“Shut the door! I’m not paying to air condition the whole neighborhood.”
Does that ring a bell? Every since we were kids, the cost of energy has been a threat to our family’s pocketbook. With this being one of the hottest months of the summer, we know you are bracing for that obnoxious electric bill that always accompanies this time of year.
Did you know?
Here are some basic numbers about where your electricity is being used. We looked at two different government web sites, energystar.gov and energysavers.gov, and the percentages for consumption area about:
50% Heating and Cooling
20% Appliances and electronics
15% Water Heating
Of course all of that is going to vary, based on age of equipment, amount of equipment, what type of water heater you own, etc. But either way, both sites are saying the same thing. Your heating and cooling equipment is sucking your wallet dry.
Home Energy Audit
If you get that first summer bill and think the power company has clearly made a billing mistake, it might be time to get a home energy audit. This report will help pinpoint where your house is losing energy as well as assess the efficiency of your systems.
To give you an idea of how much impact an audit can have, Clayton Bailey, owner of Green Scene Home Inspections performed an audit and discovered that the home was losing an amount of air equivalent to two doors being open to the exterior year round. When you’re running your air conditioner in the summer or the furnace in the winter, losing that much air starts to add up quickly.
Easy Things To Do
- Changing over to compact fluorescent bulbs from incandescent
- Checking the weather stripping at doors and windows
- Check the R-value of your insulation in your attic
- Setting your thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter
- Change to a programmable thermostat
- Get your HVAC equipment serviced to make sure it’s running efficiently
- Change the air filter in your HVAC unit
Big Ticket Items
- Need to replace your HVAC equipment? Check the SEER – The new minimum efficiency is a 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio). Chances are your current model doesn’t meet current requirements.
- Are you still using a top loading washer? Front loading models use less water and energy.
- How long have you had your refrigerator? Newer models are more efficient. Look for Energy Star ratings.
- Do your windows have single pane glass? Consider replacement windows with insulated glazing.
- Do you have to turn on the lights during the day? Add insulated skylights to lessen the need for artificial lighting during the day
In addition to the web sites we mentioned, energystar.gov and energysavers.gov, check with your state and with your city to see what their green initiatives are. For example, visit the City of Dallas’ Green Dallas website for information and events in the DFW area. Look at having a green report done and see what else you can do to reduce your impact on the environment and your pocket book will benefit too.
Dallas Architect Laura Davis, AIA is Vice President and Director of Marketing at HPD Architecture LLC. She and her partners offer custom design services for residential, commercial, and institutional projects in the North Texas, Dallas area. For more information please call 214.751.2300.