Energy Efficiency at Home

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Your Home Commitment to Energy Efficiency

Choosing to go solar with Community Solar is a practical first step in supporting renewable energy and reducing your carbon footprint. However, there are still a number of ways you can help your home remain energy efficient and environmentally-conscious. Whether it’s checking your insulation or purchasing energy efficient appliances, you can maximize your energy impact, even beyond home solar.

How to Conduct a Home Energy Audit

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Appliances

Check to see if your appliances are Energy Star qualified. Energy Star appliances are optimized to use less energy than is required by federal standards, helping save you on energy and costs. Remember to buy appliances that fit your home’s uses, so you don’t waste your solar energy. For instance, if your refrigerator is too large for your household, you’re spending money to cool empty space and wasting energy that could be saved or used elsewhere. Consider purchasing a refrigerator that has an ENERGY STAR label that has enough space for your household with little to no empty space.

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Heating and Cooling Systems

Systems that heat and cool your home typically use a sizable portion of your home’s energy. Make sure to buy energy efficient heating and cooling systems that have the Energy Star label and meet the Department of Energy’s standards. It’s important to clean air filters or filters for a furnace to avoid buildup and reduce energy waste. Buildup in filters can make the heating or cooling system work twice as hard and use twice as much energy. A water heater can also impact your energy waste. There are several water heaters to choose from, like conventional storage water heaters or tankless coil and indirect water heaters, that will fit your family’s needs without wasting energy. Explore the different water heater options and choose the best option for your household that maximizes your energy usage. Another noteworthy appliance for energy efficient heating and cooling is a programmable thermostat. These allow you to regulate your home’s temperature in both summer and winter, and some even let the homeowner adjust the temperature while they’re away from the house.

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Lighting

If you use traditional light bulbs, you could be losing money as 90% of the energy used in a lightbulb is given off as heat. There are other energy efficient options, like CFLs or LEDs, that use less energy and last longer. Make sure to replace traditional lightbulbs in frequently used lighting fixtures with a more energy efficient option that has the Energy Star rating.

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Outdoor Landscaping

The climate you live in is a large factor in using energy wisely for your home’s outdoor landscaping. A well-placed tree or shrub can cut energy costs by keeping your home warm or cold. For example, a tree can deflect winter winds away from heated homes and reduce the amount of energy needed to warm your home.  Bushes and trees that provide shade can help prevent the hot summer sun from heating your air-conditioned home and making your air conditioner run constantly.

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Sealing and Insulation

Air leaks commonly result in energy waste. You can prevent air leaks with caulking cracks in stationary house components, like around a door, and weatherstripping for leaks in movable components, such as operable windows. These two techniques are simple and effective in sealing your home from air leaks, saving you energy and money.

Carbon Footprint Calculator

Another factor to keep in mind when thinking about home energy efficiency is your personal carbon footprint. The average household in the United States consumes 943 kWh of electricity per month and emits an average of 14,020 lbs. of CO2 per year. For one person, the average annual CO2 emissions from electricity is 5,455 lbs. of CO2. Do you know how much carbon your home and family produces? You can discover your carbon footprint with our carbon footprint calculator. We divide the amount of energy by the number of people in your house to find an individual footprint.

Enter your average electricity usage and the number of people in your home, and we’ll calculate your full household footprint. You can offset your footprint by signing up for Clearway’s Community Solar and investing in solar energy. Check out available solar farms near you and talk to us about availability.

Top Ten Tips For Energy Efficiency

 

  1. Make sure you have Energy Star qualified appliances, systems, and lightbulbs. Energy Star products use less energy than is required by federal standards and will save you money in the long run.
  2. Stock the fridge and run full loads in the dishwasher and the washer and dryer. Empty space in a refrigerator uses more energy to cool the unused space. Using the dishwasher, washer, and dryer when it is not full means you might be using it more frequently and using more energy than is necessary. Make sure you use the washer, dryer, and dishwasher only when you have a full load of laundry or a full rack of dishes.
  3. Let your dishes air dry. Instead of using energy to dry your dishes, turn on the air-dry switch on your dishwasher, or turn your dishwasher off after the final rinse and simply prop the door open slightly.
  4. Use the microwave or a convection oven to reheat food. Instead of turning on your oven and waiting for it to warm to the correct temperature, reheat food with a smaller appliance to use less energy. You can also cook multiple meals in an oven at a given time, so you don’t need to keep re-heating the oven. If you do use the oven, avoid opening it before the timer goes off so that you don’t let in cool air.
  5. Use a programmable thermostat to regulate your home’s temperature. This gives you a convenient way to control the temperature of your home, even when you’re away. For portions of the day when you are gone, consider turning your thermostat back a few degrees from its normal setting to help save energy.
  6. Check air ducts for leaks and insulation. If you find a leak, look for separated pieces or holes and patch them with heat-approved tape. For ducts that are not in insulated spaces, consider adding insulation to reduce energy loss.
  7. Change traditional lightbulbs to CFLs or LEDs. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use less electricity than traditional lightbulbs and lasts longer. Light emitting diodes (LEDs) uses even less energy and can last 15-25 times longer than traditional lightbulbs. Use a CFL or LED for frequently used lighting fixtures.
  8. Landscape with the climate in mind. Depending on where you live, planting trees or shrubs can help you keep your home warm or cool. For example, a tree could provide shade for homes in hot-arid regions, while shrubs could act as windbreaks to protect from cold winds in cool regions.
  9. Make sure all windows and doors have weatherstripping. Any components of your home that moves could potentially have air leaks. Weatherstripping helps keep the air in when windows and doors are closed.
  10. Use caulking to fill cracks or openings. For stationary components of your home, like the frame around a door, use caulking to seal air leaks.

Energy Efficiency Tips by State

Looking for local energy efficiency tips? Find answers to practice sustainability in your Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, or New York home.  efficient and maximize the energy you receive from Clearway Community Solar.

New York Energy Efficiency Tips

The state of New York has a cooler climate that can become hot during the summer. Winter months can be cold and long, raising the energy bill when the heat turns on. Homeowners in New York can use dense windbreakers, like shrubs, to protect from the wind during the winter months. For New York renters, make sure any south-facing windows allow the winter sun to stream through to warm the home. It’s also important to maintain your heating system by cleaning and replacing filters once a month or when recommended.

Minnesota

Minnesota has harsh winters and hot summers. Make sure to close blinds and curtains on south-facing windows to reduce the winter chill from cold windows. Planting low shrubs on the windward side of your home can also trap snow before it blows next to your house. During the summer, consider adjusting your thermostat higher when you’re away from the house to use less electricity.

Massachusetts

It can grow hot during the summer in Massachusetts and decidedly cold in the winter after the leaves change color. Consider planting deciduous trees to the south of your home to eliminate 70-90% of the summer heat while still allowing a breeze to blow through. It is also a good idea to plant windbreaks to insulate your home with dead space during summer or winter seasons. Make sure all your appliances are Energy Star qualified and use power strips to reduce electronic energy usage.

Illinois

Illinois has a cool climate with warm summers. Planting trees on either side of your house can help in the summer and winter. During summer months, the trees can offer shade and direct cooling wind toward the house, helping your home stay nice and cool. In the winter, the trees can act as a windbreaker and help the windchill around your house be less severe. A well-designed landscape could save enough energy to pay for itself in less than eight years.

Energy Efficiency Resources

Want to do more? Take a look at the following resources and make your home as energy efficient as possible. Join the solar revolution and reduce your carbon footprint by signing up for Community Solar and using these tips for an energy efficient home.

Additional Resources