Tag Archives: home energy inspection

Will Upgrading My Refrigerator Save Money?

One of the biggest energy guzzlers in your home (besides, most likely, your thermal envelope, which lets expensive conditioned air escape through air leaks and poorly insulated walls) is the refrigerator. Upgrading it, believe it or not, can save you a bundle of money in the long run, as long as you don’t simply put your old fridge down in the basement and plug it back in. Now, before you balk at the high upfront cost of replacing your fridge, let us explain why we (admittedly, energy-efficiency/penny-pinching geeks) think it’s a good idea.

Two Reasons Why You Should Replace Your Old Refrigerator

1) You pay twice for an inefficient refrigerator.

If you have an older fridge, it’s getting cool on the inside by running a motor that makes the room itself warmer, just like a heater would. If you have air conditioning, it has to work that much harder (also using electricity) to remove the heat from your house — so there’s a double-whammy penalty for having an inefficient fridge.

2) New Energy Star models are much, much more efficient than older refrigerators.

A friend of ours at Energy Circle (Tom) did a little research on a fridge he bought in 1998 (not too long ago), and discovered that replacing it with an Energy Star model (of the same design, size, etc.) that he could buy today would use less than 1/2 the electricity. If he got a more efficient design (i.e. freezer on top instead of side-by-side), it would use 1/4 as much. If he got the most efficient model of the most efficient design, it would use about 1/6th as much electricity. And none of this accounts for the important point that all of that inefficiency is released in the form of heat, which makes his house hotter! Yikes!

Research Validating Replacement of Old Refrigerators

We think the old refrigerator problem is actually bigger than most people think. The Energy Information Administration estimated that in 2001, more energy was used for refrigeration than for space heating, water heating, or lighting. We also have a great deal of faith in the Energy Star program itself: despite some recent criticism, the Energy Star label has been hugely successful in driving energy efficiency in appliances and electronics since the program’s creation in 1992; and, as we saw recently when the label was peeled from a number of LG and Kenmore refrigerators, the program continues to evolve and improve.

Calculate Your Energy Savings 

Energy Star has a great tool for calculating the savings of upgrading your refrigerator on their website. A quick test of the tool shows, for example, that replacing a side-by-side model from 1992 with a new Energy Star model would save about $125 per year (along with the savings garnered from having to run the AC less frequently).

On a final note, it’s important to keep in mind that simply buying a new refrigerator, and sticking the old one down in the basement to keep a six-pack cold, doesn’t fix anything. To help drive the point, in addition to rebates and other incentives for purchasing Energy Star appliances, a lot of states are now issuing rebates for recycling your old fridge (essentially a cash-for-appliances program aimed at getting those old fridges out of the basement).

So the mantra is simple: refrigerate, recycle, rebate.

Interested In an Inspection of Your Home?

INTEC performs a complete inspection of your home using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment before any weatherization work is done. This allows us to accurately examine the insulation and other energy-saving needs of your house. We will use infrared thermography cameras to examine the insulation and air infiltration, and we will check the air exchange rates between the inside and outside environments. Our goal is to provide the most cost effective and energy efficient solution to lower your energy costs and improve your indoor air quality. Contact us today to book your energy audit and inspection!

 

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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.