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What Your Bills Are Telling You About Your Home's Energy Efficiency

Various factors affect your utility bills. Fuel prices fluctuate due to supply and demand, and the rate of increase or decrease depends on the type and location. Regions with abundant fossil fuel reserves or that use clean energy sources are less susceptible to wild price swings. Bad habits leading to power waste can also reflect on your electric and gas bills. There’s also one more thing to consider — your home’s energy efficiency.
What Your Bills Are Telling You About Your Home

Energy efficiency is your house’s ability to function using less power. If your home is efficient, you use no more gas, propane, wood or electricity than necessary to regulate your indoor climate, heat water, light rooms and refrigerate food. An inefficient property could result in high energy bills related to the following five instances.

1.  Your Appliances Are Outdated

Regardless of how long or often you run your appliances, they will consume more energy than needed when they’re old.

Technology underperforms over time due to wear and tear and may have dated components unoptimized for energy efficiency. If you think they’ve seen better days, consider upgrading them.

EnergyGuide label literacy is the key to choosing the most efficient products. It tells you an appliance’s estimated yearly power cost and electricity use, allowing you to make apples-to-apples comparisons easily. It includes data in dollar terms to save you the trouble of doing the math when confronted with figures in kilowatt-hours.

Only some appliances bear the EnergyGuide label. Air conditioners, boilers, furnaces, heat pumps, ceiling fans, pool heaters, refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers, freezers and TVs do. If you don’t see this yellow sticker on a product, it may be inside or on its manufacturer’s site.

2.  Your Insulation Is Inadequate

Poor insulation will lead to higher heating bills. It’s your primary defense against various forms of heat loss. Most insulation materials reduce heat flow through conduction and convection.

Conduction happens when heat moves between objects in direct contact with one another. You can burn your hand when you touch a hot iron pan because the heat transfers to your skin. Convection occurs when heat moves through liquids or gases. You feel more comfortable ventilating a humid room with colder drafts from outside because cool air replaces hot air.

There’s a third kind of heat transfer — radiation. Objects emit thermal energy, which can bounce off surfaces. For example, you can feel hot when standing in an unshaded area at midday because the sun radiates heat onto you. Only some insulation products reduce radiant heat gain.

Regardless of the type of heat transfer you want to minimize with insulation, targeting the desirable R-value for your region and home section matters. The R-value is a measurement of thermal resistance, so the higher it is, the more insulating the product will be.

How do you know if your home is underinsulated? Schedule an energy audit. An assessor can run tests to see how well your existing insulation holds up. This professional will recommend an upgrade if your insulating material is water-damaged, worn out or moldy.

A thorough energy audit can also reveal if you have excess insulation. This can happen when a new insulation layer covers the old one. Mixing the two can jeopardize the new material’s performance and shorten its life span. Overinsulation can also restrict airflow, trap moisture and promote condensation, affecting your home’s health, comfort and air quality.

3.  Your House Is Leaky

Gaps between building materials encourage convective heat flow. Timber-framed homes are prone to developing cracks because wood expands and contracts as temperature changes.

Although you can’t stop this phenomenon, you can neutralize it with caulking and weatherstripping. Apply caulk to seal the cracks and openings between stationary home components, like walls. Insert strips of material into the gaps between windows, such as casement, awning and double-hung, and other moving fixtures to stop air leakage.

Caulk and weatherstripping materials are subject to wear and tear. Redoing them every few years can be a chore, but it’s a small sacrifice to ensure your home stays as airtight and energy-efficient as possible.

4.  Your Windows Resist Little Heat

Inefficient windows are an energy drain. Some use materials prone to thermal expansion and contraction. Others lack enough insulating gas to slow heat transfer through the glass. Low-performance windows permit solar heat gain, increasing your house’s cooling load during the warmest months.

Retiring your old windows in favor of high-performance ones can lower your energy bills by up to $465 yearly. The more inefficient your current windows are, the more money you can lose.

The typical high-performance window has:

  •  Multiple panes
  • An insulating gas inserted between the layers of glazing
  • Low-emissivity coatings for thermally insulating your home and blocking unwanted solar heat
  • A warm-edge spacer designed to maintain the optimal distance of glass panels between one another and reduce heat transfer around the corners
  • A framing material less prone to structural damage due to extreme temperature changes

Aside from scrutinizing a window’s anatomy, pay attention to its energy performance ratings prepared by the National Fenestration Rating Council. You may see five metrics, but the three most relevant to energy efficiency are the U-factor, solar heat gain coefficient and air leakage. Lower numbers are better.

5.  You Don’t Have LED Lights

Old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs and compact fluorescent lamps turn most of the energy they consume into heat, wasting electricity. These lights fail quickly, so they also hurt your pocket with frequent replacements.

Fortunately, you can swap these inefficient bulbs with LEDs to start spending less on artificial lighting.  These lights caught on in the previous decade thanks to successful information drives.

In 2020, 47% of American homes used LEDs for most or all their indoor lighting needs — up from 4% in 2015. Even the federal government banks on LED lighting to meet its 2050 goal of net-zero operational emissions.

Listen to Your Energy Bills

Utility bills tell a story about a house’s energy inefficiency, resulting in an unhappy ending. Make the necessary upgrades to conserve energy without changing your lifestyle if you think you’re paying more than you should. You’ll be pleased with the results.

Baterías con premio en la gran feria europea del almacenamiento de energía
El jurado de la feria ees (la gran feria europea de las baterías y los sistemas acumuladores de energía) ya ha seleccionado los productos y soluciones innovadoras que aspiran, como finalistas, al gran premio ees 2021. Independientemente de cuál o cuáles sean las candidaturas ganadoras, la sola inclusión en este exquisito grupo VIP constituye todo un éxito para las empresas. A continuación, los diez finalistas 2021 de los ees Award (ees es una de las cuatro ferias que integran el gran evento anual europeo del sector de la energía, The smarter E).