Tag Archives: increase energy efficiency

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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Are Light Switches Big Sources of Leaks?

 

junction boxes

Here’s an interesting video from our friends at Energy Vanguard that shows how much air can leak through simple things like light switches.

What Is a Common Place for Air Leaks to Occur In a Home?

Those tiny gaps around switches and electrical outlets leak quite a bit of air. Now think about how many light switches and sockets you have throughout your home and it’s not so difficult to imagine the amount of air that you can lose. It’s the last thing you want on a cold winter night.

How Can You Stop Air Leakage?

Junction boxes.

Junction boxes are metal or plastic, about 2.5 inches to 3.5 inches deep, and it’s where the electrical wiring in your home goes live when the wires come together. The boxes can house several wires inside depending on the size of the junction box. The purpose of a junction box is to secure electrical wires, known as hot (black), white (neutral) and grounding (green or copper).

Have an Energy Audit Performed

A whole-house energy audit will look at the building envelope (which inludes all the components that make up your home’s outer shell, including windows, doors, insulation levels, and the level of air leakage in between building materials); all combustion equipment including boilers, furnaces and water heaters; and the movement of air within the home to ensure that the air you and your family are breathing is fresh, healthy and safe. During the audit, professionals will use an infrared camera to identify air leakage and deficient insulation, a blower door to measure the rate of air infiltration in the home, and a duct blaster test to determine whether your ducts are well-sealed, among other various tools.

Contact us with any questions, to schedule a home energy audit process or to learn more about  what steps you can take to improve home energy performance.