More Smart Moves This Homeowner Made
You don't have to approach a renovation with saving the planet in mind in order to make decisions that conserve resources, not to mention your hard-earned cash. It's just the right way to remodel. Here are some energy-conserving steps homeowner Randy Fishfader took while updating her home.
1. Swapped out a space-hogging 50-gallon electric water heater for a tankless gas model. About the size of a carry-on suitcase, the new unit was installed in a crawlspace under the new addition, where it could be vented outside through a foundation wall. Unlike a standby tank, which consumes energy 24/7, a tankless system heats water only when it is needed, so it rarely runs out. It is up to 30 percent more efficient than a gas hot-water tank and up to 50 percent more efficient than an electric one. Though tankless does cost two to five times more to buy and install, it should cut water heating bills by up to 40 percent.
2. Upgraded the outmoded heating system. An old 1960 gas furnace the contractor estimates was about 60 percent efficient was replaced with a top-of-the-line model that's 92.7 percent efficient. The swap should reduce her heating costs by about one-third.
3. Replaced old leaky ducts with insulated ducts and took apart and cleaned others. Existing ducts were sealed with mastic-lined foil tape to prevent heat loss. Sealing ductwork will reduce heating costs by 3 to 10 percent.
4. Installed a programmable thermostat. This will kick up the heat—and dial it down—on any schedule Randy sets. By lowering the heat 8 degrees F when you're asleep or away and setting the temperature to change only every eight hours or so, you can cut your heating bills by almost 10 percent.
5. Put in aluminum-clad windows and doors with double panes and a low-E coating to reduce heat loss. Added in the renovated areas of the house, these new windows should reduce heat loss by as much as 25 percent compared with old, drafty ones.
6. Weatherstripped existing doors and windows. Together with sealing air leaks around plumbing and wiring, this can save 10 percent on heating bills.
7. Added skylights and a ceiling fan in the new bedroom. Skylights reduce the need for artificial light, saving electricity. Ceiling fans help distribute heated and cooled air more evenly, so the thermostat can be set a bit lower in winter and higher in summer. Heating and air-conditioning can account for half the energy used in a home, so even small savings will improve the bottom line.