8. Take advantage of new technologies. Consider products such as Dow’s Styrofoam SIS™ brand Structural Insulated Sheathing in any new building project. It contains up to 80 percent post-consumer recycled content and combines the structural and water-resistive properties of wood sheathing and housewrap with the added benefit of insulation. It offers homeowners an estimated $200 to $500 in energy savings annually, depending on heating/cooling system, geographical location, energy costs, wall assembly configuration and thickness of insulation installed. It also meets or exceeds residential code for structural shear bracing, water-resistive barrier and thermal protection in one product.
A blower door test to check for air leakage in the home is performed at a bungalow in Chicago. (c) Historic Chicago Bungalow Association
9. Schedule a blower-door test. It’s difficult to know just where those holes and cracks are that are letting cold air intrude in winter. Hire a certified Home Energy Rater to perform a blower door test and then follow the detailed recommendations. Your home will not only be more comfortable but you should be able to recover the cost of the test within a few years.
10. Make your home office energy-efficient. Choose home office equipment that is Energy Star-rated. According to the DOE, Energy Star office products overall use about half the electricity of standard equipment. Compliant equipment can also reduce air conditioning loads, noise from fans and transformers, and electromagnetic field emissions from monitors.
11. Landscape with shade in mind. If you live in a warm or hot climate, include shade in your landscape design to help cut solar heat gain and cooling costs. Shade and water vapor provided by trees can reduce surrounding air temperatures as much as nine degrees Fahrenheit. To use shade effectively, homeowners need to know sizes, shapes and locations of moving shadows that trees and shrubs will cast and to select appropriate plantings. To block the summer Sun but allow it in during the winter, use deciduous trees. To provide continuous shade, choose dense evergreen trees or shrubs. Learn more with the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Consumer Guide.
12. Install timers. Shift the impact of electric appliances by installing timers. A timer on an electric water heater, pool or hot tub can limit water heating to off-peak hours. Plug-in or hard-wired timers can regulate outdoor lights, pumps, dehumidifiers and other large appliances. Calculate what other money-saving strategies might work best for you.
13. Recover drain water heat. Hot water that goes down sink, tub, shower, dishwasher or clothes washer drains carries away energy, typically 80 to 90