Ok, pardon my french, but we just happen to be quite passionate about energy savings. Not just because saving energy saves you money, but because it's like...good for the planet and stuff. Over here at Nerd Power, we've set out on a mission to help homeowners cut energy costs, and to do our part for our planet. This list we've compiled is what we consider some of the best "bang for your buck" upgrades to your home. So jump in your bunker and bolt the door, because we are about to drop some knowledge bombs on you...
A Brief History
You've probably heard the term "Off The Grid" before. The first definition of the term is something along the lines of a strange man that disappears into the woods, usually hiding from the government for some unknown reason. Always paranoid, he won't allow any device that could potentially be monitored, within a 50 ft radius of himself. He undoubtedly consumes far too much homemade beef jerky, and can usually be smelled long before he can be seen.
#1 LED Conversion
Easy there! Don't just scroll past this one. You might be thinking...duh! But let me rattle off a few quick facts about LED light bulbs and their counter parts.
Traditional Bulbs (Incandescent): You know the bulbs with the little wire (filament) between the two prongs? That fragile little guy that detached at the slightest bump or shake rendering the bulb useless forever? This is Thomas Edison's baby, one of his most famous inventions. And while we respect that this invention brought us out of the age of candles and gas lamps, that was 141 years ago. Now a days there are far better options, and you don't have to melt your fingers trying to change the dang things. These bulbs are very inefficient, they also put off the most heat which can significantly increase the inside temperature of the home.
Summary: Don't use them.
CFL Bulbs: Compact Fluorescent Lamps are those little spiral guys that cast a super harsh light and take a bit to warm up sometimes. As far as efficiency goes, these are a much better option than a traditional bulb, but there are a couple of problems...
The first is that these bulbs are being phased out. Eventually you will no longer be able to purchase them. The second, and the reason they are being phased out, is that they contain mercury. Yep, that's poisonous. This not only creates a hazard to your health, but for landfills as well, where these bulbs are being crushed and those gasses escape out in the the air we breath as pollution.
Summary: Stop using them.
LED Bulbs: LEDs or Light Emitting Diode Bulbs are out number one pick. Yes they might be a little more expensive than your traditional bulbs, but that's because they last significantly longer, and are up to NINE times more efficient. It's well worth the investment over time. They also emit little to no heat, which helps reduce the interior temperature of your home.
Summary: Use LEDs. They are totally worth the investment and will save you some sweet coin in the long run.
#2 Air Seal, Duct Seal, Insulation
So technically this is 3 different things, but we packed it all into our #2 energy saving tip because they all happen in the same space...your attic.
It probably comes as no surprise to you that your attic is the most inefficient spot in your home. If you've ever poked your head up there in the middle of summer, you know what I mean. It's hot. It's dusty. It's gross. So this next tip aims to tackle the inefficiencies that are spilling out of your attic and into your home.
Air Seal: This is the process of sealing up any holes that are cut or drilled in the construction of your home from your attic into your living space. Anytime an electrical wire, light bulb, air vents etc. travel from your attic down into your walls or ceiling, there is a hole pre-drilled that is usually much too large for the actual item that will pass through it. In most states it's not even required to seal up these holes during construction, which leaves all that gross dust and hot/cold air able to freely blow into your home as your house pressurizes. So not only is your home leaking energy, it's also affecting the air quality, and increasing airborne allergens. Sealing these spots up not only helps the efficiency of the home, bust decreases allergens in the home. Now little Timmy can breathe easy at night. Sleep well little guy.
Duct Seal: Similar to Air Seal, this is the process of sealing up all the duct work in your attic. You know all those shiny bendy pipes? As you probably already know, your HVAC system is pressurized. Over time the ducts that route the hot or cold air into the different rooms in your homes can wear out, or get bumped or damaged by people climbing around in the attic. This can result in small micro-tears in your duct work that works to decrease the overall efficiency of your system. Your AC unit now has to work overtime to hit the target temperature you set on your thermostat. Here at Nerd Power we actually have a trained attic team that will tackle all three of these things at the same time. They test for little leaks and tears, and patch them all up. Good job Nerds.
Insulation: Last but not least, let's talk about that fluffy stuff. Depending on when and where your home was built, you may have blown-in, fiberglass sheets, or asbestos-filled-old-brown-yucky insulation lining your attic. Let's hope its not the latter and one of the two former. But just because you may not have asbestos flying around your house, doesn't mean your insulation is in good shape. Over time it settles and becomes more dense, which decreases how well it slows the transfer of heat. To put it simply, the fluffier the better. Older homes have outdated code that didn't require high levels of insulation to be installed during construction. Topping off your insulation can make a significant difference in maintaining temps in your home and letting your HVAC system take a much needed break from time to time.
Summary: Invest in making your attic more efficient. It's the most inefficient space in your home. As much as 85% of heat loss can happen through your attic. Here's a simple attic test you can do to find out where you stack up.
#3 Smart Thermostats
There are 3 types of common thermostats: the old school dial thermostat (Hey Grandma!), programmable thermostats, and smart thermostats. As you can tell by the title of #3, we recommend smart thermostats. Not only can they be controlled remotely by your phone from anywhere you have a cellular connection, but they can also be set up with room sensors to automatically adjust temperatures based on what room you're in. They also feature eco-modes that ensure you are staying comfortable while at home, and saving money when you are not. They are packed with energy saving features compared to your common programmable thermostat where you simply tell your HVAC system when to turn on and off.
Summary: Smart Thermostats can save you up to $180 a year in energy costs. It's a worthwhile investment if you plan to be in your home for a while or take them with you when you move.
#4 Pool Pumps
If you don't have a pool you can skip this section! If you do have a pool, shoot me a message, I'm always on the lookout for new friends with pools.
If you are the proud owner of a sparkling pool, then you are well aware that the heart of your pool's system is the pool pump. It's what circulates the water into the various processing systems and keeps the whole thing from turning into a frog pond. As you can imagine, pool pumps use a massive amount of energy. Even more so if you are still running a single speed pool pump. If you are, this is an emergency! Cancel your next trip and upgrade your pool pump. It will pay for many trips in the future. A variable speed pump over a single speed pump can save between 40-75% in energy costs. That's massive! If you don't know where to start, Nerd Power just happens to employ licensed pool techs who can bust this work out in a matter of a few hours.
Summary: If you own a pool and don't have a variable speed pump, this is a must have, and one of the biggest energy saving upgrades you can do in your home.
#5 Attic Fans
You remember how we talked about your attic being the most inefficient space in your home? Well, here's another nifty device you can deploy to combat the loss of energy through your attic!
Oh you thought we were finished? Nah. Here at Nerd Power we try our very best to go above and beyond to provide an exceptional experience for our customers from start to finish. So in light of that I thought I would hook you guys up with a bonus tip. If you find yourself struggling to contain your new found emotions for me after reading this, I do accept anonymous gifts and donations.
So without further ado, let's talk about our bonus tip: Solar Power.
Before you throw up or launch into a conniption, let's talk about some of the pros and cons of solar and what to watch out for as a homeowner.
Solar can be an awesome addition to your home and a great way to cut your energy bill down to almost nothing, but it needs to be done right. "Done right" is a loaded statement with several factors that come into play, so let's break a few of them down...
Reduce Before You Produce: That simple statement is what sets Nerd Power apart from 99% of the competition.
Imagine a big beautiful refrigerator sitting in your kitchen. You load it up with your fresh haul from the local grocers and walk away. You come back to snag a cold one after a long day, only to find your brewski is lukewarm. Ew. After a quick inspection of the fridge, you discover it's full of holes. You can feel the cold air, that's supposed to be keeping your food cold, blowing out through the holes. You mutter a quick "dadgummit" and sit down at the kitchen table to call a repairman. Two repairmen arrive at your home, look over your refrigerator and sit down to deliver a proposal on how to fix it...
Repairman #1: "Well it appears your fridge is full of holes. If you want to keep your food cold we are going to need to up the amount of electricity your fridge is using so we can get the temperature to drop."
Repairman #2: "Your fridge is full of holes, but we can get those patched up and add in a couple things to make your fridge even more efficient."
Which one makes more sense? Obviously the answer is #2. Unfortunately there are a lot of solar companies that operate just like Repairman #1. They take a quick look at how much energy you used over the last few months and then slap enough panels on your roof to try and cover it. Now you are overpaying for panels you don't need and extra energy if you make your home more efficient in the future.
It's not a good long term solution for homeowners. At Nerd Power we always look to REDUCE the energy you are currently using, before we look to PRODUCE the energy you will need. This results in a more cost effective total energy upgrade of your home. Not only saving you money each month, but adding actual equity to the home.
How The Heck Do I Pay For All This?
Alright, let's wrap this all up. I know I can be long winded.