Thanks to major advances in building techniques and product innovation, today’s new home owner can expect to use only half of the energy compared to a similar home built in 1950, and at the same time enjoy a far more comfortable living environment.
While today’s new home standards offer an excellent starting point, there are still many opportunities, to further increase the performance and the comfort of a new home.
Common window upgrades include low-E coating on the glass, inert gas fill between glass layers and insulating spacers to keep the glass layers apart – all designed to reduce the transfer of heat from the warmest to the coldest parts of the window. This also reduces window condensation and makes homes more comfortable. Other options include additional glass layers and improved frame design.
Some windows carry an Energy Rating (ER) label that makes it easier to compare performance and relative heat loss. Positive rate windows mean they can actually contribute to heating your home through passive solar gain. Fixed, or non-opening, windows are generally more energy efficient than operable windows.
The option to reduce heating costs and increase comfort include high-efficiency furnaces, as well as more recent systems such as hybrid furnaces combining space and water heating; in-floor radiant heating, and “heating zone” controls. Programmable thermostats with multiple modes and other features can help to maximize your heating dollars.
Choosing energy-efficient models can make a significant difference on anybody’s budget. For appliances, the Energy Star® mark on the label identifies the most energy-efficient models while the EnerGuide labels compares model energy ratings.
There are many other ways you can measure that can reduce your utility bills, such as fans with timers; low-flow showerheads for the bathroom; energy-efficient lighting with automatic timers, and motion or light sensors for outside security lighting.
A drain water heat recovery system can recover some or most of the valuable energy from warm water that goes down the drain, and uses it to preheat cold fresh water. The warm water that goes down the drain transfers its heat through the copper walls of the drain water heat recovery unit to warm the cold water, before it goes into the water heater. It’s simple and will result in savings of up to 40% on water heating costs for many years to come.
These energy efficiency opportunities save homeowners money – monthly energy savings can easily exceed any additional mortgage cost for the energy efficiency improvements, resulting in a positive cash-flow from the first day of home ownership.