The housing market is rebounding after a long dry spell, with sales of new homes in September up nearly six percent, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. New home construction is also up in various parts of the country, and housing had risen to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 872,000 new homes, the highest level in four years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
As construction grows, more builders, engineering and construction companies are interested in making homes more energy efficient for the next generation of home buyers. Innovations like Nest, a new thermostat that senses your home arrivals and departures and sets thermostat reading based on you preferences, are emerging.
The building industry itself is learning about and starting to implement new LEED energy guidelines to be implemented starting in 2015. By using green construction options in commercial and residential developments, builders in the LEED program can gain points and credibility that help gain more energy-efficient projects.
About the new guidelines, USA Today writes: “The new standards would require building operators to write a plan for running the building efficiently and to tell the building council about energy and water use for five years. Both measures aim to help buildings meet their predicted energy and water consumption.” More than 13,500 U.S. commercial buildings are LEED-certified, and another 30,000 have started the steps toward getting LEED certification.
It’s important to know the difference between energy efficiency and energy conservation. ‘Energy conservation’ is when a house or apartment dweller reduces or willfully avoids a service to save energy. When you turn off a light when you leave the room, you’re conserving energy. But you’re being energy efficient when you switch to a compact florescent lamp from incandescent lamps, as the fluorescent lamp uses much less energy (between 20-40 percent less) to produce the same amount of light.
The same goes for home heating and cooling, windows, appliances, electronics and more. More people are seeking to make their homes less prone to high heating or air conditioning costs, and users saved money for other financial needs. By replacing older models with new energy-efficient versions, you’ll not only just save energy, but you’ll save money on your energy bills. You’ll also know that you’re preventing less greenhouse gases from going into the atmosphere.
Your home can lose anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of its heat through windows and doors. In spring and autumn, light and fresh air may be welcome into your home this way. But despite the fact that windows make up only about 10 percent of a home’s insulated shell, up to 50 percent of the home’s heating and cooling energy pours through them. May also add more heat to your home in summertime, and more cold air in the winter.
Next to a home’s heating and cooling costs, water heating is the next largest home energy use. You can save energy by reducing your water heater’s thermostat to 120°F, installing low-flow faucets and shower heads, and choosing a new energy efficient water heater. There are good tips at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy.gov website, like conduct a home energy audit. Here are some tips for making your home more energy efficient:
Heat your home in cold weather by opening your window’s blinds during the day. This will let the sunlight naturally heat your home. Likewise, shut the blinds in cold weather to keep cold air out of your home.
Lower Water Heater Temperatures
Using hot water for doing the laundry, cleaning the dishes and taking hot showers and baths can account for nearly a quarter of your home’s total energy use. Consider lowering the temperature of your home’s water heater to 120 degrees. Also, do more warm water and cold water washes for the laundry, which can reduce your water heating bill by a third.
Seal Leaky Windows
If your window frames leak cold air in the winter, it’s time to cover them up. Buy a strong clear plastic sheet and affix it to the inside of your window frames. Seal the entire window tightly to reduce air coming in. Using shades and blinds on windows, as well as heavy curtains can also have a major impact on your heating bills.
Lower Air Temperatures
As mentioned above, programmable thermostats can help you reduce energy costs and make your home more energy efficient. Also, simple tips like wearing more clothes in the house can enable you to lower your thermostat. You can save around 10 percent on your heating and cooling bills during the year.
Check For Leaks
Checking your house interior and exterior for air leaks might be the single most important project you do as a homeowner. Use this guide to air seal your home. The obvious air leaks will come from around windows, in the space underneath doors, and from unfinished areas around cupboards and closets. The best trick is to work with a professional technician. If you unable to do this, or prefer to do it yourself, you should caulk the perimeter of windows areas, place rolled up carpets in front of doors, and seal up the areas around recessed lighting in your ceilings for leaks and drafts.
Maintain HVAC Systems
Make sure to keep regular tabs on your heating, cooling and ventilation system around the home. Clean and replace the filters for each air area, run a spot check every few months through the ventilation system and clear out any outdoor debris that might clog up any ventilation areas.
Lower Your Holiday Lighting Costs
With the holidays soon upon, many homeowners will feel compelled to decorate the interior and exterior of their homes with Christmas lights. If you do, experts recommend using LED lights. These new types of home LED lighting lights use at least 75 percent less energy than incandescent lighting, and last 25 times longer. LED lighting comes in many different home and commercial varieties, and with better LED technology, this has led to many more products using LED, which is helping to lower overall prices to consumers.
Make smart sense this upcoming winter season and properly take steps to insulate your home, reduce operating overhead and save money by becoming more energy efficient.