Top 10 Ideas to Stop Wasting Energy and Money

Now that the dust has settled from the New Years and Super Bowl, spring is starting to take hold.  Therefore, it’s time to start thinking about your home and what you can do to stop wasting energy and money through the right energy efficient home upgrades (not to mention making your home more comfortable and healthier – and contributing to a healthier environment).  In the spirit of David Letterman, the following is a list of the Top 10 ways to save energy and make your home more energy efficient: Top 10 List

  1. Cover up the cracks. By examining your home and finding areas in which heat and air escape, then plugging them with either insulation or sealant, you can save a considerable amount of energy.  $400+ in yearly savings from this one.
  2. Use energy efficient light bulbs! Switch from your current light bulb to a CFL or LED model. In doing so, you will put $140 per year or more in your pocket.  Yes, they cost a bit more – but they’ll save you some serious money in the long run.
  3. Use a “smart” power strip to automatically shut off devices when you aren’t using them.  Even when you have turned off a computer monitor or TV, the device uses power – even in standby mode. Amazingly this will keep you from wasting $30+ per year.
  4. Buy ENERGY STAR appliances – ENERGY STAR appliances are certified by the government and rated as more efficient than their older counterparts. Look for the logo on any new appliances (note, ENERGY STAR does not rate ovens and ranges).  This could save you a few hundred dollars or more each year.
  5. Use cold water for washing clothes. Is hot or warm water really necessary to clean your clothes?  The answer, no – not usually.  Unless you’re fighting some tough stains like oil stains, consider switching from hot water to warm or cold.  The majority of the energy used by our clothes washer is spent heating the water.  So switch to cold and save.
  6. Get a programmable thermostat. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, get one now!!!  Why pay for the energy to heat or cool your home when you’re not there???  A programmable thermostat is one of the simplest methods of energy reduction. Raise the temperature a few degrees in the summer, and lower it a few degrees in the winter.  This simple action will save you a couple hundred dollars or more each year.
  7. Add more insulation to your home. By adding more insulation, you can keep the heat in and the cold out. If your home was built before about 1980, you should have an expert evaluate it to determine if you have the proper level of insulation.  Doing this could save you $1,500 each year.
  8. Purchase a low-flow showerhead.  ”Low-flow” showerheads help you save hot water and the energy used to heat it.  Yes, you may not feel like you are showering under Niagara Falls, but you will put another $140 in your pocket each year.
  9. Hang dry your laundry.  At first this may sounds like a pain, but hang drying clothes when weather permits saves $150 per year and helps your clothes last longer, a double benefit for the planet.
  10. Get a personalized home energy savings plan.  Take Energy Results’ Virtual Home Energy Audit to learn more about the upgrades mentioned above and explore other savings opportunities for your home.  And this one is free!!!

Spring is just around the corner, use these months of more mild climate to get your home ready for the summer and winter months.  The right efficiency upgrades can help take a bite out of your high energy bills.  So get started today – and if you need help, contact us at Energy Results.  We can show you how to save energy by selecting the right energy efficient products or scheduling an energy audit or home efficiency services with one of our experienced professionals.

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EnergyResults.com – The Next Generation

How efficient is your home? How does your energy and water usage compare to similar homes in your area? How do you make your home more efficient, finding the right products and services? How do you get credit for your efficiency? Yes, we understand that with everything going on in your life, your home’s efficiency is not always “top of mind.” And yes, we understand that the topic itself can be a bit boring. We’ve listened, we understand and we’re here to help.

Enter the new, fully redesigned Energy Results’ web platform, available starting today on https://www.EnergyResults.com. There are more improvements and new features than what can be covered in one blog post, so we’ll highlight certain features in the coming days. But think of us as a “1-stop destination” to help you understand your home’s efficiency, identify and prioritize the right improvements and help you quickly and easily take action through the right products and services. The highlights include:

IMPROVED RECOMMENDATION ENGINE
You can visit EnergyResults.com to take the mystery out of your electric, gas and water bills, evaluate the benefits of solar for your home, understand the impact of certain upgrades like replacing an old refrigerator with a new ENERGYSTAR model – or you can use our proprietary home assessment tools to create a complete home energy profile and savings plan. What Expedia does for all your travel needs, Energy Results does for home energy. And our assessment tools and home energy recommendation engine is ALWAYS free.

YOUR HOME ENERGY COMMAND CENTER
As you engage with our platform, will create a “Home Efficiency Hub” that you can use to manage all your home efficiency activities. Research and prioritize upgrades, rate your home’s efficiency level, compare your usage to neighbors, take action, mark upgrades as complete, track savings and share your success. As you update your home profile and chart your progress, our algorithms (a fancy word for a bunch of math we use to create a virtual model of your home) will continue to refine your personalized savings recommendations. We’ll even send you emails that chart your progress, measure your usage and offer personalized savings reminders.

EVEN EASIER TO TAKE ACTION
We understand that information is great, but it’s only part of the solution – it has to be quick and easy to take action. We get it! We’ve further improved our “action engine.” We’ll continue to help you identify the right efficiency products, but now we’ll help you identify the best price for thousands of products through our retail partners such as Best Buy and Home Depot. In terms of service-based upgrades, you can simply point-click to order services from our top-rated, pre-screened group of experts. In our effort to offer not only recommendations for all home energy solutions, but also allow you take action on these recommendations, we are rolling out Solar installation and Energy Rate Plan offerings in the coming weeks.

GET CREDIT – TRACK, SHARE, VERIFY
We’ve added a whole bunch of cool new features to help homeowners track completed upgrades and savings, measure improvement in their home efficiency rating and continually compare to peers – and to share their progress. We also want to “shine a bright light” on your home to be sure you get credit for your efficiency. We now give you the ability to create a “Public Home Energy Profile” that allows you to release your utility usage data. In the coming weeks, we’ll release an API that makes this info available to select partners who provide home information to prospective buyers.

We’ll stop there and explore certain features in further detail in the coming days. But as you might be able to tell, we’re very excited about this redesign. Thanks to everyone on our extended team who helped in this redesign process. It was no small undertaking but we believe it has created the most innovative and useful platform for home energy solutions…no small achievement!

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Chicago’s Top Green Entrepreneurs

Hey, look at those guys! Thanks to NBC-Chicago for naming Energy Results founders Jason Blumberg and James Carlin to their list of Top Green Entrepreneurs. To all those who have sent messages of congratulations and donations for Jason and James to buy neckties, our co-founders respectfully say “thank you” and “we will go tie shopping very soon.”

Check out the NBC-Chicago post here > https://energyresults.com/about-us/in-the-news.

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What do CFLs and Charlie Sheen Have in Common?

Really only one word: controversy. When you mention CFLs nowadays, you’re likely to get some strong feelings on the subject and it ranges from adoration to contempt – similar to the feelings Charlie “Winning” Sheen stirs up in people. So where does this controversy come from? Well, it seems CFLs have become somewhat of a poster child in the fight over government’s role in the “greening” of our economy. With all that attention comes the inherent spread of misinformation by both the admirers and the haters.

When you look at the dialogue surrounding CFLs, there are a few different takes on things. On the one hand, you have people claiming the government cannot tell homeowners what light bulbs to use in their homes, especially when these bulbs contain mercury and allegedly pose a health and safety risk. On the other hand, people argue CFLs reduce electricity consumption lowering green house gas emissions, which the government has the authority and responsibility to control. Beyond the politics of it all, there are other people who simply have had a bad experience with CFLs, whether due to the shape, color, light quality or lifetime of the bulb.

With all the banter on the subject, it can be difficult to figure out what’s accurate. Rather than debate the politics, we think a much better solution is to provide people with good information and let them make a choice that fits their needs. We’ll leave the controversy of CFLs and coverage of Sheen’s latest mishaps to the 24hr news teams and dive into what’s important for you to know when considering CFLs in your home. Here are some basics that highlight the pros and the cons:

1. How much money do I save using CFLs? For a light that is on an average of 2 hrs a day, you’ll save $6 per bulb every year. Multiply that by the average number of lights in a home and you’re looking at saving $140 a year.

2. I started using CFLs and I didn’t save that much, how come? CFLs save you the most money for lights that are on a lot. Now that doesn’t mean you should stop turning off your lights, although your kids would love to have that pressure off their shoulders. What it does mean, is that you’ll save the most money by replacing bulbs that are on for more than an hour a day.

3. How long does a CFL bulb last? CFLs last up to 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. This means you’ll buy 1 CFL for $3 instead of buying 10 incandescent bulbs for $6.50.

4. Why do my CFLs burn out after 3 months then? Switching CFLs on and off repeatedly decreases their lifespan (also see #10 below). So, for the light in the closet that you turn on 10 times a day but it only stays on for 15 seconds, using a CFL doesn’t make sense.

5. Do CFLs contain mercury? Yes, CFLs contain mercury. The next question should be, how much? About a 1/4 as much as old thermometers. You know the non-digital ones you would stick under your tongue 10 times before you got a reading that was in the range of possible. So, when you hear people say CFLs pose a health and safety risk, they’re overstating things a bit.

6. Once my CFL burns out, what do I do with it? Because CFLs contain a small amount of mercury (see #5 above), you can’t just toss them in the garbage. You can check with your local dump or recycling center to get more info about recycling in your area. If that seems like a hassle, you can also buy ready to ship boxes to recycle your used bulbs. All you do is fill up the box with your old CFLs and ship it off to be recycled.

7. Why does my CFL make my skin look like it hasn’t seen sunlight in years? Most likely it’s an older CFL or see #10 below. CFLs now come in multiple colors/shades just like incandescent bulbs and across all the different wattages, so you should be able to find a CFL that works for you.

8. How do I figure out which CFL is right for me? For most situations all you need is a 13-15W spiral CFL to replace your 60W incandescent. For bulbs with different wattages, check out this table to find the correct replacement. CFLs come in all the various shapes you need for your different fixtures (globe, reflectors, A-shape, candle, etc) and dimmable and 3-way bulbs are also available.

9. Why does it take so long to turn on? Spiral CFLs on the market today rarely have this issue, but some globe and reflector shaped bulbs can take 10-15 seconds to reach maximum light output.

10. I still don’t like CFLs, what do I do? Some CFLs are just made poorly. The brand you buy has an impact on the color of the light, how quickly it turns on, how long it lasts and whether or not you buy another one. If you’re unhappy with your current CFLs, try a different brand.

The next time you hear spirited conversation about CFLs, the list above should help you sort through the facts and make an informed decision. While CFLs may not be the best fit for all situations, the reality is CFLs will save you energy and money. The technology for CFLs is also constantly improving to meet consumers’ demands and when compared to the technology of incandescent bulbs, the benefits are difficult to ignore. Think of it this way: only 10% of the energy used by an incandescent light bulb actually serves the purpose of a light bulb, to produce light. The other 90% of the energy is released as heat. In a world of iPads, smart phones and cars that drive themselves, calling the incandescent light bulb technology is like calling Charlie Sheen one of the great philosophers of our time. It just doesn’t make sense. When it comes down to it, the conversation about switching from incandescent bulbs to CFLs should not be dominated by controversy, but by the acknowledgement that CFLs offer a great step forward for homeowners both financially and environmentally.

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Electricity Generation in the US: Top 5 Cleanest & Dirtiest States

When you were a kid, did you ever have to put a nickel into a jar every time you left a light on? It’s a great childhood lesson about the economic concept of externalities, the idea that an individual’s actions can have associated costs & benefits that they do not incur and are passed off to others. As a kid, leaving a light on has zero costs associated with it and the benefit of saving some time and effort. As a parent, however, those “always on” lights have very real costs when the electricity bill rolls around. A kid leaving on a light is a simple example of a negative externality or an external cost. The kid consumes the electricity, but does not have to worry about the associated costs. The money jar acts as a means to balance the cost vs. benefit analysis, to make them reconsider turning off the light in order to save them a nickel and, in the end, keep the parents’ electricity bill down.

When thinking about external costs associated with electricity use, consider this the next time you turn on your lights: electricity generation in the US contributes to over 40% of all CO2 emissions, which is the leading cause of global warming. Coal burning power plants specifically produce more harmful air pollutants than any other industrial pollution source, including toxic metals like arsenic, lead & mercury and known carcinogens like formaldehyde, benzene and radioisotopes. We all receive our monthly electricity bill so we’re well aware of the monetary costs of using energy at home, but what about these environmental and health costs? The reality is, we largely don’t consider these costs on a daily basis because they are an external cost. They are less tangible and longer term consequences that are far removed from our daily routine and our pocketbooks.

So what kind of impact do we have when we turn on a light?  Well, it turns out it depends on where we live. In a state that generates over 94% of its power by burning coal, using a kWh of electricity will emit 361 times more CO2 when compared to a state that relies primarily on nuclear and hydropower. Here’s a look at the Top 5 Cleanest and the Top 5 Dirtiest States when comparing CO2 emissions from electricity generation.

Top 5 Cleanest States

1. Vermont

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Nuclear 71%, Hydropower 21%, Biomass 7%

Emissions Rate: 0.003 kg CO2/kWh

2. Idaho

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Hydropower 79%, Natural Gas 14%, Biomass 5%

Emissions Rate: 0.065 kg CO2/kWh

3. Washington

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Hydropower 71%, Coal 10%, Nuclear 8%

Emissions Rate: 0.163 kg CO2/kWh

4. Oregon

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Hydropower 62%, Natural Gas 27%, Coal 7%

Emissions Rate: 0.206 kg CO2/kWh

5. California

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Natural Gas 47%, Hydropower 20%, Nuclear 18%

Emissions Rate: 0.317 kg CO2/kWh

Top 5 Dirtiest States

1. North Dakota

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Coal 95%, Hydropower 4%, Natural Gas < 1%

Emissions Rate: 1.082 kg CO2/kWh

2. Wyoming

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Coal 95%, Hydropower 2%, Wind 2%

Emissions Rate: 1.033 kg CO2/kWh

3. Utah

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Coal 94%, Natural Gas 3%, Hydropower 2%

Emissions Rate: 0.961 kg CO2/kWh

4. Indiana

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Coal 94%, Natural Gas 3%, Other 2%

Emissions Rate: 0.951 kg CO2/kWh

5. Kentucky

Top 3 Electricity Sources: Coal 91%, Oil 4%, Hydropower 3%

Emissions Rate: 0.930 kg CO2/kWh

Now there may not be a giant jar that we can all put our money into to help offset the environmental and health costs that come with using electricity. Being knowledgeable about where our electricity comes from, however, is a good place to start. Over 35% of the electricity produced in the US is used to power our homes. As consumers, we can have an impact by demanding that our power comes from cleaner energy sources. You’ll notice though, that even with renewable energy projects popping up all over the country, wind and solar are not found in the Top 3 Electricity Sources for any of the Top 5 Cleanest States. What that means is that in the long run, there is tremendous room for growth for renewable energy and that in the short term, as consumers we can have an impact simply by using less. Energy efficiency at home is the most direct way we can help minimize the external costs of using electricity and it can be as simple as a cookie jar full of nickels.

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Learn How to Save Energy with Timely Home Upgrades

Announcing Seasonal Personalized Savings Emails

Energy Saving Email

The official start to Winter on December 22nd is fast approaching, but most of us don’t need the “Famer’s Almanac” to tell us that things are getting colder and it’s time to get ourselves ready for the winter months.  For many, that means taking the gloves, hats and coats out of storage, and putting away the clothes, toys and furniture from the warmer months.
While these preparations are important, what about taking steps to get the mechanics of our homes ready for the season’s upcoming weather?  Often these home projects are simple and low cost, but they can have a big impact on the overall comfort of our home and limit the seasonal spikes in our energy bills.

This sounds great in concept doesn’t it?  But our lives are busy and we often forget about simple home upgrades like replacing furnace filters or caulking leaks around windows.  When added together, these simple upgrades can have a substantial impact on your energy costs.  Wouldn’t it be nice if someone sent you an easy-to-use reminder of tasks to perform each season to make your home more efficient and cut your energy costs?  If you said yes, we have some good news.

Energy Results just announced the introduction of their Seasonal Personalized Savings Emails. Homeowners who create a Home Efficiency Profile and answer Energy Results’ home efficiency survey will receive a personalized savings reminder with energy saving tips and discounts.

The savings reminders will be sent every 3 months and will provide advice targeted at the upcoming season: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. These seasonal home efficiency upgrades will help homeowners save energy and money, along with enjoying a more comfortable home.

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Energy Results Helps Best Buy Launches Innovative Home Energy Concept

Summary: Energy Results helped Best Buy launch its Home Energy Retail Concept online and in-stores (in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco).  Energy Results was selected to a) create an educational platform that includes a proprietary online home energy self-assessment, which provides homeowners with a personalized home efficiency plan and b) assist with the execution (product sales and service sales).  The home efficiency plan helps customers evaluate recommended upgrades based on savings potential, environmental benefits and other benefits like improved home comfort and air quality.  The platform then integrates product sales and service sales to make capturing savings easy.  

________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Full Story: As a homeowner, energy efficiency and smart home technologies probably sound great, but there’s so much information out there.  How do you determine what upgrades are right for you?  And who do you call to help you take action to make these home upgrades a reality?  If an answer to these questions doesn’t quickly come to mind, you’re not alone.  The good news is that an answer is coming to your neighborhood very soon.

Best Buy Co., Inc. today announced its Home Energy retail concept aimed at helping homeowners achieve smarter, more energy efficient homes.  Best Buy will offer customers a complete set of free educational tools that will help them to identify and evaluate energy efficient and then make it easy to perform smart home upgrades (buy products and services). 

Best Buy’s new Home Energy retail concept will not only provide customer education, but will also help them to take action.  Best Buy customers will be able to browse and purchase a wide range of recommended energy efficient products, including ENERGY STAR appliances, efficient lighting and energy measurement and management devices.  Best Buy will also offer in-home professional services, including professional home energy audits, beginning in select markets and then expanding throughout the U.S.  Have you been waiting for the “Geek Squad of Home Energy Solutions?”  Well, the wait is over!

Energy Results, a Chicago-based company was selected by Best Buy to a) create the educational platform that includes a proprietary online home energy self-assessment, which provides homeowners with a personalized home efficiency plan and b) assist with the execution (product and service sales).  The home efficiency plan helps customers evaluate recommended upgrades based on savings potential, environmental benefits and other benefits like improved home comfort and air quality.

The new Home Energy concept is now available online via BestBuy.com and at physical departments within three U.S. Best Buy stores located in Chicago, Houston and San Carlos (CA).  With the in-store experience, homeowners will have the ability to evaluate energy efficient and smart home upgrades with assistance from knowledgeable Best Buy professionals. The “Blue Shirts” will help guide customers through questions about products, solutions and featured services, including energy assessments, home energy surveys and audits, product installation, and local energy incentives and rebates

Best Buy’s new Home Energy retail concept will not only make smart home improvements easier to understand, but it will also help customers to take action to capture savings – bridging the critical gap between education and action.  Visit the Online Learning Center or one of the three in-store concept departments to start your journey to a more efficient, smarter home.

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Watch Where You Step: Understanding Your Carbon Footprint

While making visits to national parks or forest preserves, you’ll often be told to “leave nothing but footprints.”  This is always a good policy in these types of situations.  However, we often forget, or simply do not know that wherever we go, we actually leave two sets of footprints.  Your physical footprint is, for the most part, a harmless indentation left behind wherever you step.  Your other footprint is what is known as your carbon footprint, essentially the level of greenhouse gases your lifestyle and activity emit into the environment.  We’d like to help you understand not only what your carbon footprint is, but also how to measure it and identify some simple ways to reduce it and to save energy.

Your Carbon Footprint: What Is It?

Carbon Footprint

By definition, a carbon footprint is “the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product, or person.”  This means that if you live a lifestyle that requires the use of a greater amount of energy and fossil fuels that form greenhouse gases through combustion, the larger your impact on the environment and your carbon footprint will be greater.  Often people consider their carbon footprint to be the result of their immediate use of fossil fuels and energy usage, like cooking with natural gas or using petroleum to run their automobile.  However, your carbon footprint consists of many activities that can be far less obvious.  This may include the fossil fuels used to transport the food that you buy at your local grocery store, or the energy used to dispose of the waste produced in your household.  All this comes into account when trying to make an accurate estimate of what impact is left behind by your daily activities and choices.

How to Measure Your Carbon Footprint

Perhaps not surprisingly, the U.S. has one of the largest carbon footprints in the world, ranking #2 in total emissions (other countries near the top include China #1, India #3, Russia #4 and Japan #5) but #1 in emissions per capita.  Since this much larger footprint is made up of many much smaller individual footprints, it is important to understand your contribution and responsibility to the greater whole.  Individually, the average American produces 9.44 tons of carbon dioxide on their own each year! Did this surprise you? The link below will help you to calculate the size of the carbon footprint of your household: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html.

How to Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions Taking small steps to reduce your carbon footprint and saving energy is actually fairly simple.  Here is a list of some easy things that you can do to live a more environmentally healthy lifestyle.

- Limit Consumption of Bottled Water – The production, consumption and disposal of bottled water leaves a rather significant carbon footprint.  It requires the combustion of fossil fuels to make the bottle, transport it, and dispose of it if it’s not recycled.  In-house filtration systems can reduce your impact and cost for water.

- Unplug Appliances That Are Not Frequently In Use – Most of these items have a standby mode that wastes energy even when they’re not in use. Unplugging is the best way to ensure that unnecessary energy is not lost.  With a powerstrip, you can even switch off more than one appliance at once.

- Use Cold Water – No, I’m not suggesting that you start taking cold showers.  Using colder water to wash clothes that do not require a hot water wash is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint.  While washers already require a lot of energy to run, it takes even more to heat the water.  Using cold water whenever possible can make a big difference and will increase your energy savings.

- Recycle And Reuse – Recycling uses a lot less energy since it is reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that would come out of creating a completely new product.

- Upgrade The Energy Efficiency Of Your Home – New energy efficient light bulbs, filters, and appliances could have a massive impact in reducing your carbon footprint.  Less energy used means less greenhouse gas emissions.  Even just maintaining and taking care of the appliances and products you already own can ensure a smaller footprint without spending a lot of money.  You can measure the energy efficiency of your home and your potential energy savings at www.energyresults.com.

With easy steps like these, you are on your way to increasing your energy savings and reducing the size of the carbon footprint left behind.  We all have a role in trying to shrink the adverse impact we have on the environment, not only as an individual, but also as a member of a household, as a citizen of a country, and as an inhabitant of Planet Earth.

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Reaching for the Stars: What the ENERGY STAR Label Really Means

ENERGYSTAR

Let’s face it, often times we accept the benefits of a certain program, product, or initiative simply because it is a part of one of the latest trends (feel free to take your Snuggie out and wear it proudly).  Yet, when the time comes to actually explain why we made the purchase, we are left stumbling for an explanation.  With the emergence of a popular sentiment towards energy efficient products, it has become increasingly useful to understand who and what qualifies these products as legitimate cash and energy savers.  We thought it would be helpful to take a closer look at ENERGY STAR – who are they, what do they do and what are the requirements for products to get the ENERGY STAR label?  And of course, why should you care?

ENERGY STAR’s Mission:

The ENERGY STAR label has become fairly common to see while walking down the appliance aisle at your local store.  In fact, ENERGY STAR has achieved a 75% awareness level nationwide, so it is safe to say that a bell will likely ring when you hear the name ENERGY STAR.  ENERGY STAR is actually a government-backed program that was designed to help customers determine which products are most likely to save them money on their energy bills and to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and pollution through the more efficient use of energy.  In short, ENERGY STAR effectively provides a standard for energy efficient consumer products.

The Evolution of ENERGY STAR:

So how did the ENERGY STAR program get started?  In 1992, the EPA certified the first line of ENERGY STAR products, a series of computers and monitors.  The success of these initial products brought about a demand for ENERGY STAR to rate a range of other products, including home heating and cooling systems, appliances and other electronics.  With the addition of ENERGY STAR ratings for windows, light bulbs and more, the EPA has created a system that essentially ensures that you are able to surround yourselves with products that optimize the efficiency of your home!

Product Requirements:

Now what does the ENERGY STAR rating mean and who sets the requirements for the ENERGY STAR label?  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and/or the Department of Energy (DOE) sets the specifications used to determine whether or not a product is worthy of an ENERGY STAR label.  These qualifications assess whether the product will generate sufficient savings and efficiency relative to non-ENERGY STAR products, while still providing the promised features and performance demanded by customers.   The list of ENERGY STAR products and the requirements to achieve this distinction are continuously being examined and revised to maintain the necessary specifications and requirements.

Savings:

But how much will you really save with ENERGY STAR, you ask?  The relative savings for an ENERGY STAR product are impacted by a variety of variables and differ by product category.  On average, savings from ENERGY STAR products versus non-ENERGY STAR is around 25 to 30%.  That’s some real savings!  In reality, the switch to ENERGY STAR products in 2010 alone amounted to Americans not only avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to about 33 million cars, but also $18 billion in savings.  Needless to say, the ENERGY STAR label is more than just a little added decoration; it can generate real savings too.   To find out how much you can save by upgrading to an ENERGY STAR product, feel free to use Energy Results’ savings calculators (link here > http://energyresults.com/energy-101).  These upgraded savings calculators will help you to determine exactly how much ENERGY STAR can save you.

What all this means is that the EPA is actually making it easier to achieve a more energy efficient home.  A wide variety of products are now ENERGY STAR approved so that homeowners can effortlessly identify energy efficient models.   As more ENERGY STAR products are introduced and certified in the market, we would expect the ENERGY STAR certification to evolve as well, indicating the relative efficiency of the various models.  One thing is certain, empowering homeowners with accurate, easy-to-understand information about more efficient consumer products is a noble pursuit and we expect to see the ENERGY STAR certification expand in the coming years.  A few smart decisions can go a long way towards saving you energy and helping to reduce your impact on the planet!

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Home Energy Audits: What, Why & Is It Right For You?

More and more people nowadays are hearing about the benefits of getting an Energy Audit for their home. It seems the more publicity Energy Audits get though, the more difficult it becomes to figure out what an Energy Audit is, why the price ranges from Free to $800, and who’s qualified to complete one.  Let’s try to address the What and Why of Energy Audits, and help you to determine if an Energy Audit is right for you.

First, what is an Energy Audit?  Depending on who you talk to, you’ll get a wide range of answers to this seemingly simple question.  At its core, an Energy Audit is a diagnostic of your home to assess your home’s overall energy performance – effectively how your home produces, uses and loses energy.  Much like the difference between a brief check-up at your doctor’s office versus a thorough physical examination, a home Energy Audit can vary in its thoroughness.  In our view, there are some key components that should be included with any Energy Audit that we’ll discuss below.

Blower Door Test

A blower door test analyzes how well sealed and insulated a home is.  It is the most time consuming, labor intensive and, therefore, the most expensive part of an Energy Audit.  That said, without it, you’re really only making an educated guess. In a blower door test, an industrial size fan is attached to the front door and sucks air out of the home. In places that lack insulation or where there are holes in the home envelope, air from outside will be sucked into the home. Based upon the amount of air that enters the home from outside, you can accurately measure how well sealed and insulated the home is.

Infrared Imaging

Combined with the blower door test, infrared imaging is the best way to pinpoint specific gaps in your home envelope and insulation. The infrared camera displays differences in surface temperature. So as air from outside is sucked into the home during the blower door test, the camera can be used to find problem areas by showing the change in temperature.

Insulation Inspection

During an Energy Audit, the amount, quality and age of the insulation should be inspected with the primary focus being insulation in the attic and basement/crawlspace.

HVAC Inspection

Heating and cooling costs can often be eliminated by fixing simple maintenance issues associated with the furnace or central AC unit. For units that are 15 years or older, it often makes sense to replace the unit completely. The Energy Auditor should recommend any maintenance that is needed or, when necessary, recommend that the unit be replaced.

Duct Air Flow and Leakage Assessment

Ducts and vents should be inspected to find any leaks or damaged sections. The ability of your HVAC equipment to efficiently and safely heat or cool your home is directly linked to your homes’ ducts and vents. The two should always be inspected together.

During most energy audits, the efficiency of the appliances, lighting, and showerheads should also be examined. Upgrades made within these categories generate significant energy savings, although armed with the right information, most homeowners can make an informed decision on these items without an Energy Audit.

There are other inspections that can be offered with an Energy Audit, such as Indoor Air Pollution tests, which can address specific health and safety concerns. In terms of costs, these add-ons can cause the price tag to jump into the $800 range. The other end of the spectrum is free or discounted energy audits often offered by your Utility. These usually only include a brief walk-through that addresses the “low-hanging fruit” such as switching to CFL light bulbs. Very rarely do they include any examination of the home envelope, insulation, ducts or HVAC equipment. These walk-throughs are a great first step, but they should not be categorized as a complete Energy Audit. For most homes, the primary purpose of an Energy Audit should be to address the main points listed above, which should cost around $300-$400. At Energy Results, we’re currently offering a discounted rate of $199 for a complete Professional Energy Audit. If you’re interested, please contact us today (866-471-4885).

The last question to answer is who’s qualified to conduct an Energy Audit. In general, our recommendation is to make sure any auditor is either BPI and/or RESNET certified. If they have either of those certifications, the auditor should be qualified and well-trained.

An Energy Audit should be seen as a thorough health checkup for your home. It’s a minimal upfront cost to find and fix small issues that can develop into costly long term bills and home-comfort issues. Just like a health checkup, an Energy Audit should inspect all the main interacting parts and make a diagnosis based on the home as a system, much the same way a doctor views the body as an interconnected system. So get a check-up for the health of your home, it could save you money, improve the comfort of your home, and make your home more environmentally friendly.

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