How to Make Your Home an Ideal Energy Home

What is an Ideal Energy Home? Why would you want your house to be one.

You've got to admit, when it comes to the energy we use in our homes, it's pretty easy to feel uninformed. Oh, sure, there are the gems of wisdom society has handed down. Little tips like, "Shut off the light when you leave a room." "Don't stand there with the refrigerator open." And, "Keep the thermostat at 68 degrees". With the exception of this kind of information, the vast majority of us have never been given the facts we need to control and effectively manage our energy usage.

That's why Public Service Company wants you to have this information. It can help you turn your house into an Ideal Energy Home.

You could say an Ideal Energy Home is like an energy savings account. By making your home more efficient (we'll show you how), you save energy. This energy can then be "spent" in other areas of your home - to make the temperature more comfortable, to run convenience type appliances, to power security lighting - or just to lower your monthly bill.

It's totally up to you. The bottom line is, once you've read the information that follows, you'll be the energy expert. And that means, when it comes to managing and controlling energy usage, you - and your home - will be ideal.

The Ideal Energy Home Symbol - the Energy Management Seal of Approval.

To help you effectively manage you energy usage, we've developed the Ideal Energy Home symbol. This red tag lets you kjow immediately that a product or service has met standards set by Public Service Company in one or more of the following Ideal Energy more of the following Ideal Energy Home areas: energy efficiency, convenience, comfort and security.

This symbol can help you make decisions when you shop for energy management services (such as companies that provide insulation and weather-stripping), energy efficient appliances, security lighting and even new homes. So you'll have a head start toward making your house as efficient, convenient, comfortable and secure as possible.

To What Degree are You Controlling Home Heating Costs?

Answer this simple question. What percentage of your monthly utility bill is for heating your home? What did you come up with? 70%, 80%, more?

Well, surprise, only around 57% of every bill is for the energy you use to heat your home. Now, on the one hand, this figure says that it costs a lot less to heat your home than you may have thought. On the other, it offers a great opportunity to make a deposit in your energy savings account.

Remember, one of the four Ideal Energy Home choices is efficiency. And a great way to make your home more efficient is to help it hold on to more of the heat your furnace creates. There are three good ways to do that: insulation, caulking and weather-stripping.

Very simply stated, insulation reduces the loss of heat through walls, ceilings and floors. You could look at insulation as a sweater for your house. But just like your body, your house needs a sweater of insulation that's thick enough to do the job. To know how much insulation is enough, you need to understand the R-factor.

Basically the R-factor is a measurement of how well a particular insulation resists the flow of heat. The higher the number, the more heat your home holds on to. So, what's the right R-factor for your home? Look at the chart below, showing the ideal R-Factor ratings for Hilldale Pines.

Recommended R-Factors for insulation in Mountain Areas:

Ceilings R-38
Walls R-13
Floors Over Unheated Areas R-19

Okay, now that you've got the walls, ceilings and floors taken care of your need to deal with the windows, doors and a few other areas. For that, you need caulking and weather-stripping.

The good news is, both these methods are relatively inexpensive and if you're handy, you can do them yourself and save even more. Plus, caulking and weather-stripping will usually pay for themselves in energy savings within a year.

As a general rule, caulk should be applied wherever two different building materials meet on the interior and exterior of your home. Use the following list as a starting point.

Around door and window frames, mail chutes, air conditioners and vents or fans - inside and out

  • Wherever brick and wood siding meet
  • Where dryer vents pass through walls
  • Cracks in bricks, siding, stucco and foundation

Weather-stripping is similar to caulking because your goal is to keep heat from leaving and cold air from entering (just the opposite in summer). You should use weather-stripping to seal joints between surfaces, like the frame and moving parts of doors and windows to form an airtight, energy-saving seal (be careful no to completely seal your home since you need circulation to keep the furnace operating properly).

Once your house is properly insulated, caulked and weather-stripped, you've already taken a big step toward making your house and Ideal Energy Home. Your home is holding on to more of its heat and your energy saving s account is growing.

Now that you know how much of your bill is for heating your home, lets look at what that works out to in dollars. In other words, what does it cost to take control over another Ideal Energy Home choice - comfort.

How Does Energy Usage Apply to Your Appliance?

Here's a little quiz. Which costs more - baking a potato in the oven or the microwave? Surprise, it's five times cheaper in the microwave. The point is, to become a better energy manager, you need information on what it costs to run your appliances. Once you know, you can make informed choices about your appliances.

And when it comes to getting the most from your appliances dollar, natural gas appliances are best. There's an abundant supply of this valuable resource, and plenty of pipelines (with more being built all the time) to bring natural gas into your home.

So don't forget the efficiency, comfort and convenience that a gas dryer, fireplace or furnace can offer. Of course, as with any large investment, you're probably interested in what your initial cost will b e and how fast your energy savings will pay you back (you also want to know whether it would be cost efficient to change things at all).

For the purpose of our discussion, there are three types of furnaces defined as follows.

Standard Efficiency (65% efficient)

These conventional heating systems typically lose heated air from the house up an open stack when the furnace is operating as well as when its off. They also havfe a continuously burning pilot light.

Medium Efficiency (86% efficient)

Referred to as recuperative or induced draft furnaces. In these furnaces, hot glue gases are drawn through a heat exchanger and vented into the atmosphere by a small fan. Efficiency is increased because additional usable heat is captured through this process.

High Efficiency (94% efficient)

The highest efficiencies are obtained by heating systems that reduce losses during heating cycles and capture heat from the flue gases. Therse systems oftenb use a very efficient method of combustion which virtually eliminates all cycling losses.

Now that we've talked about furnaces, let's cover what it costs to operate the other appliances in your home. The following chart has some of the answers. The information is based on an energy cost of $.07 per kilowatt hour (this is what Public Service Charges). Wherever you see a dash, that leans the cost for running this appliance for the time period indicated in les than a penny.

The Ideal Energy Home - A Foundation to Build On

We hope you find the information we've provided extremely helpful as you strive to become a better energy manager. We also hope you'll see this as just the beginning.

After all, new information about energy and its uses is becoming available all the time. There are new appliances, new conveniences and new ways to use energy that we'd like to help you stay on top of.

So be sure to call if you need any additional information about how to make your house an Ideal Energy Home. And from all of us at Public Service, thank you for getting more involved in your home's energy usage.