Since I began a serious quest to reduce energy use at home more than four years ago, I have seen an average drop in my energy and water bills of approximately 17 percent annually. This year it should be an 8 percent savings – but that’s pretty good, too. Overall, our energy bill has decreased 43 percent, even though prices have increased.
So, how did we do it? Following is a list of some of the improvements and actions we took in our house over the past four years to reduce energy use.
• Completed a home-energy audit including blower door duct test to identify leakage.
• Started tracking electricity, gas and water use monthly on Excel.
• Sealed all ducts in the forced-air system using mastic.
• Balanced the air flow in the forced-air system, to make it more comfortable and reduce waste.
• Replaced the old refrigerator with highly efficient Energy Star unit.
• Replaced garage refrigerator with smaller Energy Star unit.
• Installed Energy Star ceiling fans.
• Set thermostat to 78 F in summer, 62 F in winter. Adjusted clothing and got used to it.
• Sealed around can lights to reduce air leakage.
• Replaced 90 percent of light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs.
• Insulated hot-water pipes with high-density foam.
• Shortened shower times.
• Turned off all landscape lighting permanently except for special occasions.
• Installed energy monitor to the main panel, to monitor energy use daily.
• Installed motion detector energy strip on all home office equipment except central processing unit (CPU), so it all turns off when I am not in the office. Manually turn off CPU.
• Plugged TV and all home entertainment equipment into strip outlet and turned off strip outlet when not in use (except for cable box).
• Installed solar-powered attic fan to reduce heat build-up.
• Cleaned solar panels yearly to increase efficiency.
• Moved roof jacks to eliminate all shading on solar panels.
• Practiced “turn lights off when you leave a room.” (Yikes, I’m becoming my mom!)
• Installed Smart AC controller (free through PG&E) to reduce energy use when the air conditioner is on.
• Kept AC off, except on the most blistering days.
We installed the following items more than nine years ago: solar panels, a tankless water heater, an on-demand water recirculation pump (Metlund ACT) and a high-efficiency forced-air unit
It’s great to see that all these actions make a difference, and that my energy bill has decreased significantly. I also feel better that I’m trying to reduce my global-warming contribution. Because I’m a green building and sustainability professional, I know there is much more I can do. And, my intention is to keep doing more, a little bit each year, one step at a time. That’s all we can each do, starting wherever we are.
I hope this list gives you some ideas. If you haven’t already done a home energy audit, I encourage you to start there, to help you create a roadmap for identifying steps you can take to reduce your energy use now and over the coming years. EnnovationZ is a local audit company based in Mountain View with a relationship with GreenTown Los Altos. The company will donate 10 percent of your audit cost to GreenTown.
For more information, visit www.EnnovationZ.com.