About Residential Energy Efficiency
A variety of easy ways to save energy at home have been well documented and proven to work. (Scroll down for easy energy saving tips). Many of these methods cost nothing or are very inexpensive. Deep energy savings, however, often require more complex improvements to the building. For example, air leakage is commonly believed to come from windows and doors, but building scientist have shown that leakage occurs more strongly through penetrations and gaps in the foundation and attic of a home. (See image below). Sealing these holes might require the use of specialized equipment, such as a blower door, to accomplish the task. Other improvements may come with increased insulation levels, upgrading to high efficiency boilers and furnaces, and switching to Energy-Star rated appliances and efficient lightbulbs. Energy auditors or professional contractors with energy efficiency credentials are usually the best resource for making these kind of specialized improvements.
The image below shows the pathways that air follows when escaping from the home (warm air) or entering the home (cool air).
Easy Ways to Save Energy at 10,000 Feet.
The climate in Lake County, Colorado is undeniably harsh. What does this mean for energy efficiency? For one thing, our heating costs are among the highest in the country. Even though we pay the same here for natural gas as in Denver, we use a lot more of it to stay warm. Gusty winds, long winters, deep freezes, and an older housing stock combine in Lake County to create unusually high energy bills. There are some easy ways to save a great deal of energy in this climate, however. The following list is not comprehensive but contains some highly effective tips that work well for Lake County residents.
Top Ten Ways to Save Energy at Home
- Get educated (see homeowner resources below).
- Get a home energy audit from Cloud City Conservation Center (you already knew that).
- Weatherize your home – add insulation, air seal, upgrade your heating system.
- Use hot water efficiently – insulate your hot water heater, wrap your pipes with foam insulation, install low-flow shower and faucet aerators, run your washing machine on “cold,” turn down the temperature of your hot water to 120-125 F.
- Install efficient lighting. LED (light-emitting diodes) technology is cheaper and better than ever, and don’t contain mercury. While efficient, CFL bulbs have small amounts of mercury and must be recycled. We like LED bulbs from CREE or GE.
- Install a programmable thermostat or use the one you have more effectively. Reducing the duration your furnace or boiler has to work during the day can save hundreds of dollars per year in energy. We recommend reducing the temperature to 60 degrees when not at home and as cool as you can tolerate when sleeping.
- Have your boiler or furnace tuned yearly and change your furnace filter when it becomes too dirty (about every three months). Some might argue that the cost savings don’t cover the cost of maintenance. However, a heating professional will spot trouble before it occurs, keep your equipment operating at it’s peak efficiency, and may even troubleshoot annoying issues like clanging pipes or whistling furnaces.
- Track your utility bills. XCEL energy makes it easy to go online and monitor your energy use. Understanding your baseline use (how much you use when not heating) can be done by averaging your three lowest months. Big increases that aren’t due to cold weather indicate something has changed.
- Check out a Kill-A-Watt from the Leadville Public Library. This device can help you find energy hogs by measuring the wattage coming through the plug. Unplug or replace the worst offenders.
- Make saving energy fun. Using less doesn’t have to be a chore. Look for ways to save energy and use the extra money saved to treat yourself. Teach your kids good habits so they can learn to use energy wisely too. And stay tuned to the Cloud City Conservation Center for more ongoing programs, information, and energy saving advice.
Books and Resources
The Home Owners Handbook to Energy Efficiency: A great resource for the committed energy geek.
<a href=”https://www.xcelenergy.com/Save_Money_&_Energy/Residential/Energy_Saving_Tips/Save_Energy_&_Money”> XCEL Energy </a>