Energy saving tips for 2018 – New and old homes

Whether building a new home, or updating an older one, there are several ways to save money on your energy bills as I continue to learn. What was effective in say 2010 may still be relevant today, but the Green Energy industry continues to evolve as we enter 2018. New processes as well as technology continue to come into play.

As we have reported on the demand for skilled trade jobs, much of the energy conservation work is done by vocational type positions. This ranges from people who work on installing solar panels to windmills or those individuals who enter a home to update it. In fact, the Green Energy industry is one of the fastest growing in the nation with about 300,000 jobs added in 2017 per the DOE.

Some of the relevant 2018 energy saving suggestions

The exterior of house I am building has been completed, but the interior construction is still ongoing. This provides an opportunity to save some energy on the work being done, including appliances, and much of this would apply to someone updating an existing home as well. Some builders are more flexible that others (I wish mine was!), but you should always be sure to ask no matter what.

Always use energy efficient appliances when adding or replacing dishwashers, washing machines, or other appliances. Look for the ENERY STAR label. There are more appliances on the market in 2018 that are energy efficient, and even low flow toilets or sinks can be used. While the up-front cost may be slightly higher, the ENERGY STAR units can cut back on your monthly utility bills by 30% or more. Replacing older units, such as refrigerators, can save families hundreds of dollars per year. Use ENERGY EFFICIENT Lighting fixtures as well.

If building a new home, ask the builder about the HERS score (Home Energy Rating System). The lower the rating, the less energy it takes to run it and the more you save each month on your utility bills. Some new homes built in 2018 are even Energy Start certified for the amount of money they save, if the water system is integrated, it passes energy inspections, etc. There are builders who also focus on energy star homes in 2018, and if it meets the criteria’s they use 30% less electricity which translates to lower utility bills.

All new or updated homes should have programmable thermostats. This may be the easiest, most cost effective tip to save money in 2018. They cost maybe $50 at a store and can save money on heating and energy bills upwards of $100 per year. If you have an older home, and do not know how to do this, then this is when an electrician or someone with a vocational background can often help.

In a new home, install storm doors for extra insulation. Use the proper insulation in balance of home as well, including at minimum R-30 for the attic, R-19 for floors and R-13 for walls. When installing landscaping for a new home on a new lot, use trees, shrubs, etc. for natural shade and insulation as well.

Maybe the best thing to do is talk to your utility company for an audit. As we enter 2018, almost every single utility provider will have a technician(s) that can stop by your home. They run an audit of it, using diagnostic equipment to check for airflow, leaks, review appliances, and more. The technician will give free suggestions, for free, on what you can do to save money on your utility bills. The service is always free and there are no commitments.

If for some reason your utility company does not offer this, call your local state or county office and inquire into suggesstions they have. Use the federal government Department of Energy (DOE) website to find an audit, or if your income is low enough, then apply for weatherization. This is a free government program that will invest thousands of dollars into your home, with all the money going towards reducing utility bills.

There are really dozens of things to do to save money on new and older homes. The above list is just a sampling. One great resource to find more tips is the energystar.gov website. But saving money on utility bills is “low-hanging fruit”, meaning it is often quick, cheap and simple to do whether you are low income or not. Heck, even just turn off the lights when leaving a room or turn down the heat a few degrees when leaving the home for the work-day. Much of this stuff is simple.

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