10 More Ways to be Energy Efficient

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Let’s say you already read our first list, and you already have solar (or are thinking about it). How do you get even more energy efficient?

Every household has different energy strengths and weaknesses. While a solar array is designed to power the entire home in most cases, we’ve got a few extra pointers in case you’re not able to reach 100% renewable power.

 

Attic Insulation

 Above: Radiant Barrier example. Below: Blown-in insulation

Above: Radiant Barrier example. Below: Blown-in insulation

Attics come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the style of home, you may have space hanging over your head that you don’t know much about.

Figuring out the rating of your insulation is important. Insulation works as a heat sponge, preventing excessive hot or cold temperatures from making it to your living room. Most properly-insulated homes will have more than a foot-deep layer of blown-in insulation, or fully sealed spray-foam along the upper beams.

If you’re under-insulated, it’s best to contact a professional (unless you’re ready to dress up as a fluff-blasting firefighter).

 

Radiant Barriers

Insulation is crucial, but only half the battle. Heat from the sun travels as a radiative or radiant heat wave. Remember how your insulation is a sponge? Well, sponges can only absorb so much. A radiant barrier bounces the majority of that heat back out before it hits your insulation. Products like AtticFoil are relatively inexpensive and highly effective when installed properly.

The sheets can be stapled to the exposed rafters (as shown above), or just laid out on top of the existing insulation. Again, hiring a professional will make it easiest. But this is a great D.I.Y. solution if you have a couple helping hands willing to climb around the attic with you.

One more exciting possibility is graphene paint. In a nutshell, graphene is a supermaterial with a smorgasbord of applications on the horizon. An innovative company out of the U.K. is pioneering this eco-friendly energy-efficient paint for homes and businesses, interiors and exteriors. The downside? It’s not easy to buy, and it’s not coming to the U.S. of A soon enough! If you get your hands on some, please let us know how in the comments - we’re dying over here. 

 

Wastewater Heat Recovery

Ever wished you could heat up your morning shower faster? Heat-recovery technology is your best bet. Products such as EcoDrain are designed to reduce wasted water and wasted energy simultaneously. If you have an electric water heater, it’s already asking the solar on your roof to devote plenty of kilowatt-hours. Installing a heat exchanger should ease that hefty burden.


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Smart Bulbs

Remember that time you had to reach all the way over to the wall to darken the room as you left it? Remember when everything in your life wasn’t connected to the Internet Of Things?

You guessed it – you can tell your light bulbs when to turn on and off, anytime you want, from anywhere. Check these out. No more bulbs burning, forgotten for hours or days at a time, chowing down on your solar power credits.

“Alexa, did I forget to turn off the bathroom light again?” Click.

 

Smart Thermostats

You’ve probably heard of the Nest learning thermostats or something similar. They automatically learn your heating and cooling habits to help optimize your energy savings. Plus, you can set it to warm up or cool off remotely, without expending all that energy of standing up and walking over to the wall. Now that’s energy efficiency.

We’re currently offering an optional upgrade package for new and existing solar customers. You get a Nest thermostat as well as Consumption Monitoring, giving you all your home energy info at your fingertips. Call us today for a quote!

Smart Outlets

Remember the phantoms and vampires? Just like it sounds, you can and should turn off power when you’re not using it. If you’ve got a TV or a gaming system plugged in all the time, or want to have a timer set so you don’t overdo it on screen time, some of these are great solutions. No more yelling at the kids to quit playing Xbox - you can switch it off remotely!


Patch Your Leaks

Windows and doors are notorious culprits for bleeding energy. But they’re rarely beyond redemption. Picking up a fresh tube of caulk will set you back a few bucks, and sealing cracks around one window will take you a few minutes each. Weather-stripping larger crevices around frames is also quick, cheap, and easy.

In some instances, replacing older windows outright will be necessary to maximize your savings. Average costs can run upwards of several hundred dollars per window. It’s usually a last resort for homes more than a few decades old. Still, that beats wasting thousands of dollars in needlessly spent energy!

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Ditch the Space Heater

We don’t like chilly toes either, but hear us out. If you’re using a space heater for long periods of time, or at the same time as your central heat is running full-blast, you are literally blowing hot air.

Space heaters aren’t designed with efficiency in mind. They’re electricity’s version of rubbing two sticks together. You wouldn’t heat your house by turning the oven on.


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Cold Wash Your Clothes

You thought we were going to say “take cold showers”, didn’t you? What kind of monsters do you think we are?

Most washing machines get the job done with cold water and liquid detergent. Save energy and protect your dark colors from fading at the same time!

 

Get a Whole-Home Energy Audit

Still want more tips? If you want a complete picture of your home’s overall efficiency, hiring a certified energy auditor is a great idea. Using technology like infrared cameras, the experts can provide you a crystal-clear picture of your problem points, along with steps to fix them.

Sometimes your local utility will perform audits, or at least refer a good professional. We work with several, and we’re always on the lookout for quality partners, so we’re happy to give or receive a recommendation – just drop us a line in the comments. Ask your city or county about any programs they offer to boost your “green” rating.

 

And of course, the best way to save on energy is to make your own! The sun is already hitting your roof all day long – do you have panels catching those rays yet? Get started by talking to one of our energy experts today.

 Header image: By Till Teenck, Erwan WMFr (File:Light-Bulb icon by Till Teenck.svg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons