Going green and having a zero energy home means that you create as much energy as you use. For those who want to go as green as possible, zero energy is the end goal. Most residences and commercial businesses who have HVAC systems may not have the resources to meet zero energy, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take today. Here, we offer some low or no-cost changes to start with that will lead you towards thinking green and finding energy savings.
No-Cost or Low-Cost Green Energy Tips
Here are some green energy tips that will make your home more efficient without sacrificing your wallet or quality of life.
- Turn off appliances. This is the easiest of green energy tips. When you are not in a room, turn off the lights. When you are done using the computer, shut it down. If you are not watching TV, turn it off.
- Install low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators. The low-flow shower heads aerate water so you don’t need as much water to get enough pressure for showering. The faucet aerator does the same thing. You don’t need to replace the entire faucet, just update the aerator head.
- Change out your light bulb. As your old incandescent bulbs goes out, replace them. You can select new design incandescent bulbs that use 25 percent less energy. A better option is the compact fluorescent bulb (CFL), which uses 70 to 80 percent less energy and has a life span of many years. The LED bulb saves even more energy than the CFL and has a longer lifespan.
- Seal air leaks. Some older homes can experience up to 40 percent heat loss during winter due to air leaks. Check your windows and doors for drafts. Use caulk or weatherstripping to close these leaks. Check the exterior of your home for openings like pipes and wires. Make sure these openings have sufficient insulation.
- Upgrade your insulation to US Department of Energy recommended levels. Most air leaks come in the basement and attic. If you don’t have insulation in those spaces, your energy use will be much higher. Adding insulation in those areas will make the home more efficient and keep costs down. The DOE recommends R-60 insulation in attics, R-30 in the floor, and up to R-21 in the walls for Northern Illinois.
- Choose Energy Star approved appliances. As your older appliances hit their end of life, replace them with appliances that are energy efficient. This transition can take a number of years and will be needed anyway as old appliances break down.
By putting these green energy tips in place, you will start to see your energy use going down.
Higher-Cost Projects for the Future
If you want to take the next step and start making major strides towards a zero-energy home, you can tackle one of these higher-end projects. As a bonus, you should also see improved property values once the project is complete.
- Replace Your Old Air Conditioner. When your air conditioning system is on its last legs, start looking for an energy efficient model, ideally with the Energy Star label. For central air, look for a system that has a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 13 or more. For window units, look for a SEER of 10 or more.
- Replace Your Old Furnace. Old furnaces generally have Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) between 55 and 70. That means that between 55 and 70 percent of that fuel is actually converted to useful heat. The rest is lost in the combustion process. Newer furnaces have ratings of 90 and above.
- Replace Single-Pane Windows. A single-pane window has an R-1 value. The only thing lower is an open door. A house with single-pane windows can have heating bills 25 percent higher than a comparable house with double-pane windows. Select a low-U value, low-E double-pane window to replace your old ones.
- Add a Source Of Renewable Energy. The other part of the zero energy equation is the ability to produce power. You can add solar panels to your home. You can set-up a wind turbine. You can tap into geothermal sources for heating and cooling.
These green energy tips will start moving your home towards that zero energy goal. You can start out with a no-cost and go as far as your desire and budget allow. If you want to learn more about our energy efficient systems, call us at Conditioned Air Mechanical HVAC Services at (281) 561-6911. We have been serving our Stratford, Bellaire and Sugarland neighbors proudly since 1934.