Contact us today: 214.923.0261 or email us: email@example.com
Contact us today: 214.923.0261 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Check the manual that came with your dishwasher; many models have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater to a lower temperature.
2. Let your dishes air dry. If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open a little so the dishes will dry faster.
3. Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a piece of paper or a dollar bill so it is half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the paper or bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment or the seal may need replacing.
4. Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
5. Move your refrigerator out from the wall and vacuum its condenser coils once a year (unless you have a no-clean condenser model). Your refrigerator will run for shorter periods with clean coils.
6. Wash your clothes in cold water using cold-water detergents whenever possible.
7. Use the cool-down cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.
8. Be sure to place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water. Placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water, even though it never reaches the faucet.
9. If you purchase a gas oven or range, look for one with an automatic, electric ignition system. An electric ignition saves gas because a pilot light is not burning continuously.
10. Use small electric pans or toaster ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster oven uses a third to half as much energy as a full-sized oven.
Contact us today! email@example.com or 214.923.0261
Thanks to several programs in the stimulus package, you could receive thousands of dollars by investing in a number of energy-conserving home improvements.
The Feds want to pay you to save energy.
There’s never been a better time to invest in energy-conserving upgrades to your house–that’s the word from the White House. And Congress is backing up the message with billions of dollars being made available to homeowners who want to bring down their energy bills.
It’s a multipronged initiative packed into different programs included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus package, which was passed in February.
Between the expanded tax credits and a $5 billion dollar injection into the Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program, homeowners stand to receive thousands of dollars if they invest in any one of a number of home-improvement projects.
But doing your homework is crucial to getting the most savings out of the investment. Here’s a rundown of how you can save, as well as a few words to the wise from home-energy experts.
Weatherization Assistance Program
State and local governments are handling billions more dollars going into the federal Weatherization Assistance Program. The program allows as much as $6,500 to be spent sealing up a house for income-eligible homeowners. The income thresholds were raised under the new legislation to 200% above the federal poverty line. That corresponds to an income of $44,100 for a family four or $29,140 for a family of two.
Upgrades from this program often start with sealing up a leaky house: weatherstripping, insulation, new windows. These are big energy savers that often pay for themselves.
For questions about your eligibility for the Weather Assistance Program, call the program hotline at 800-363-3732.
If you don’t qualify for government-issue weatherization, Washington is subsidizing energy saving through tax credits–as much as $1,500 per house, and even more in some cases. The bigger the project, the better the incentive
The federal Energy Star Web site offers a valuable handhold for understanding the sometimes complicated details of the tax-credit program. Energy Star, a collaboration between the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, evaluates the efficiency of a variety of home products, including dishwashers and insulation.
The ones that pass muster receive an Energy Star rating. For more information, look for the chart on the Energy Star website that lists which home improvements are covered under the tax credit, and be sure to see the links to qualifying products. In the meantime, here’s our summary of the main categories for savings.
This is the place to start! Along with sealing up leaks, insulation should be the first upgrade a homeowner considers. Sometimes people buy highly rated energy-efficient windows and they complain about drafts. But it’s not the window; it’s the insulation, especially if you live in an old house since insulation deteriorates over time.
Insulation requirements vary by region but must meet 2009 standards set by the International Energy Conservation Code. The insulation must have a five-year life span or two-year warranty. Insulated siding does not qualify. Labor is not included, and the tax credit is capped at $1,500.
This one is easy. Any metal or asphalt roofing product with an Energy Star rating qualifies for the tax credit. The roofing material must be expected to last five years or have a two-year warranty. The IRS will give you back 30% of what you spend on this in 2009 or 2010. The giveback is capped at $1,500 and does not include the cost of labor.
Windows and Doors
The tax credit will pay 30% of costs, minus labor, for qualified window upgrades in 2009 and 2010. The credit is capped at $1,500. But you must install the best. Only the most efficient windows, doors, and skylights on the market will qualify. Windows and doors must have a so-called U-Factor below .30 and a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC) less than .30 to meet the requirements for a tax credit. The U-factor measures the rate at which heat leaks from a window–the lower, the better. The SHGC measures how well the window blocks heat caused by sunlight.
The standard product lines of most manufacturers, even many with an Energy Star rating, don’t meet this stringent standard. But there are qualified products out there. Andersen Windows is highlighting a few dozen on its Web site.
For even more choices, the NFRC has compiled an extensive list of qualifying windows, which you can download here. You should also check the U-factor and SHGC on the NFRC label on Energy Star–qualified windows and doors you’re considering buying.
When it comes to biomass stoves, nonsolar water heaters, and eligible heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning units, the government will allow homeowners to include the cost of installation as well as the price of the products to reach the $1,500 tax credit in 2009 or 2010.
Some manufacturers of certain types of gas water heaters don’t have an eligible product on the market yet but will soon, due to Congress’ new law to drive the market toward greater energy efficiency. The purpose is to give people an incentive when they are going to buy something to buy the most efficient version of it.
Advanced technology in renewable energy takes home improvement to another level. These systems often don’t pay for themselves quickly. To create incentives for interested homeowners, the federal government is sweetening the deal. The tax credit will cover 30 percent of the cost, including installation, with no upper limit. In most cases, the window for the tax credit has been extended to 2016. Eligible systems include solar water heaters, solar panels, geothermal heat pumps, and wind energy systems.
STOP! Before you do anything, get an Energy Audit
Before getting your head in the clouds and contemplating the virtues of a wind turbine, experts caution homeowners to consider an expense the tax credit will not cover: an energy audit.
These audits, which are sometimes offered free by a local utility, provide a detailed report of the energy efficiency of a house. The auditor locates leaks, checks ductwork and insulation, measures emissions such as carbon monoxide, and checks the efficiency of the lighting system. Some states credential contractors to provide audits, which can cost between $200 and $500. That fee is sometimes reduced if the contractor is employed to implement the upgrades.
Sealing and insulating the “envelope” or “shell” of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors — is often the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. ENERGY STAR estimates that a knowledgeable homeowner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% on their total annual energy bill) by sealing and insulating.
To Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR:
If your attic is accessible and you like home improvement projects, you can Do-It-Yourself with help from our DIY Guide to Sealing and Insulating with ENERGY STAR. The Guide offers step-by-step instructions for sealing common air leaks and adding insulation to the attic.
You can also hire a contractor who will use special diagnostic tools to pinpoint and seal the hidden air leaks in your home. A Home Energy Rater can help you find contractors that offer air sealing services in your area.
Many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel — like those around windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills. Click on the house diagram to see common air leak locations that you should aim to seal.
Homeowners are often concerned about sealing their house too tightly; however, this is very unlikely in most older homes. A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality and there are specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air needed for a house. If you are concerned about how tight your home is, hire a contractor, such as a Home Energy Rater, who can use diagnostic tools to measure your home’s actual leakage. If your home is too tight, a fresh air ventilation system may be recommended.
After any home sealing project, have a heating and cooling technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. For additional information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues related to homes, such as combustion safety, visit EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Web site.
Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. There are several common types of insulation — fiberglass (in both batt and blown forms), cellulose, rigid foam board, and spray foam. Reflective insulation (or radiant barrier) is another insulating product which can help save energy in hot, sunny climates.
When correctly installed with air sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.
Insulation performance is measured by R-value — its ability to resist heat flow. Higher R-values mean more insulating power. Different R-values are recommended for walls, attics, basements and crawlspaces, depending on your area of the country. Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it. So it is very important to seal air leaks before installing insulation to ensure that you get the best performance from the insulation.
To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type). In the coldest climates, insulating up to R-49 is recommended.
In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.
Because some ducts are concealed in walls and between floors, repairing them can be difficult. However, exposed ducts in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and garages can be repaired by sealing the leaks with duct sealant (also called duct mastic). In addition, insulating ducts that run through spaces that get hot in summer or cold in winter (like attics, garages, or crawlspaces) can save significant energy.
Additionally, if you are replacing your forced-air heating and cooling equipment, make sure your contractor installs the new system according to ENERGY STAR quality installation guidelines. A quality installation will include a thorough inspection of your duct system, including proper sealing and balancing of ductwork, to help ensure that your new system delivers the most comfort and efficiency.
Many people know about the importance of saving energy, and many know about the importance of saving water. But few realize the direct connection between saving both.
The truth is vast amounts of energy are used to pump, treat, deliver and heat our nation’s water. Approximately 4 percent of the nation’s electricity consumption is used moving or treating water and wastewater. Considerable amounts of energy also go to heat water for bathing, shaving, cooking and cleaning our homes, dishes and clothes. In homes with electric water heaters, one-quarter of the households’ electricity is used to heat water. It also takes water to create energy. Vast amounts of water are used to cool the power plants that generate electricity. In fact, it takes 3,000 to 6,000 gallons of water to power a 60-watt incandescent bulb for 12 hours per day over the course of a year!
For more information: http://epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/waterenergy.htm
The Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Web site conducted a “Living Green” consumer survey in 2008 that showed half of the consumers surveyed paid more money for an energy-efficient product in the past 12 months. The survey also revealed that one in three homeowners said they would be willing to spend $5,000 or more on green improvements to increase a home’s appeal to potential buyers. Consumers reported engaging in a variety of environmentally conscious activities, including recycling (73 percent), replacing standard lights with compact fluorescent light bulbs (69 percent), conserving water (57 percent), adjusting the thermostat (51 percent) and purchasing energy-efficient appliances (30 percent).
Not only are the consumers going green, but so are new homebuilders. They are incorporating green features into new homes in response to consumer preferences for the cost-saving benefits of environmentally friendly homes. All products and construction techniques will create a more energy-efficient home with improved indoor air quality. Features include advanced framing techniques, high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, Energy Star-rated appliances and closed-cell spray-foam insulation in every wall.
Some homebuilders have implemented an energy-efficient program that introduces high-end energy-creating systems in their homes, such as: using solar energy, geothermal heating and air conditioning, and wind power. It used to be that these options were only available in high-end custom homes, but they are becoming more affordable and are being introduced to homes in a variety of communities. Many builders are also offering a credit on new homes with these energy-saving options.
Energy-efficient and Green features include, but are not limited to:
While many energy-efficient homes now have elaborate systems in place, it actually takes very little effort and cost to begin transitioning into living a ‘greener’ life. Start with changing out your light bulbs or air filters… and you will immediately begin giving back to our environment.
It’s getting to be that time of year again were colder temperatures equal higher heating bills. Please follow this link from Tree Hugger http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/10/12-ways-to-green-your-house-for-winter.php to help you cool down those heating bills.
You do not need to spend thousands of dollars to make your home more efficient in the winter. Turning down your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and buying a hot water heater blanket will cause your water heater to use less energy for heating. Less energy means less money coming out of your pocket for your heating bills. Also, setting your thermostat to a lower temperature setting, and sealing leaks around windows and doors will reduce your heating consumption during the cold months.
Now, if you do have some money laying around to spend on heating upgrades. You could always buy a more energy efficient furnace or add more insulation to your attic and walls. If you have any questions please contact Archwood Properties at 214-505-9420 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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