While we have grown up listening & learning that we must conserve energy, it’s not until we start managing homes & expenses that we realize home energy management has a personal benefit too, besides conserving natural resources. Even appliance companies have started making energy conservation the marketing USP of their products. So if it’s the bills that help us turn sensitive to the idea of conservation, we are all for it as long as the impact is green!
To tackle this important subject, we have guest writer Gareth Whalley who is a ‘Meister’ in energy efficiency after his own personal trial & error when he bought an the old home with wife. He is treating us with a tailor-made guide: Unique and simple tips on effective energy conservation in our homes – from cutting, conserving to saving. Great way to save money and of course be a proud green UrbanMeister. Let’s hand over to Gareth now:
Never too late to start saving up!
In our date and time, owning a place to call home is enough of a big deal to make people stop considering what type of home they buy or build. When I finally bought a house I was so thrilled about the idea, I completely overlooked the costs it would further burden me with. Now it is the time to mention that the building was not what one might call “new”, “modern” or “efficient”.
After a few repairs, we started enjoying our new stage of life. But soon bills started pouring from all over, keeping us baffled and stressed. Water, heat, electricity, lawn care, maintenance and repairs, everything made us believe that our house was the proverbial “Money Pit” that would ultimately lead us to bankruptcy and divorce, just like the movie with the same name so eloquently showed.
Energy efficiency: two words that ultimately changed our house, our lives and our budget. We learned about this principle and the ways to achieve the goal of having a more eco-friendly, energy efficient home quite late, but we are glad we did eventually.
What is an Energy Efficient House?
According to the governmental definition, an energy efficient house is a building that saves on water, heating and electricity, making the house more comfortable and durable while saving your money and protecting the environment. I thought it was incredibly hard to turn an old home into an energy-efficient one, but with the right team of experts nothing is impossible. You don’t need to tear the house apart or build one from scratch: you can, however, remodel and rebuild. And this is how you can do it easily:
1. Overall Home Insulation
This will keep cold outside your house (so you will spend less money on heating) and keep your air cool inside during summer.
Add insulation to walls, ceiling, floors, attic and roof – exterior and interior one if you are able to
Use caulking or weather stripping to properly seal the windows
Change or revamp your windows: add double- or triple-paned argon gas-filled windows and switch from aluminum frames to vinyl ones to allow efficient heat transfer. Also while you do this, look for options that allow you to open windows when needed. If you remember, then in one of our articles, we explained how offices while completely sealed for energy efficiency, lead to bad indoor air quality due to poor ventilation.
Change the flooring to energy efficient materials and install radiant heat systems underneath the floor – this may cost you a bit, but you will be in full control of your heating and bills as such systems work based on smart sensors, thermostats and customizable features.
Seal all cracks in the ceilings and attic and use modern roof insulation.
2. Energy Efficient Indoor Appliances and Fixtures
We consume tons of energy while staying at home and we don’t even realize. Unlike the rule old is gold, in this case old home appliances have nothing to do with the preservation of energy, so a serious investment in modern technology will save you money on the long run & help with home energy management
Change old incandescent bulbs with fluorescent ones or LED ones. They last up to 12 times longer than regular bulbs, consume less energy to work and you can even use sensors to control their daily functioning.
Energy star certified appliances use less energy and last longer, while some (like the washing machine or the dishwasher) consume less water.
Be savvy about your appliances: test and tweak the settings so you can achieve the best washed clothes or dishes with the least amount of water and cycle time necessary.
Use smart devices: technology helps us be more efficient in our lives so it should help us save energy and money as well. There are smart sensors that keep a constant temperature in your house, turn off the lights in case you forget & leave them on, turns air conditioning on and off, heating and water heating as well. Programmable thermostats and sensors are the way to go to keep your house energy efficient and even save money with lawn irrigation.
3. Save Water
Usually, the use of water in our homes also comes with hidden energy costs. You can save water in many ways, but these are the simplest ones anybody can introduce in their daily routines. Water saving is not just good for the environment and energy, but for your budget as well:
Collect rain water if you live in a house and later use it for landscape irrigation purposes or cleaning ones (the patio, the driveway etc).
Properly insulate your hot water pipes so they don’t cool off too quickly
Change your kitchen and bathroom fixtures especially showers, to achieve low-flow – for showers, toilet bowls and sinks.
Set your water heater to a warm heat of no more than 130 F – it is more than enough for you to bathe or wash dishes and clothes.
Always check your irrigation system for leaks and cracks. Also to reduce pollution of water with chemicals.
Of course, installing solar panels and finding even more professional means of rebuilding a house, finding alternative energy sources for heat (pellets come to mind) and working with professional builders are among the best paths to follow if you want to go full green. There are also detailed energy efficiency tips for each room in the house, but if you want to have an energy efficient home with decent investments and lots of benefits, this guide is a good starting point, just as I learned on my own.
So go ahead, take small steps and start perfecting the art of a beautiful low-on-energy home! And for one last bit of inspiration we leave you with this little did you know – Supermodel Giesele Bundchen is a global ambassador for the United Nations Environment Programme. She & husband Tom Brady made their mansion around the concept of energy conservation. Recycled components, energy and water system, composting, gray-water technology for irrigation, and environmentally friendly construction materials the couple went all out to make a sustainable home. The couple installed two photovoltaic solar panels that would meet all of the property’s electricity needs.