Energy Solutions for an Eco-Friendly House

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Month after month, it seems like the dreaded energy bill keeps rising. In the United States each year, residential homes use 22 percent of the electricity produced. The good news is that there are some measures you can take to improve your energy efficiency and lower your energy cost.

Even though some solutions may have an upfront cost, usually, that cost is recouped in just a few years through energy savings. Plus, living in an eco-friendly home is more comfortable and healthier for you and your family.

Whether you live in a single-family or multi-family home, implementing these eco-friendly energy saving solutions will help you save money.

Invest in an Energy Monitor

An energy monitor is a device, either hand-held or table-top, has three main components that show the amount of energy different items in your home consumes. The three components consist of –

  1. Screen – The screen displays the results when items are tested. Some models have apps that allow you to receive the information on a mobile device, tablet, or laptop.
  2. Sensor – The sensor unit clips to your incoming power supply and measures the amount of electricity being used.
  3. Transmitter – Transmit the information wirelessly to the hand-held or tabletop device’s screen.

Another option is the plug-and-play models. These will measure the energy used for individual electrical appliances and devices if they have a wall plug.

The home energy monitor is a great way to see if your energy-saving actions are paying off because the more you know about your home’s energy consumption, the easier it is to pinpoint problems and address them.

The basic home energy monitor prices start around $35, and for more elaborate units, you can expect to pay about $175. Most homeowners have found that the out-of-pocket cost is recouped within six months.

photovoltaic, photovoltaic system, solar system

Solar Panel System

Photovoltaics or solar panels are probably the most familiar item when the topic of eco-friendly or environmentally friendly conversations arise. And rightfully so, since the sun is the cheapest and most abundant energy source available today.

The biggest concern for installing solar panels is still – price. Even today, people think solar panels are too expensive. While solar panels are still a huge investment, the price has decreased in recent years. Plus, not only will a homeowner save money on energy bills, but there are many tax credits and incentives to help lower the initial cost. Most homeowners see a break-even point in three years — even larger savings after that year after year.

Increased Insulation

Your home’s insulation, especially if your house is older, can play a major role in wasted energy. As the insulation ages, it deteriorates if not replaced, or if your insulation is less than recommended minimum levels for whatever the reason, it will no longer perform at maximum protection levels. Furthermore, this will cause substantial heat loss through the ceiling and walls. When a homeowner replaces old, dilapidated insulation, the expected energy savings is a 10 – 20 percent.

If you need to replace your insulation, check reputable online resources to make the right decision.

Solar Hot Water Heater

Does this scenario sound familiar? It’s morning in the average American home; everyone is rushing to get showers and get ready for the day. The hot water is gone, and the last few showers are cold. This is an annoying problem many people have every day. A typical electric hot water heater fills with water, heats the water, then stores the heated water until needed. When the water is depleted, the process begins again.

If you are tired of cold showers and wasted energy by the electric water heater using energy to keep the water hot for when needed, there is a better solution. An eco-friendly solar water heater is a wise investment. A solar water heater system consists of a storage tank and solar collectors. The systems are available in two different types – active and passive. An active heating system has circulating pumps and controls, whereas the passive does not.

Not only will a solar water heater save you money, but it will also reduce replenish time (more hot showers.) Plus, with the energy savings, it will pay for itself within two years.

barrel, rainwater, water

Harvest Rainwater

While solar panels may be the most familiar eco-friendly concept, depending on your climate, harvesting rainwater may be the least. Think about every time it rains, the rainwater that goes through your gutters. What if you collected rainwater for irrigation or toilet flushing?

Investing in a rainwater harvesting system doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it can be very budget-friendly. Your system can consist of something as simple as a barrel or as elaborate as large cisterns. Depending on the size of your harvesting system, you can easily collect gallons in a short amount of time during a hard rain.

Replace Old Windows and Doors

Nothing will suck the energy out of your house like old drafty windows and doors. Even windows that are only ten years old are less efficient than the newer ones today. As your windows and doors age, the seals often deteriorate, allowing air to escape and producing higher energy bills.

The solution is to cocoon your home with high-quality double-pane windows. Even though the upfront investment is usually hefty, the potential savings is $400 on your yearly energy bill.

When considering replacing any windows or doors, it is always best to consult a professional contractor.

Conclusion

Some of these solutions are more complex than others. However, just getting started with the simpler ones will help you lower your energy bills and be beneficial to your family and the environment.

Michael Tobias is the founder and principal of Chicago Engineers. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech class of 2004, with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering with honors. His innovative approach to MEP engineering comes from graduating GE’s Engineering Leadership Program, where he designed wind turbines and biofuel power plant engines. Michael’s passion for design is energy efficiency and green technology.