Charting a path toward energy efficiency

Charting a path toward energy efficiency

 As energy prices rise, consumers are becoming more educated about their energy use. As a result, more people are pursuing energy efficiency and conservation in their homes. But before you make a major investment in your home’s efficiency, it’s important to lay out a plan. The conservation pyramid lays out an intelligent course that will result in your home making the best use of energy.

Begin at the base of the pyramid to discover simple and inexpensive ways to become more efficient. As you move up the pyramid you’ll gradually develop a home that operates at its highest efficiency. The more thoroughly you complete each step, the greater the reward will be with future improvements. It’s important to keep your energy efficiency efforts in perspective. Very few people will complete all the efficiency improvements within the entire pyramid, so it might help to view it as a guide for continually measuring and monitoring your home’s efficiency. Energy efficiency should be a part of the usual home improvement efforts, right alongside maintenance, siding, paint and décor.

Understanding ~Like any major undertaking, it’s important to do your research. Take a look at your last year’s energy bills and identify times of year when energy use is particularly high. Then take it a step further and buy or borrow an electric usage monitor to measure the electricity used by each of your devices. The Kill-o-watt meter is available for our member’s use at Arrowhead for no charge.

Low cost/no cost ~These are the easiest changes, but can make a big difference on your energy bills; turn down the thermostat in the winter, keep doors shut, turn unused lights off and shut off the faucet when not in use.

Lighting ~Rid your home of standard incandescent bulbs and halogen lamps. Use only compact fluorescent lamps; they use one-tenth of the electricity of standard bulbs.

Air Sealing ~Seal drafts with weather stripping, caulking or window film to keep the outside air out. Use foil tape (not duct tape) to seal your ductwork – especially areas such as joints, elbows and connections.

Appliances ~Learn how much energy your appliances are using by visiting or installing an electric usage monitor for a few days. It may be cost-effective to invest in a newer, more efficient model.

Insulation and Ventilation ~Heating and cooling are expensive; don’t let conditioned air escape. Use insulation with an R value of 45 or more in the ceiling and attic, and 20 or more in the walls.

Water heating ~The Co-op’s storage water program is a great way to conserve energy and save money with the low energy management electric rate. Contact Joe Buttweiler to learn more about energy management.

Heating and cooling ~Improve your efficiency by regularly replacing your furnace air filter, and research whether it’s time for a more efficient furnace or air conditioner – or, better yet, a geothermal or air-source heat pump.

 Windows ~Old windows dramatically reduce the efficiency of heating and cooling equipment. New windows are a major investment, but result in a more efficient home.

Renewable energy ~Whether or not to use renewable energy depends on your circumstances, including location. If you are interested in learning more about this option contact Joe Buttweiler for information.

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