3 Ways To Save Money On Home Energy

 

 

3 Simple Ways to Save Money on Rising Energy Costs

Rising energy costs are affecting people worldwide after the COVID-19 pandemic, and many Americans have struggled to keep up with their monthly expenses. 

One-in-five Americans failed to pay their monthly heating bill in full at least once this past winter.

Nearly 30% of our fellow citizens reduced or went without basic needs such as food and medicine to pay their energy bills in the last year. 

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts continuing increases in energy costs in 2022. 

This trend has forced many Americans to look for ways to conserve energy not only to decrease their environmental impact but to lower their at-home energy costs. 

How to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient (With Actionable Steps) 

Luckily, there are ways to save money on rising energy bills by making your home more energy-efficient. 

Before going through the following steps, it is good to review your energy bill. The average electricity consumption is about 1000 kW/month. If yours is higher than this, you have great potential for future savings. 

1. Adjust the Temperature of Your Home 

Minor changes in your thermometer settings can save you money and help improve your home's energy efficiency. 

Here are a few ways to adjust the temperature to reduce at-home energy costs: 

  • Consider the location of your thermostat 
  • Set the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the winter 
  • Turn the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer 
  • Make use of natural sunlight
  • Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees

Consider the location of your thermostat:

Keep your thermostat away from any areas where it may be exposed to extreme temperatures. These sudden temperature changes can trick the thermostat into believing the room is a lot hotter or colder than it is. 

Examples of extreme temperature areas can include: 

  • Near a door that can let in warm or cold air from the outside 
  • Close to windows that cast warm sunshine directly on the thermostat 
  • Outside a bathroom door where the thermostat can be exposed to warm steamy air 
  • Nearby TV sets or lamps, as these devices produce heat that could throw off thermostats sensors

Set the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower during the winter/Turn the thermostat to 78 degrees in the summer:  

Often people like to keep their thermometer at a set temperature to keep their heating and cooling systems from working too hard to get their home to a comfortable temperature. 

However, adjusting the set temperature while not at home can cut back on heating costs in the winter and cooling costs in the summer. 

Homes that are energy efficient will hold a steady temperature for hours longer than homes which are not energy efficient.

Make use of natural sunlight:

Also, natural sunlight can help you keep your home warm in the winter. During the winter months, let the sunlight in to help warm rooms with plenty of windows. 

With proper window coverings such as blackout or UV curtains, blocking out those same windows during the summer can help you keep your home cooler.

If you windows are older, they are likely also not as efficient as modern windows. Premier Home Solutions is your local complete window replacement resource. Our windows were designed in house for maximum energy efficiency, and are Energy Star® certified. This means our window meet the governments highest standards for reducing air loss.

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Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees:

While thinking about temperature control in your house, check on your water heater. Adjusting the tank to 120 degrees is manageable for most homes. This adjustment also helps reduce accidental scalding and can slow the build-up of minerals in your water tank. 

Replace old or damaged insulation

The biggest ally to maintaining your homes temperature is the insulation. If your home is over 5 years old, it might be a good idea to examine the insulation in your home. Fiberglass insulation is not the best choice for todays homes. It was and still is widely used, but it can provide pests with nesting space, and loses its effectiveness if it gets wet.

Spray in cellulose insulation is great for attics that don't have enough insulation to begin with. Cellulose is more environmentally friendly than fiberglass insulation and more economical than other choices. It provides quality insulation in spaces where insulation can be allowed to settle.

Spray foam insulation is the most effective and also the most environmentally friendly option. Available in different types for each unique situation, spray foam can be used to seal air leaks and fill spaces that need insulation where settling would be a problem. It fills any cavity it is applied too and does not settle over time. This type of insulation can be added to attics and even sprayed into existing walls without requiring tearing apart drywall. The noise dampening and water proof nature of spray foam, are bonus qualities that cellulose and fiberglass insulation, do not offer.

2. Stop heated or cooled air from escaping your home

Let's face it, gaps in and around the house is one of the biggest contributors to waisted home energy. Heated or cooled air can escape a home easily through gaps in walls, around windows and other areas you might not think. Critters such as mice and spiders also use these gaps as if they had an open invitation.

The solution is to ensure all areas of your home are properly sealed. We offer a blower door test that allows our technicians to quickly identify where conditioned air is escaping your home. Our team will then create a plan to seal up these leaks for good.

The average home loses enough heated or cooled air through air gaps, it has been compared to leaving a window open year round. You wouldn't throw money out the window. Proper air sealing keeps that money in your pocket, and pays for itself over a few short years.

3. Schedule a Home Energy Audit

If you’ve completed the above steps and still need more ideas on how to increase your home's energy efficiency, then you should consider scheduling a home energy audit. 

Premier Home Solution's home energy audits identify problem areas in your home and allows us to make a plan to fit your budget, and maximize your return on investment.

While there are ways to DIY your home energy audit, it does require a lot of work and is often not as effective unless you are very familiar with the products and techniques the pros use. Scheduling a home energy audit with a professional company can help make sure you don’t miss any potential savings as well.

Plus, our BPI certified home energy auditors, have access to state of the art tools like infrared cameras, gadgets to detect drafts, and other energy issues with your home. Such issues may be caused by poor or damage insulation, out of date windows & doors, or even gaps in your home that allow heated air out and creepy crawly critters in.

According to Energy.gov, you can save an average of 10 - 20% on your annual energy costs if you address common issues found during home energy audits. These improvements Pay for themselves over time!

Schedule your free no obligation home energy consultation today!

Although rising energy costs can seem like an ongoing problem, we can help reduce your costs and upgrade your home's environmental footprint.

For more information and energy-saving resources, contact Premier Home Solutions today. 

 

Sources: 

Energy.gov - Thermostat Savings This Winter

The United States Census Bureau - Household Pulse Survey (housing 4 Week 39) 

U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) - EIA forecasts higher U.S. heating bills this winter

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Icicles and Attic Insulation

What Can Icicles On My Roof Tell Me About My Home's Energy Efficiency?

During the winter, as you’re driving around, take a look at some of the homes in your neighborhood. If you’re in a neighborhood with many new built homes pay close attention to a neighborhood with older homes, and vice versa. 

Take a look at the eaves and soffits on the roofs. Why do some homes have icicles hanging from their roofs, while others have none? Do older homes generally have more icicles than new ones? Are some icicles on homes larger than others? 

The simple answer to these questions is insulation, particularly attic insulation. At its most basic, homes with adequate insulation have few to no icicles, and homes with less insulation have more icicles and bigger ones. 

How does this happen? When hot air is able to escape out of the roof of your home, it melts tiny amounts of the snow and ice on the roof in wintertime. This liquid water slowly makes its way down to the edge of the roof, where no longer supplied with heat from inside, it freezes once again into icicles, like a stalactite in a cave. 

Although icicles are far from the only way to tell, and even if you don't have them you may still have a problem. However, if your home has icicles, it is likely not as energy efficient as it should be. This costs you money through heat loss and ice damage to your roof.

Do I Have Enough Insulation In My Attic? 

These icicles are not only a symptom of a problem, they are a problem themselves. Because water expands when it freezes, water runoff from an under insulated attic can become trapped and freeze, damaging roofing and other materials like shingles and gutters. 

Icicles are a good indicator that a home needs more insulation, but even homes with no icicles may need insulation added. In the lower part of Michigan, zone 5, your attic insulation should have an r value of 38-60. This means you need insulation about 16-18 inches deep. 

The vast majority of homes in lower Michigan don’t have anywhere near enough insulation. As an educated guess, from decades in this business, we would wager that at least two thirds of homes that we see have inadequate insulation in the attic and walls. They likely need insulation in other important areas like the crawlspace and sill plate as well.

It’s likely your home doesn’t have enough insulation. But how do you know? 

How Can I Find Out if I Have Enough Insulation In My Attic?

One way to check is to get up in the attic with a tape measure and take a look. But this is going to be dirty, not fun, and potentially hazardous to your health. 

We, however, are happy to do it for you. And we can even do one better: We'll perform a free home energy audit to scientifically assess where your home is losing heat (or cool air in the summer) and how we can save you money on home heating bills. Addressing these issues takes care of fringe issues, like icicles on your home.

Again, these home energy audits are absolutely free, take just a few hours, use hi-tech equipment not readily available to homeowners, and tell you just where you can get the most bang for your home improvement buck. These improvements— like increased attic insulation— often pay for themselves over the life of the material, making them an excellent and near universally lauded investment. 

Give us a call today to schedule your free in-home consultation. We’ll send a technician to your home at a time that is convenient for you. If you would like we can perform a comprehensive home energy audit, that will show where you are losing valuable energy dollars.

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Michigan Home Insulation

How much Insulation do I need for Michigan Winters?

In the insulation and home energy business, we often hear this question: how much insulation do I need? Living in an environment like Michigan, where January temperatures average in the teens, that goes double for the state: How much insulation do I need for Michigan winters? 

The short answer is, more is better. In general, the more insulation you have the more heat will stay in your home during our long cold winters, and the more money you and your family will save on energy bills. 

This however, is only half of the story. Having the correct type of insulation in the correct place is just as important as having more. For example, if your walls are well insulated but your attic contains too little or the insulation up there is damaged, you can be potentially losing out on thousands of dollars. 

So let’s take a look at some different factors that can affect how much insulation you need, as well as offer some recommendations 

Types of Insulation

As you likely know, there are multiple types of insulation. The most common are batt insulation (the pink stuff that looks like cotton candy), cellulose insulation (that looks like shredded and fluffy cardboard) and spray foam insulation (that looks just how it sounds, and is generally yellow or blue). 

To put it simply, spray foam is the best. Inch for inch. It offers the best insulating properties available on the market today. Almost all newly built homes include spray foam insulation in the walls, and sometimes on the roof deck, because it works the best. It also provides some additional rigidity to the structure of your home. 

There can be drawbacks, though. Creating depth with this type of insulation can be difficult, like in attics. That’s when we use cellulose insulation. This type of insulation is not particularly suited to walls, because it can settle, leaving a gap at the top that is uninsulated. But when laid horizontally, like in an attic, settling is much less of an issue, and it can be sprayed in as deeply as is called for. 

As for fiberglass batt insulation, it’s better than nothing, but only provides the insulation it claims under perfect conditions.  

Location of Insulation

Where your insulation is located is also a factor. Perhaps you have an adequate amount of insulation in your walls, but a less than ideal amount in your attic. One area of concern that is not always understood is floor insulation. 

We know that heat rises, but up to 20 percent of your heat can leave through a crawlspace via the floor. It’s intensely important that your floor is insulated as well, as this can be an area that’s overlooked. 

Same with slab on grade insulation. This is insulation that insulates your foundation and home from the chilling effects of being connected to the ground, another often overlooked area. This type of insulation is rather advanced, but important for an overall energy barrier for your home, especially in cold climates like Michigan. 

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Recommendations For Mid Michigan Homes

So, how much insulation do we need in Michigan? Well, there are a number of heating and cooling zones defined by the Department of Energy. Most of the state is in zone 5, and more northern areas are in zone 6. For our purposes, R-value is a measure of how well an insulation material holds in heat. 

In zone 5, for the attic your insulation should have an r value of 38-60. In the attic this means cellulose insulation should be 16-18 inches deep. 

Walls should have an r value of R 13-21, which depending on the size of your wall cavities can be accomplished through spray foam as well as the addition of insulation sheathing on the outside of the home and under the siding. 

For floors, the recommendation is R 25-30. This is often best accomplished through spray foam. 

Call for a Free Home Energy Audit

If you’d like to know if you have enough insulation in your home, call us today and we will perform an absolutely free home energy audit. We will determine where your home could use more insulation and where it may be performing properly. 

These no-obligation consultations can tell you scientifically if you have gaps in your home’s defense against the heat and cold, and we can tell you exactly if you have enough insulation for Michigan. We perform these audits within approximately 100 miles of Lansing. 

Give us a call to schedule a free home energy audit, and get on the road to saving money on your home heating & cooling bills.

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