Do you live where heat? Most of us spend our time at home in a small number of rooms: the kitchen and living room, the bathroom and bedroom. But we also have closets and crawlspaces, guest rooms and garages. Too often, we pay to heat and cool rooms we don’t live in. Zoned heating and cooling systems solve that problem.
If your home only has one thermostat you’re probably heating and cooling empty rooms and wasting money. Zoned heating and cooling systems keep a convenient single control panel but add multiple zones for your living, sleeping, working, and cooking spaces.
You can control these zones independently, adjusting the temperatures to heat and cool the rooms you live in, the way you live in them. No more wasted energy on those empty rooms, and no more wasted money on your energy bills.
Weatherization is the process of protecting your home and family from the elements. Weatherization takes place both inside and outside the home, and can also include projects in your yard. The goal of any weatherization project is to reduce convective heat transfer: the unwanted transfer of heat from one part of the home to another.
If you’ve ever caught a chill from being in a drafty room in the winter, you’ve experienced an unwanted convective heat transfer. The heat in the room is “escaping” and the air temperature is decreasing. In this case, you could put on a sweater. But a better decision is to address the room’s heat transfer with a weatherization project.
What does weatherization do?
An effective weatherization project will prevent convective heat transfer. The result should be a room with a stable and predictable air temperature. You and your family will notice the improvement right away, when your rooms are more comfortable in heating season and all year ’round.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy,
The benefits of weatherization begin with reducing the energy bills of recipients for a long period of time. Some measures, such as insulating walls or roofs, for example, can provide savings for the lifetime of a house—30 years or more. Other measures, such as making heating or cooling equipment more efficient, will provide savings for 10–15 years. On average, the value of the weatherization improvements is 2.2 times greater than the cost.
That’s a healthy savings for anyone!
Do it yourself weatherization projects
There are several weatherization projects that anyone can complete with a few basic tools and the right materials.
Weatherstripping is the process of sealing the gaps in window and door frames that can contribute to heat loss. Effective weatherstripping could save 10 to 15 percent on home heating energy bills, according to home improvement experts at This Old House. There are several types of weatherstripping available, so ask the pros at your local hardware or home improvement store for advice on what’s best for your home.
Air sealing with caulk is another effective DIY weatherization project. Caulk is a flexible sealant applied over joints and gaps in your home: between your shower and the floor, for example, or between the window frame and the window. When you seal these spaces you keep air from leaking outside your home, and your HVAC system doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your rooms at a comfortable temperature. All you need to get started is a caulk gun and a tube of caulk.
Window sheeting and window insulation kits are tried and true ways to air seal your windows and window frames in the winter. The idea is simple: use strong tape to secure a clear, heavy plastic sheet over an inside window frame. The combination of the plastic sheet and the tape will prevent air leakage and heat loss.
Weatherization rebate and assistance programs
Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program provides grants to states, territories, and some Indian tribes to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. These governments, in turn, contract with local governments and nonprofit agencies to provide weatherization services to those in need using the latest technologies for home energy upgrades.
The National Association of State Energy Officials State and Territory Energy Offices map has state contact information for homeowners interested in finding weatherization resources and programs in their communities.
Utility companies and co-ops often have rebates or low-interest loans available for homeowners who want to use home performance contractors for a weatherization project. Check the inserts in your billing statement, or the utility’s website, for information about available weatherization and home energy efficiency rebates and programs.
Additional weatherization resources
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit organization that advocates for energy efficiency “to achieve greater economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection” for all Americans. Their residential energy resource portal includes information on home energy efficiency, weatherization, and the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings.
We know that you can’t predict the weather, but the change of seasons is just around the corner. With fall comes cooler temperatures, rain and wind, and extreme weather like hurricanes, tornadoes, and snow and ice storms. Fortunately, you can prepare your home and family for anything the season brings by taking a few simple steps this weekend. Here are our newest fall home weatherization tips:
Fall weatherization of your home’s exterior
Got a drafty room? Over time, houses “settle” and gaps or cracks can appear between windows and doors, where materials and walls meet, or along your foundation where pipes or conduits enter the home. Check these areas of your home to prevent heat loss. If your exterior doors are weather stripped, check that the seal is tight and your strip and threshold are clean.
Moisture is your home’s enemy, especially in the winter when pipes can freeze and crack. Double check your water pipes and be sure to have your lawn sprinkler system flushed and turned off before the first frost.
If your home has rain gutters, now is the time to make sure they are clean and free of debris. You can also install a rain gutter guard in an afternoon, which will help keep leaves and debris out of your gutters.
Fall weatherization of your home’s interior
Check for air leakage around your window and door frames. If you can feel a draft, use transparent weather sealing tape to seal the gaps between the frame and wall.
If you’re looking forward to curling up in front of a fire when the weather turns cool, be sure to hire a licensed chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney, flue, and fireplace.
Examine your HVAC system. It might be time to clean your filters, or replace them. . If your system is older, hire a certified HVAC professional to check it out and tune it up. Your professional technician can also help you identify inefficient or worn out parts of your system so you can get peak heating performance throughout the fall and winter.
Take care of your home’s weatherization needs before the fall weather hits, and you’ll keep your home comfortable for your family all season long.
If you’re like us, your TV is probably on when you’re at home. In fact, the average American watches more than 5 hours of television each day. But we’re not always watching, are we? The TV is on in the background while we’re cooing meals, cleaning the house, and getting the kids ready for school.
Because we’re always thinking about home energy performance, here are three quick tips for TV energy efficiency. You can take advantage of these today and start enjoying your home entertainment without the high electricity bills.
Three quick tips for TV Energy Efficiency
Is bigger better? As televisions have become larger, it makes sense that they are consuming more power when they’re in use. But most new TVs – and nearly every other piece of electronics equipment in our homes – also draw power when they’re not in use. Standby mode is the culprit here. This is a “power saving” feature that draws just enough electrical current to let the TV jump to life at the touch of a button. But it only saves power relative to the TV being in use. According to the utility company Florida Power & Light, “a new 50-inch flat screen TV uses from $23-$54 of electricity a year, with LED TVs using the least and older plasma models using the most.” Wow!Skip the power save mode and turn the TV completely off. You can use an energy efficient power strip to manage your TV, set top box, DVD player, and home theater system. Turning everything completely off when you leave the house not only saves wear and tear on your expensive electronics, it saves money on your electricity bill.
Buying new? See stars!Energy Star is a government program that helps consumers save money by saving energy with energy efficient electronics and appliances. Here’s what they have to say about Energy Star certified televisions:
ENERGY STAR certified televisions are on average, over 25 percent more energy efficient than conventional models, saving energy in all usage modes: sleep, idle, and on. A home equipped with TVs, a Blu-Ray player, a compact audio system, and a home-theatre-in-a-box that have earned the ENERGY STAR, can save more than $200 over the life of the products.
$200 more in our pockets sounds like a great deal! Look for an Energy Star certified television the next time you are shopping for a new TV.
Knowledge saves power! Understanding your TV’s energy usage is easy, and it can help you save money on your electricity bills each month. To find out how much electricity your TV draws, look for the manufacturer’s technical specifications in your user manual, on the rear or bottom panel of the TV, or on the manufacturer’s website. You’re looking for the number of watts the TV requires. The present Energy Star specifications for televisions require that an Energy Star certified television “consume no more than one (1.0) watt while in Standby-Passive Mode” and “On Mode power requirements vary according to screen area.” Bigger TVs will consume more electricity, so a smaller number is definitely better here.
Alternatively, you can use an electricity usage meter such as a Kill A Watt (TM) to determine your TV’s exact electricity usage. Electricity usage meters simply count the watts your equipment and appliances use and display them to you on a built-in screen. This gives you an exact measurement of your electricity consumption.
With a little research and record keeping, you can understand and control the electricity your television, and all of your home entertainment system, is consuming. When you’re saving money on those bills, you can watch without worrying. Pass the popcorn!
Remember when Mom used to tell you to shut off the light when you left a room? Or when Dad told you to put on a sweater if you’re cold? It turns out they were ahead of their time! More and more home energy professionals recommend behavioral energy efficiency as an effective way to lower your home energy costs. Just like Mom and Dad. But what exactly are behavioral adjustments, and which ones are the most effective?
A “nudge” toward behavioral energy efficiency
In the past few years, we’ve heard a lot about behavioral “nudges.” These nudges are small changes in the way we work and live that have the power to help us make better decisions and improve our results. One of the most common examples is about saving money for retirement. It was presented in the book Nudge, by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein. The argument is that
many Americans are not saving enough for retirement… ‘in 2005 the personal savings rate for Americans was negative for the first time since 1932 and 1933 – the Great Depression years.’
To improve the savings rate, Thaler and Sunstein argue, we need to make a small change to the way retirement savings plans like 401(k)s and 403(b)s work. Their solution? Make retirement savings plans opt-out instead of opt-in. “Nudge” folks to save money by making the savings effortless and easy to manage, and we should all begin to save more for retirement. No more worrying about balancing our portfolios, asset allocations, rates of return, or any of the details that can overwhelm us and stop us from taking action.
Behavioral energy efficiency nudges work in the same way.
If you want to save money on your home energy expenses, the first thing you need to know is where, exactly, is your money going? The average American family spends more than $2,500 each year on home energy. But that doesn’t all go to the light bulbs burning in empty rooms, or the teenager standing in front of an open refrigerator.
Know yourself, know your home energy costs
Home heating and cooling, along with domestic hot water (DHW), account for the lion’s share of your home energy bills. That means that controlling home energy costs begins with understanding those costs. Our Heating Energy Assessment Tool uses home performance data from your utility bill to show you your exact heating, cooling, and DHW costs down to the penny. Now that you know these costs, you can nudge yourself and your family in the right direction.
Maybe a programmable thermostat is right for you, or you’d like to try replacing your 3 most frequently used incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs. Your utility company or state government might have weatherization incentives available, so that you can take advantage of professional air sealing and weather stripping work. A RESNET or BPI certified home performance contractor can work with you to complete a whole house energy audit and plan home improvement projects to maximize your savings and your comfort.
Because how you live affects how you use energy, it can be easy to start saving money today. There are tools, professionals, and incentive and rebate programs available to help you. And at the very least, we can remember Mom, and turn off the lights in an empty room.
Demand response is a new way for utility companies and co-ops to deliver power to customers. It has the potential to significantly change the way customers and utilities work together. So what exactly is demand response? Pretty much what it sounds like!
What you need to know about demand response
Demand response is a way for utility companies and co-ops to more efficiently deliver electricity to homeowners, based on how much electricity is in demand at any given time. Peak demand in the home is in the morning, when we’re all getting ready for work and school, and in the evening, when we all come home to fix dinner, do our household chores, watch TV, or have the neighbors over for a visit.
It’s common sense: when we’re at home we demand more electricity from our utility. When we’re not at home, that level of demand drops. We might only have the HVAC system on, and the usual appliances and electronics humming along in the background. Demand response helps utilities balance that peak demand in the morning and evening with the lower demand in the afternoon and late at night, when we’re out of the house or asleep.
How you can take advantage of demand response
Demand response programs may be offered by your utility company or co-op. Check out those inserts in your next utility bill! You may be eligible for real savings every month, just by using your dishwasher and laundry machines in times of lower power demand. Your utility might also offer you “time-based rates” which can be more or less expensive, per kilowatt-hour, based on the time of day and the demand on the utility’s power generation capabilities. Most time-based rates (they’re also called “peak pricing,” “variable pricing,” “real time pricing,” or similar names) follow the basic law of supply and demand. When demand is high, in the morning and evening, prices are a little bit higher. When demand is low, in the afternoons and late at night, prices will be a little bit lower.
Utilities offer demand based rates to encourage you to use your major appliances, like your dishwasher and laundry machines, at the low-demand times of the day. This can be a win-win situation. Your utility wins, because they save wear and tear on their equipment. You win because you save money on your electricity costs by using your major appliances in those lower demand times of the day.
What’s next for demand response?
According to the Department of Energy,
The electric power industry considers demand response programs as an increasingly valuable resource option whose capabilities and potential impacts are expanded by grid modernization efforts. For example, sensors can perceive peak load problems and utilize automatic switching to divert or reduce power in strategic places, removing the chance of overload and the resulting power failure. Advanced metering infrastructure expands the range of time-based rate programs that can be offered to consumers and smart customer systems such as in-home displays or home-area-networks can make it easier for consumers to changes their behavior and reduce peak period consumption from information on their power consumption and costs.
Demand response programs are created and managed by utility companies and co-ops. But homeowners, renters, and landlords who choose to participate in utility programs will find real benefits, including saving money on their electricity bills every month.
One of the most effective ways to control your home heating and cooling costs is to use a programmable thermostat to monitor your HVAC system and maintain a comfortable temperature in your rooms. According to Consumer Reports’ Top Thermostat Reviews:
Programmable thermostats can trim about $180 a year from your energy bill by automatically reducing your heating or cooling when you need it least. Some thermostats tested by Consumer Reports were easy to set and use but others were so complicated that you might end up spending more on energy, not less.
Every family lives differently in their homes, so the programmable thermostat your neighbor just installed may not be the best choice for you. Finding the correct equipment for your home and family is part of what’s called “right sizing” an HVAC system. This means just what it sounds like: designing, installing, testing, and maintaining the appropriate equipment to maximize your family’s comfort and health, and minimize your home heating and cooling energy bills.
What is a programmable thermostat?
A programmable thermostat is a sensor connected to your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system. It can turn your HVAC system on and off, in order to maintain a comfortable temperature. There are many different types of programmable thermostats, but they all work according to the same principles.
What are the benefits of a programmable thermostat?
Set it and forget it! If you have a regular thermostat in your home you might find yourself adjusting it several times a day, as you leave for work and come home, or when you go to sleep and wake up. The most basic programmable thermostats will do this for you. All you have to do is input a time of day and temperature. Your new thermostat will take care of the work.
More advanced programmable thermostats are sometimes called “learning thermostats”. Learning thermostats are basic programmable thermostats with additional sensors and software. The sensors are activated when you or your family move in and out of rooms. Software connected to the sensors then activates your HVAC system to raise or lower the room temperature to the comfortable level you programmed into the thermostat. Over time, these thermostats learn when you are home and when you are away, and program themselves to manage your HVAC system for you. Some of them are even connected to the Internet, so you can use your laptop or phone to control your home’s temperature while you’re away.
Is a programmable or learning thermostat the right choice for you?
Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are one of the best places to look for savings in your home. If your heater or air conditioner are more than 10 years old, if you think they’re running a lot, or if you can take advantage of a tax credit for energy efficient appliances, you should add HVAC system upgrades to your home improvement checklist.
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, home HVAC systems account for nearly 48% of a home’s total energy consumption. There are several parts of the system you can improve, independently or together.
You may want to consider a programmable thermostat set to adjust your home’s temperature for the winter heating season and the summer cooling season, and to adjust based on time of day. Why pay to heat or cool an empty house? Programmable thermostats are easy to install and use, and will pay for themselves with the money you save on your heating and cooling bills.
One of the most cost-effective upgrades to an HVAC system is air sealing. If your home is drafty it’s a good candidate for air sealing. A trained and certified contractor can find the cracks and gaps where air is leaking in or out, and seal them with caulk and weatherstripping. This will make you and your family more comfortable, and reduce your heating and cooling energy costs.
Are HVAC system upgrades the right choice for you?
Understanding home heating energy performance just got a whole lot easier. The new Heating Energy Assessment Tool (HEAT) from AREVS is a RESNET Approved, easy to use web-based application that tells home energy professionals, homeowners, and renters whether or not a home is in need of energy retrofits or upgrades. Using patented algorithms that are normalized for house size and geographical location, and information from its utility bill, HEAT provides a heating energy audit for a home in under 5 minutes. A simple A+ through F grade range gives instant understanding of home heating performance.
Advantages for Professionals:
• A “first line” assessment tool to determine if a home needs further envelope assessment.
• Can be used for performance-based quality assurance verification for homes that have undergone weatherization upgrades.
• Eliminates need for on-site inspections.
• Offers opportunity for en masse initial ratings.
• Pre-qualified leads sent directly to your sales team.
• Use HEAT as a complement to asset-based rating programs.
Advantages for Homeowners:
• Economical and easy to use.
• Information from a single energy bill results in a custom HEAT Assessment in less than 5 minutes.
• Determine energy consumption and costs for heating, air conditioning and hot water.
• Provides an accurate assessment of whether a home is in need of energy retrofits or upgrades.
• Provides an accurate assessment of whether a home is in need of a further envelope assessment from a certified RESNET professional.
• Verify energy savings achieved through weatherization and energy upgrades.
• Know a home’s PITI+E payment: Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance, and Energy – the true cost of home ownership.
Introducing HEAT: Heating Energy Assessment Tool, Powered by AREVS
For Immediate Release
May 29, 2019. Queensbury, NY –
AREVS: American Residential Energy Verification System is proud to announce its newest product, the Heating Energy Assessment Tool (HEAT). HEAT is a web-based software application that yields extremely accurate home heating and cooling energy efficiency ratings, and projects annual heating, cooling, and domestic hot water costs. HEAT can be used with data from one heating season utility bill. No physical inspection of the premises or tools are necessary. This allows both off site and en masse ratings of the national and international housing stock.
HEAT is available for personal and professional use immediately. Please visit https://www.arevs.us for a free AREVS rating.
HEAT is the ideal first line heating energy assessment app for homeowners and professionals who need to know exact heating and cooling energy consumption and costs,” said Dean Durst, Co-founder and CEO of AREVS. “No other tool is as accurate or easy to use. All you need is one utility bill and 5 minutes to find out how a home is performing, if it needs an asset based energy audit, weatherization upgrades, or retrofit work to improve energy efficiency and lower the home’s operational costs. Understanding a home’s heating energy efficiency just got a whole lot easier!
Rising energy costs and a fast paced residential housing market mean that renters, sellers, buyers, brokers, and lenders need to accurately value home energy consumption costs and efficiency. HEAT is the only performance based home energy efficiency rating software available in the US.
AREVS develops software and data sets for the Home Performance, Real Estate, and Energy industries. Founded in September 2012 by Dean Durst and Jeff Hiscox, AREVS launched the Home Energy Performance Calculator in February 2013. The Calculator is available for professionals as a stand-alone web application. HEAT launched in July 2014 and is available for all customers as a stand-alone web application, a white label web application, or a website plugin.