Swapping out old appliances for new ones is a smart approach to reducing household energy bills. According to the DOE, 70% of a home’s energy consumption goes toward appliances, refrigeration, heating, cooling, and hot water.
The latest Energy Star-qualified appliances typically use one-third less energy than outdated models.The savings can be felt immediately. Trading in a refrigerator manufactured before 1993 will net an annual energy savings of $65, the DOE estimates. Replacing a washing machine made before 2000 with a new Energy Star model can save up to $135 a year. Throw in a rebate, and payback on an investment in a new appliance can come in just a few years.
Let’s say you buy an Energy Star-qualified washing machine for $750, the average price in 2009. Your state offers a $100 rebate on the purchase. Thanks to the $135 you could save annually on utility bills, the payback period could be less than five years. Not bad for an appliance that should last at least a decade.
Check out Appliance Rebate information for IL at the Energystar.gov website:
Sealing and insulating the "envelope" or "shell" of your home — its outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors, and floors — is often the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. A high percentage (20-30%) of the the money you spend to heat your home in the winter and cool your home in the summer might be escaping. One of the best ways to find out if your home is too leaky, too tight, or just right is by doing an energy audit.
I purchased a townhome in 2007. The master bedroom, bath and closet were all above the garage but I was totally unaware of the real problem this can be. Each year, the pipes in the master bedroom either froze and/or burst. Year 1, they froze. The builder pretended to do something to the pipes and THEYbrought out some guys who showed them that my carpeted floor was 50 degrees and the wall in my master closet below my window but ABOVE the heating vent was 34 degrees. They replaced the insulation in the garage's ceiling with a 'brand new' insulation specifically made for rooms over garages. I told them the unit had a design flaw. Year 2, the pipes burst in two places. The builder paid for the plumber and put some insulation in the garage walls and in the attic but I had to pay for everything else. (This includes the damage done to my front door by the police fire dept since it happened while I was out of town. I have great neighbors!) They also froze this year, and I couldn't take it anymore. In addition to being afraid of my pipes bursting again, my master bedroom and closet were really cold. I had theories and contractors willing to do whatever I asked in this economy, but I decided to find out what the problem was by someone who actually knew what they were doing. I needed some type of audit or assessment of what the problems were. They talked to me over the phone at length, and I really appreciated that. They came to my house and did an audit which took about 2.5 hours. They were ALL over the house -- especially in the attic and garage. They used infrared cameras. They also turned off my heat and pilot lights, opened my front door and put a 'fake' door with a fan in the middle of it. They were trying to suck out the air to create a type of vacuum to find areas of infiltration. I have 3 floors. They then wrote a lengthy audit. This cost $400. With this audit, I could either have them do the work or have someone else do it. I was so happy with them, I had them do the work. They did the following: ATTIC: They sealed the "top plate" with that foam stuff to prevent cold air from the attic from getting to the pipes. The builder had put the insulation next to the drywall (preventing any heat from getting to them from the house) so the pipes were not protected nor allowed to get any heat. When the pipes froze, the plumber expressed concern re: the cold air he felt. GARAGE: (1) They sealed the gap in the garage where the floor meets the drywall. (2) They insulated the walls at my insistence. BASEMENT: Sealed the rim joists in the front and back of the townhouse. The idea was to stop cold air from getting in from the garage and attic. The builder had done some similar work in the garage and attic after the pipes froze but they didn't do very much.
Did you know that icicles hanging from your home may mean that heat is escaping from your roof? When hot air rises and your attic is not properly insulated, the hot air melts the snow near the peak of the roof. The melted snow runs away from the heat and freezes towards the end of the roof or gutter. If this is happening to your home you may need insulation or air sealing.
We will be posting stories from energy audits performed in the Chicagoland area. We think that many people will relate to some of the problems that our customers were experiencing before we performed our Energy Audit. We will share what we found and what was done to resolve the issues.