energy audit from a certified home energy auditor will likely improve your life — right away.

Prepare for an energy audit.

After you book your appointment to receive your professional energy audit, take a little time to prepare. Jot down a list of problems that you have noticed (ie: drafty rooms, poor air circulation,  condensation, door way and window air escape). Providing your auditor with this information will help guide him or her in the assessment. Consider having your electric bills on hand in case you’ve noticed any major fluctuations, so that the auditor can troubleshoot.

Remember that when an auditor comes to your home that they will do an outside-inside assessment of the home. An inspection of the outside of the home is critical to an accurate energy audit. The auditor will determine the size of the home, number of windows and identify any apparent inefficiencies.

Improve your home’s comfort.

Energy savings are one of the primary reasons people sign up for energy audits, but oftentimes they’re actually more excited about the improved comfort once the work is done. Cost savings are good, but there’s something hugely refreshing about walking into a once-cold room for the first time after an energy retrofit and noticing that the drafts are all gone. Having a home energy audit or assessment will provide you with a report of how much energy you consume and how to remedy any issues of energy loss.

Reduce your energy bills.

The amount of money you can save on heating and cooling bills varies from home to home, but it’s typically substantial. Most new homes built to code are grossly inefficient. Insulation is often improperly installed; air leaks around service penetrations, windows and doors are abundant; and leaks in the building envelope often permit uncontrolled moisture to enter the home – causing indoor air quality problems and potential durability risks.

Improve indoor air quality.

According to the EPA, “In the last several years, a growing body of scientific evidence has indicated that the air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities.”

Why is this? How can this be? This is because of chemicals from building materials, mold and other toxins caused by uncontrolled moisture, radon, dust, and a variety of other factors; and is compounded by a lack of adequate, controlled ventilation. A comprehensive energy audit takes each of these factors into consideration to ensure that your home is not only energy efficient, but safe. Children, the elderly and those with respiratory issues are most at risk for additional health issues due to poor air quality. Take the next steps to having your home evaluated for safety and energy efficiency!

Increase your home’s resale value.

A home energy audit is the first step toward a more energy efficient home. In an era of turbulent, rising energy prices, homebuyers and real estate professionals are increasingly looking at a home’s operating cost as a point of value when looking at homes. An energy efficient home has lower energy bills than an inefficient, code-built home, making it an attractive option.

Peace of mind.

Do you know how much energy your home is wasting? Are you sure that the air in your home is safe to breathe? Is there radon in your basement? Are air leaks in your ceiling causing moisture to build up and pose a risk of rot and structural damage? During a comprehensive energy audit, you’ll get an answer. Considering that your home is likely the biggest investment you’ll make in your life, it’s worth ensuring that it’s safe and healthy. We can help.

Contact us for more information, or to schedule an energy audit today.