Tag Archives: save money

Does Landscaping Really Improve Home Energy Efficiency?

On cold winter days, a ray of sun streaming into your house can be most welcome – a free source of heat. But what about in the summer, when those rays of sun and other, less-evident solar heat, seep into our already too-hot houses and become a costly nuisance? Well, what happens is that you lose money. But using landscaping (namely by planting trees) to shade your home can be a great way to lower energy costs.

What Is Evapotranspiration?

Evapotranspiration is the process of transferring moisture into the atmosphere. Evaporation occurs when water vapor leaves the soil or a plant’s surface. Thanks to evapotranspiration (big, but not scary word: it’s just the tree or plant releasing water vapor), air temperatures can be reduced up to 9° Farenheit in areas around trees, which creates a cool microclimate. Adeptly placed trees can cut air conditioning costs in the summer by 15% – 50%, and one well positioned tree has the daily cooling effects of five air conditioners running for 20 hours a day. And it’s easy to figure out where to place these trees: close to windows!

 

Evapotranspiration Graphic

Credit: Salinity Management Guide

Where Do I Plant My Trees to Maximize Energy Savings?

By the windows of course! Shading east- and west-facing windows with trees can reduce costs in any climate, and south-facing windows just need a little more thought. In a hot climate? Go for it, shading will keep energy costs down year round. In a cold or mixed climate? Consider planting deciduous trees so you don’t run the risk of impeding welcome solar heat in the winter.

What Is the Return on Investment?

According to the Department of Energy, the average return on investment for landscaping as a means of low energy cooling is less than 8 years with a 25% savings in energy consumption each year. And if you plant trees as saplings, it’s likely that they will begin shading your windows within a year, and reach the roof within the next 5 to 10 years (depending on tree species and climate).

But then again, since when did we need to do an ROI calculation for planting a tree?

Contact us today to request an energy audit or to discuss any other of our services: sound abatement, weatherization, roofing, siding, insulation and windows.

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.