An energy-efficient home is one that’s more affordable to run, reducing your household’s energy bills and carbon footprint. Many homeowners in Contra Costa Country and throughout California are seeking smarter ways to optimize their home’s energy usage, especially as fall sets in.
By adopting a whole-home approach to energy efficiency during your next remodel, you can ensure you save money in the long term and live a greener, more sustainable lifestyle. This article explores some of the ways you can achieve these goals.
Consider a Home Energy Assessment
Rising home energy costs can significantly impact your finances, especially when you rely on your AC during the hot summers or heaters in the colder winters. This is where a home energy assessment or audit can help.
An energy assessment, performed by a professional, gauges your home’s energy efficiency, pinpoints potential areas of improvement, and can range from preliminary walk-throughs to comprehensive analyses.
The assessment results in tailored recommendations that can be as straightforward as sealing drafts or as advanced as efficiency-driven renovations. The initial investment, though it may potentially seem expensive, paves the way for long-term savings on your energy bills, making your home a comfortable and eco-friendly sanctuary long into the future.
Harness the Sun with Solar Energy
Solar energy is a trend that keeps growing, and for good reason. It’s a powerful solution for homeowners aiming to cut energy costs, enhance property value, and leave a smaller impact on the planet’s health.
The incredible science behind solar panels is their ability to transform the sun’s rays into electricity or hot water. Photons from sunlight get captured by the panels, turning into direct current (DC). An inverter then changes this DC into the alternating current (AC) we use daily.
This means that all those sunny California days can store enough energy to offset energy usage in the home, thereby reducing overall energy consumption. In fact, the state as a whole hopes to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions from electricity by 2045.
Home Insulation and Air Sealing
A comfortable home environment, especially in California, hinges on efficient insulation and air sealing. Together, these regulate internal temperatures and reduce energy consumption.
Insulation, crucial for maintaining desired temperatures, is measured by its R-value—a metric detailing its resistance to heat flow. Aim for R-values of R-30 in ceilings, R-11 in walls, and R-19 in floors to ensure optimal insulation. Additionally, insulating older water heater tanks can lead to up to a 10% reduction in water heating expenses.
Meanwhile, air sealing is indispensable for minimizing unwanted drafts and leakage from doors, windows, and walls. Effective sealing eradicates these energy drains, ensuring your heating and cooling systems operate efficiently and you enjoy consistent comfort indoors.
Home heating, particularly in colder months, can dominate your energy expenses. For homeowners in Contra Costa County with natural gas furnaces or electric heating, this cost often claims over half of their respective bills.
However, with regular maintenance and minor modifications, you can significantly cut down these expenditures – by nearly 30% in some instances.
For instance, lowering the thermostat by just five degrees could reduce costs by 10%. Beyond thermostat adjustments, optimizing heating efficiency includes routine filter replacements, ensuring radiators and heaters remain unobstructed, and effectively managing exhaust fans.
You can also increase warmth in your home by opening draperies and shades on your sun-facing windows during the day to let sunlight into your home before closing them at night to retain the heat.
California has one of the highest proportions of residential homes equipped with air conditioners in the country – 72% according to 2020 figures. This significantly impacts the state’s overall electricity consumption and carbon emissions (air conditioners use about 4% of all electricity produced in California).
Adopting an ENERGY STAR® high-efficiency air conditioner can be an eco-conscious move, potentially making you eligible for rebates.
You can also enhance your system’s cooling efficiency further by routinely cleaning and replacing AC filters and leveraging programmable thermostats for potential 10% annual savings. Integrating ceiling fans, insulating attics, and sealing openings all help keep the home interior cooler in the sizzling summers.
Plus, simple changes like using outdoor grills during heatwaves and investing in energy-efficient window coverings can maintain comfortable indoor temperatures while minimizing energy use.
Home Water Heating
Water heating accounts for approximately 18% to 25% of a home’s energy expenditure. For the average American family, this translates to an annual expense of $400 to $600. Improving the energy efficiency of your home’s water heating system can lead to substantial savings.
To ensure you have enough hot water for the household, consider a water heater’s life span and optimal size based on peak-hour hot water demand.
Further practical ways to reduce costs include:
- Minimizing hot water use
- Embracing low-flow fixtures
- Opting for efficient models
- Setting thermostats at 120°F
Like with all home fixtures, regular maintenance and fixing problems promptly can also ensure prolonged efficiency.
When it comes to home appliances and energy efficiency, not all products are created equal. Choosing the right appliances matters a lot, and that’s why many homeowners select ENERGY STAR® products that have been independently certified to save energy without sacrificing features, performance, or functionality.
This makes them highly cost-effective, as less energy is used when they are in operation.
ENERGY STAR® appliances – marked with a special label – include washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, and even air purifiers and dehumidifiers that work a lot smarter than previous versions.
Illuminating your home in the US accounts for approximately 5% of your energy expenditure. But by upgrading five of your most-used light fixtures to ENERGY STAR®-certified bulbs, you can save up to $75 annually.
LEDs are considered the pinnacle of current lighting technology, with LED bulbs using up to 75% less energy than traditional bulbs. Not only do these bulbs last substantially longer than their incandescent counterparts, but they also offer a variety of colors and brightness levels to suit every need.
These durable and versatile LEDs are perfect for both indoor and outdoor use, especially with ENERGY STAR®-certified fixtures equipped with modern features like motion sensors.
Consider an Energy Management Tool
Harnessing the power of Energy Management Tools (EMTs) can lead to a more energy-efficient and cost-effective household. From intelligent thermostats that adjust based on your preferences to online platforms that track and optimize energy use, EMTs offer Californians many ways to conserve energy and cut costs.
By logging into your local energy provider’s account, you can uncover budget assistance, set monthly usage goals, and potentially benefit from rebates.
Additionally, modern innovations such as home area networks (HANs) and programmable thermostats can be seamlessly integrated, setting your Contra Costa home on a path to smarter energy use.
Easy Ways to Save Energy Year-Round
Conserving energy doesn’t require a significant overhaul of your daily habits. Small, mindful actions can lead to substantial savings.
Start by plugging devices into power strips and turning them off when not in use. Similarly, unplug phone chargers once devices are fully charged. Regularly replacing HVAC filters can ensure efficient system operation, while adjusting your water heater can minimize unnecessary energy consumption.
Remember to switch off lights in unoccupied rooms and stock your freezer to optimize its performance. Ensure vents aren’t blocked for seamless airflow, and consider running large appliances in the evening when energy demand is typically lower.
Work with a Residential Design Build Firm like Gayler Design Build
Since 1961, Gayler Design Build has been remodeling homes in California’s Tri-Valley and Lamorinda areas. And we are the only design-build firm with a 23-year unbroken record of on-budget project completions. It’s something we’re incredibly proud of.
As a third-generation, family-owned design-build firm, we want you to be proud of your home renovation. That’s why we work with uncompromised values. It’s how we define our company and what we believe in. So, when you want to remodel your home in Contra Costa County, ready to optimize your home’s energy usage, trust Gayler Design Build.
Learn more about our design-build process and visit our portfolio for inspiring photographs of some of our previous remodeling projects. Then, when you’re ready to discuss remodeling – including home energy efficiency – contact Gayler Design Build at 925-820-0185 for a complimentary consultation. Or use our contact form to schedule your appointment.
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