The first step in making your home on business an energy efficient, solar powered structure
is to reduce your energy consumption as much as possible. Instead of using megawatts of electricity
per year to power, heat and cool your home, try to find ways to generate more "negawatts".
A negawatt represents every watt of electricity that you do not have to use by cooling off
your attic's air temperature,
weatherizing your home, installing energy star appliances and by turning off or unplugging
devices that waste energy while you are sleeping or away at work. Everybody likes to save money
on monthly utility bills, right?
An easy way to see if your home is above or below the industry average, you should perform
a home energy audit to see how your home's energy consumption compares to other homes. You can
pay for a very thorough energy audit by hiring a professional Home Energy Rating System (HERS)
Company or you can perform your own free analysis by using an online home energy audit tool.
Simply Google Search for
"Home Energy Yardstick" or
"Home Energy Audits" and you will find plenty of online tools that will quiz
you about your energy usage, appliances, and types of energy used, and then
provide a customized report on how your home compares to other homes in your area.
There are many simple ways to reduce energy consumption in order to
save money on monthly utility bills. Once you start saving money, then you can
afford to spend it on something smart such as a solar water heater, which will heat
your home's water for free, and/or solar photovoltaic (PV)
power system, which produces free electricity, that will save you even more money.
Radiant heat travels at the speed of light until one of two things happens:
The heat (energy) is either absorbed or reflected. A roof usually absorbs
most of this radiant energy and can easily reach 165º on hot, sunny days. This heat is
then re-radiated in all directions. Since this heat has to go somewhere, your attic
is quickly turned into a furnace, which heats up everything inside your attic such
as your air conditioner's cooling unit and your home's attic insulation on your ceiling.
Having the highest SEER-rated insulation you can afford is a good thing, but all
insulation eventually heats up and retains heat similar to a hot blanket that
heats the ceiling of every room in your house.
The simplest way to keep your attic and its insulation cool is to install
radiant barrier reflective materials, which will redirect the sun's
energy back into the atmosphere. Studies have shown that roof temps only go
up between 2-10º on roofs with radiant barrier installed on the joists and rafters.
The second step is to install a solar attic fan, which produces its own free electricity
to spin a fan that draws out the super-heated air in your attic and replaces it with cooler air from
Using radiant barriers to deflect the sun's energy from entering your attic combined
with a solar attic fan that continuously pulls cooler air into your attic should save
you up to 10 to 17% on your home electricity bills!
Removing as much heat as possible from the attic will make a big difference on
a building's air conditioning requirements. The less that the air inside your attic has
a chance to heat up, the less money you
will have to spend to cool it back down to keep your house at a comfortable temperature
all year long.
Cooling your attic and sealing up the building's energy envelope is half the job.
Weatherizing a home with new windows, doors, and weather stripping and can also prevent
cool air from seeping out of the house and heat from seeping in. In either case, performing
an infra-red thermal scan is the best way to find potential energy leaks and insulate them.
On the inside of the house there are lots of create ways to save energy. Old appliances,
battery chargers and electronics such as plasma TVs and office equipment are notorious for
consuming lots of electricity even when they are turned off.
One fun exercise that you can use to teach the family how to conserve energy is to buy a $45
meter. This device allows you to program the electricity rates for on-peak and
off-peak electricity usage.
You and your family can use this device to see how much electricity all the devices plugged into your
home's electric outlets are using and what the related on peak/off peak costs are. You simply
go to each electrical outlet in your house. Plug the Kill-A-Watt monitor into the wall and then
plug lights, electronics and appliances into the Kill-A-Watt device for one hour. Monitor devices
for one hour while turned on and one hour while turned off. The Kill-A-Wall monitor will tell you
how much electricity it used and what the cost is to power that device.
You will be shocked to see how much energy that plasma TV or home office equipment is using,
even when everything is turned off. Suddenly you will see why it makes good sense to turn off
lights and and unplug all electronic equipment when it is not in use.
A quick way to solve this problem is to buy a "Smart Power Strip."
Smart power strips have one main control plug that turns off everything plugged
into the strip when the main device is turned off.
If want to go one step further, you can buy an
automated home energy management system that turns everything off
when your family is sleeping or away from home during the day, including your hot water heater.