Tag Archives: save energy

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

Is Your Home Under-insulated? Find Out with an Energy Audit.

Winter’s coming. It’s already heating season. So how do you save money on heating costs? You’ve got to own your heat. Simple as that. You’ve paid for all that warm air already, so it doesn’t make much sense to waste it now. According to North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), they estimate that roughly 90% of existing U.S. homes are under-insulated. Are you sure you aren’t one of them?

Air Sealing and Proper Insulation

A simple enough premise – it’s the application that gets complicated. We (and most building science experts) strongly recommend air sealing and insulation as high priority measures to make your home use less energy, make you more comfortable, and make the planet happy.

Air sealing can sometimes be done by a competent do-it-yourself-er, but insulation is trickier. It generally has to be done by a contractor, and for the most part can only be installed by getting inside walls that are now closed up. And unlike air sealing flaws, which you can often see just by scanning your basement walls, the quality of insulation in your house is, for the most part, difficult to assess. (Thankfully, the attic, which is the most critical spot for insulation, is the easiest to access).

What Are the Different Types of Insulation?

  • Cellulose insulation: Cellulose is the most cost effective solution in improving energy efficiency in existing homes. Cellulose is 82% to 85% recycled paper manufactured into an eco-friendly insulation product. A primary feature of cellulose is its ability to stop air infiltration by densely free-flowing into cavities and tight spots, filling cracks and covering seams.
  • Spray foam insulation: Icynene is a self-expanding foam insulation that provides superior performance in energy efficiency, air quality and sound control. It is a liquid that expands in seconds up to 100 times its original volume, sealing all gaps and crevices. This particular insulation provides a superior alternative to other insulation types and ensures a strong air barrier. In addition, Icynene provides exceptional sound control and when applied to inside walls, reduces the noise from plumbing stacks, laundry rooms and entertainment centers.
  • Fiberglass insulation: Fiberglass is the most commonly found home insulation. Fiberglass is made up of very fine pieces of glass fibers. It is found in two forms: blanket and loose fill.
  • Mineral wood insulation: Mineral Wood comes in two different options: rock wool and slag wool. Both are man made materials and contain about 75% recycled matter.
  • Natural fiber insulation: Natural fiber insulation includes cotton, sheeps wool, straw and hemp.

This list includes the most widely used insulation types today, but certainly doesn’t include every single insulation type ever used. There are a number of types of insulation that are no longer considered safe and are not utilized by reputable installers. You can view a more inclusive list here.

How Do You Know If Your Insulation Was Installed Correctly?

This is an important point, because even if all insulation is created equal (a separate discussion), that doesn’t necessarily mean that all insulation is equally well installed – which, in this case, may be just as important. Insulation only works when it’s installed to specifications, and when it’s in good shape. So even if there is insulation in your walls, even if you’ve seen it or paid for it or been told by your real estate agent that it’s there, it may be sleeping on the job.

The best way to assess the quality of otherwise “invisible” insulation is a home energy audit from a qualified home energy auditor with an infrared scanner, which will reveal where there are problems with your insulation.

Another reason why a home energy audit is really a problem-solving exercise. After you have it done, you’ll know where the issues are. Without it, your home might just remain an unsolved mystery… The Case of the Cold House and the Disappearing Dollars.

Installation Services Offered By Intec

  • Attic insulation
  • Basement insulation
  • Wall insulation
  • Crawlspace insulation
  • Blown in cellulose insulation
  • Spray foam insulation
  • Air sealing

We’d be happy to talk with you about the best insulation product for your home or business, and to accomodate the needs of your project. Contact us today for a free phone consultation!

 

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.