Energy-Efficient Homes

By Katie Faulkner

 


If you’re interested in improving your home’s health, consider the importance of energy efficiency. While this can be a very complex subject that warrants research, here are a few topics worth looking into for your energy-friendly home.



 

Establish energy-friendly home habits.

Your daily practices greatly influence your energy consumption. If you’re willing to make small adjustments, they can make a noticeable difference in your energy costs. Turn off lights and appliances when not in use, close blinds and curtains during the day, and don’t leave windows open unnecessarily.

Get familiar with ENERGY STAR labels.

This is the government-backed label for energy-efficient products. Products with this label must meet specific requirements for energy conservation within their category.

Invest in a home energy monitor.

This tool can help you determine which appliances are using the most energy, so you can adjust usage accordingly.



 

Buy better bulbs.

LED bulbs can use up to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they last up to 25 times longer. While LED bulbs may be more of an investment up front, they can save you a significant amount over the long run.



 

Have a handle on your HVAC system.

On average, heating and cooling expenses constitute nearly half of a home’s energy costs.Make sure to select a unit that is the proper size for your home. Newer models will have more energy-efficient features as technology continues to improve. Other features to look for that will increase efficiency of the unit are: two-stage heating, a variable-speed blower, an electronic ignition, a heat exchanger, and a sealed combustion chamber. When shopping, look for the highest SEER and AFUE ratings available.For more information on HVAC systems, visit the TVA or tn.gov websites.



 



Use smart power strips.

You can avoid phantom loads (75% of the energy used by devices occurs while they’re turned off or on “stand-by” mode, but still plugged in) by programming power strips to turn off at certain times of day, or after a period of disuse. This can add up to an estimated savings of around $200 annually.



 



Purchase energy-efficient appliances.

Do your research and opt for the most efficient selections that fit your needs. Everything from your refrigerator to your hair dryer can be found in an energy-efficient model. Don’t forget to look for ENERGY STAR labels.

Consider the orientation of your house.

When building, once you determine the sides of the home that will receive harsh weather and direct sunlight, you can place fewer windows and doors on those exterior walls. A well-designed floor plan protects from overheating, heat loss, weather damage, broken windows, or an influx of air forced in or out through points of entry like windows and doors.



 



Choose a smart thermostat.

Like the smart power strips, these thermostats can be programmed to adjust the temperature settings while you’re away for the day, while you sleep, before you wake up in the morning, and just before you arrive back home. By turning your thermostat back only seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day (a normal workday), you can save as much as 10% on your energy bill, or around $180 annually.

Keep your home air-tight.

Ensure your home is properly sealed at its most vulnerable points, as air leakage is a leading cause of energy waste. Inspect seals on joints, ducts, doors, window sills, and vents. A professional energy audit with a blower door test can tell you the exact locations of air leaks.

Build or upgrade with energy-efficient features.

Windows and insulation are key features in managing thermal energy retention and loss. Both have ratings that will tell you how energy-efficient they are. Windows are graded by a U-Factor, which indicates how well the window insulates, and insulation is graded in R-values – a measure of how much thermal resistance the material has.


 


Whether building a new construction or updating an older home, be sure to do your research and consult the experts. Any combination of energy-efficient features will add value to your home while supporting a comfortable, healthy environment.

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