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Modesto, CA Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

Modesto, CA Home Improvement Guide


Energy Efficiency
Energy Conservation Services & Products; Energy Management Conservation Consultants; Solar Energy Contractors

Creating an energy efficient home saves you hundreds of dollars each year on utility bills. The average American spends $2,300 a year on energy bills. Maximizing the energy efficiency in your home can significantly reduce that amount while improving comfort and saving the environment. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the amount of energy your home currently uses. Whether you are looking to improve what you currently have or ensure the replacement materials used in the remodel provide energy efficiency, research what areas of the home use the most energy and how to improve them.

Simple, inexpensive measures can be taken to start improving the energy efficiency of your home. Focusing on areas that require the most amount of energy is a good place to start. This includes the heating and cooling system, water heaters, appliances, lighting and electronics. If building a home or remodeling a room, discuss energy efficiency with your contractor and make sure improvements follow energy efficiency guidelines. This will maximize the value of the improvement and save additional dollars in the long term.


Home Energy Audits
Energy Mgmt & Conservation Consultants; Electric Companies

Establishing an energy efficient home begins with a home energy audit. This evaluates how much energy is currently being used and what improvements can be made to make it more efficient. A simple audit can be done yourself or an audit can be performed by a professional.

Do-It-Yourself Audits
Determine the current efficiency of your home by reviewing your utility bills over the last 12 months. If you no longer have the bills, a summary can be obtained through your utility company. Analyze the usage per month and calculate an average for the higher usage months during summer and winter. Discuss these averages with close neighbors to establish a guideline of what is typical for your neighborhood. If your bills are significantly higher, this is a good indication that your home is not running efficiently. If you recently purchased your home, ask the previous owner about the cost of standard utility bills and compare the amounts. Again, if your bills are higher, inefficiencies are occurring.

A quick audit can also be performed here. This program compares your utility bill costs over the last 12 months with similar homes across the county. It also provides energy-saving recommendations based on the results.

Professional Audit
For a more in-depth review of your home’s efficiency or to receive a recommendation on how to make your home more efficient, consider a professional audit. A Home Energy Auditor uses a variety of techniques and equipment to measure the overall efficiency of the home. Equipment tests discover problems and the auditor will provide a recommendation on how to improve efficiencies and seal up troubled areas.

Home Energy Auditors can be found by contacting your utility company to verify if they offer free or discounted audits for their customers. If they do not, a list of auditors can be found through the US Department of Energy or at www.energystar.org – Home Energy Rater. Many private contractors specializing in energy efficiency also perform audits. Find one in your local area by visiting the Energy Management & Conservation Consultants heading at MyYP.com.

Performing an audit is only the first step. To start actually saving energy, recommendations need to be implemented. Make the most of the audit by taking the necessary steps to rectify problems and begin enjoying the benefits of a comfortable home and a lighter pocketbook.


Heating and Cooling
Air Conditioning Contractors; Air Duct & Vent Cleaning; Heating Contractors; Furnaces Heating

As the largest energy expense in the home, half of the amount paid in utility bills is due to heating and cooling. Focusing attention toward maximizing the efficiency of furnaces and air conditioners provides immediate savings as well as comfort to the home. Follow the steps outlined below to ensure your heating and cooling equipment are operating at maximum efficiency.

Replace Filters:
Change furnace filters regularly to keep the system working cleanly and efficiently. Dirty filters clog the system requiring it to work harder and use more energy. Check filters monthly and replace them once they appear dirty. Filters should be changed at least every 3 months.

Programmable Thermostat
Installing a programmable thermostat reduces energy costs by running the system only when it is needed. The thermostat can be scheduled to turn off while you are at school and work, and turn on again before returning home. Lower temperatures can be set during sleeping hours and then increased prior to waking for the day. This keeps energy costs low, saving an average of $180 per year, while maintaining maximum comfort levels.

Sealing Ducts
Holes and cracks in the duct work that carries air throughout the house are often one of the biggest energy wasters. Simply sealing these leaks can increase efficiency by 20% or more. Begin by focusing on ducts in the attic, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages. These ducts are often out of sight and sometimes ignored. Seal seams and connections, as well as any leaks using duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed tape. Wrapping the ducts in insulation maximizes efficiency by keeping ducts cooler in the summer and warmer during the winter.

Schedule a Tune-Up
Invite a heating and cooling contractor to your home to perform a tune-up on the system. Scheduling a yearly tune-up ensures it is running optimally and energy efficiency is maximized.

Consider a New System
Depending on the age of your system, replacing it with an energy efficient unit can save money in the long term. If your system is more than 10 years old, you could be paying significantly more to run it and still not enjoy comfortable temperatures. Installing a new energy efficient system allows you to take advantage of recent advancements while lowering your energy bill by $200 per year. Have a professional HVAC contractor review your system and determine if an upgrade is recommended.


Water Heaters
Water Heaters Dealers; Water Heaters Repair & Service; Plumbing Contractors; Plumbing Fixtures & Supplies New Dealers

As water heaters are constantly working to provide hot water, they represent a significant portion of the energy bill. Many homes have outdated water heater models that provide a limited amount of efficiency. Current technology advancements significantly increase water heater efficiencies which can cut costs in half. As water heaters last on average 10-15 years, replacing one is inevitable. Learn what technologies are currently available to make buying one easier and discover which models provide the most savings on your energy bill.

High-Efficient Gas
As a more energy efficient version of the standard gas water heater, this model features improved insulation, heat traps and burners. Due to the new improvements, the initial cost is slightly higher but a new energy efficient water heater will save you $30 a year, $360 over a 12-year lifetime. Look for the ENERGY STAR logo to ensure it incorporates these advanced technologies.

Tankless Water Heaters
Eliminate the need to have the water heater continuously working to keep water hot by installing a tankless water heater. Tankless water heaters heat only the water that is needed, saving the average family over $100 per year. Cold showers are a thing of the past as these water heaters heat water on demand and maintain a continual flow. Much smaller in size, it also frees up closet space or can be mounted in attics or outside for optimal space conservation. Tankless water heaters have a life expectancy of 20 years, providing almost double the life expectancy of a standard ~ Headings Plumbing-Fixtures-Supplies-New-Dealers=gas water heater ~].

Solar Water Heaters
Using the sun to heat the water, solar water heaters not only save money, they save the environment. Average yearly savings ranges from $190 using a gas-water heater back-up or $250 a year with a tankless water heater. Solar water heaters cost more initially and pay for themselves after 10 years. Federal tax credits make this model more affordable and a longer life expectancy provides energy efficiency for 20 years.

Heat Pump Water Heater
New to the market, this model saves the average home up to $300 on their energy bill versus a standard electric water heater. Using one-third the amount of electricity as a standard electric water heater, this unit uses heat from the air to heat the water while pushing out cooler air. The total saved energy of this unit reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emission making it safer for the environment as well. Expect to pay a higher cost initially for this unit but it will pay for itself in 3 or 4 years.


Lighting
Lighting Fixtures Retail; Lighting Designers Consultants; Lighting Fixtures, Installation, Maintenance & Repairing; Electric-Contractors

A few easy changes can significantly reduce the amount of energy and money spent to keep the lights on. As lighting represents 20% of the electric bill, employing these easy changes saves immediately on the monthly bill and longer term as energy efficient lighting has a significantly longer life.

Swapping out incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR fluorescent light bulbs saves $30 per bulb. Fluorescent bulbs conserve 75% more energy and last 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. After 6 months, each bulb pays for itself. Save additional energy by installing ENERGY STAR qualified fluorescent and LED light fixtures. Initially, these light fixtures cost more to install but pay for themselves over time. With a combination of qualified light fixtures and bulbs, over $170 is saved every year. ENERGY STAR approved lighting also provides enhanced comfort remaining 75% cooler than incandescent lighting. Holiday decorating can save additional money and energy by using light strings that include the ENERGY STAR logo.

A variety of ceiling fans are ENERGY STAR qualified and provide 50% greater efficiency than standard ceiling fans. On average this saves $15 per year. Save additional energy using ceiling fans to help provide higher climate efficiency in the summer and winter months. Rotating the blades in a counterclockwise motion during the summer months keeps air moving which makes a room feel cooler. This allows you to raise the temperature of the thermostat to save energy. In winter months, reverse the motion of the blades to rotate clockwise, at the lowest speed to push warm air down, keeping rooms warmer. Thermostats set a few degrees cooler offers additional savings during winter months.


Electrionics
Electronic Equip & Supplies Dealers; Stereo, Audio & Video Equipment; Television Dealers Retail; Television Repair & Services; Department Stores

Consumer electronics represent 15% of a home’s energy bill. Even when not in use, home electronics continue to use energy. Electronics that display time or use remotes will continue to be on in a stand-by mode. Ensuring these products have the ENERGY STAR logos make them more energy efficient and can save money. More efficient electronics save 30-60% more energy and with typical homes having multiple TVs, cell phones, DVD players, and other electronics, this represents a significant savings over time. Instead of a traditional on and off mode, energy efficient electronics provide a low power sleep mode that uses less energy.

Manufacturers, retailers, and electronic engineers are working together to ensure consumer electronics are doing more to protect the environment and pocketbooks. The industry is working hard to provide consumers the energy efficiency they demand while continuing to provide expected product quality, features and performance.


Appliances
Appliances Major Dealers & Service

A recognizable feature on new appliances is the yellow EnergyGuide sticker. This resource provides valuable information regarding how much energy is used by the appliance compared to similar products, as well as the average operating cost per year. Manufacturers are required to run standard tests developed by the US Department of Energy to determine these operation costs. This allows consumers to make more informed decisions and learn what appliance is more energy efficient.

Selecting appliances that have the ENERGY STAR symbol provides an average savings of $75 per year. Appliances featuring this symbol use 10-50% less energy and water and cost a bit extra as well. However, the long term energy efficiency savings garnered by the appliance is worth the premium. Look for this symbol on clothes washers, dehumidifiers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, room air conditioners and room air cleaners. The US Department of Energy and Federal Trade Commission can also provide information on how to purchase energy efficient appliances and how they can lower your energy bill online at: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/homes/rea07.shtm.


Windows and Doors
Windows; Metal & Aluminum Windows; Vinyl Windows; Wood Windows; Window Repair & Installation; Doors & Door Frames

Save additional energy and dollars by preventing heating and cooling from escaping through windows and doors. Many homes have older doors and windows that have warped with age, or weather stripping that has become worn. Sealing up these areas significantly helps maintain the temperature of the home and saves money from escaping through the cracks.

Major advancements have occurred with windows and doors in recent years to make them more energy efficient. Replacement windows offer double and triple glazes which increase insulation. Storm windows placed on the interior or exterior of the home offer addition insulation, keeping air from escaping. If replacing them for more advance models in not in the budget, increase the efficiency of existing windows by sealing seams from the inside and ensuring they have adequate coverings to keep them insulated. Shutters, shades, blinds, curtains, or drapes prevent air from escaping, keeping rooms cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Replacing worn weather stripping and caulking around loose door jams seals off cracks and keeps air from escaping.


Insulation
Insulation Contractors; Insulation Materials Cold & Heat Retail

Ensuring your home is properly insulated keeps valuable air from escaping through the walls and attic. Perform an inspection of the attic to determine if the current insulation is adequate. Insulation levels should rise slightly above the floor joists. If they are even or lower than the joists, additional insulation is required. While in the attic, inspect for leaks or pest problems that can damage the insulation and resolve these issues before installing additional insulation.

Maximize the performance of the insulation by sealing all air escapes such as ducts, windows and doors. These areas create an outer envelope sealing to your home which significantly cuts your energy bills and increases efficiency. Focusing solely on the inner elements of the house will do little to increase efficiency if it is quickly escaping. Maximize your home’s efficiency by developing an energy efficient strategy that leverages both the outer and interior areas of the home. While the entire project may require a significant budget, costs saved in energy bills can quickly pay for the project. Tackle each element one at a time, starting with the outer envelope of the home and savings earned can pay for additional energy efficient projects.


Additional Efficiencies
Building Materials; Home Improvements

Simple efforts also provide energy saving opportunities and keep money from being wasted. Turning off lights when leaving a room, lowering the thermostat one or two degrees in the winter and maintaining a water heater level of 120 degrees cuts down on the amount of daily energy usage. Over months, this can lower energy bills and place more money in your pocket. Reduce water consumption by installing low-yield shower heads, low-flow toilets, and energy efficient dishwashers. These efficiencies can save hundreds of gallons of water a month, reducing utility costs while also protecting the environment.

Hold off running clothes washers, dryers, and dishwashers until late in the evening or early morning. This avoids overtaxing the air conditioner in the summer and heats the home during the winter. Wait to start the clothes washer until a full load of laundry is available. This conserves both energy and water usage.

 
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