Energy Efficiency – Every Little Bit Helps
Dependence on foreign oil is a critical concern, but it is not a problem that can be solved in isolation. We have to think about energy as a whole, and improving energy efficiency is a critical part of the equation.
More than 120 million homes and 70 billion square feet of commercial buildings in the United States account for about 40 percent of the total energy consumed and in excess of 70 percent of the electricity used in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Alliance to Save Energy. That is more than industry or the transportation sector.
Energy use is expected to grow 35 percent by 2025. With over 80 million U.S. homes under-insulated, there is a great and immediate need to make the nation's buildings more energy efficient.
Making Your Home More Energy Efficient
There are a number of ways to reduce your energy usage – and energy costs – but one of the most effective is making sure your home is properly insulated. That one, easy step can help save you up to 20 percent on heating and cooling energy related bills per year. If your home was built before 1990, it probably needs more insulation.
In addition, energy efficiency home improvement upgrades may qualify for a tax credit of up to $1,500.
Owens Corning – which has been a valued partner in the Pickens Plan – has useful information on how to make sure your home is properly insulated, including a tool on its website which will allow you see how much you can save. You can try it out for yourself by visiting the Home Insulation Savings Calculator.
On that same page you can click useful links from videos for DIYers, resources to find a local contractor, to a checklist of questions to ask your contractor or builder.
Whether you live in the northern section of the United States where heating for winter is a major expense, or you live in the South where the need to conserve cooled air is a year-round issue, this is a good time to go up to your attic and see if your insulation meets today's recommendations. A good rule of thumb – if you can see the wood beams (joists) in your attic, you definitely don't have enough insulation.
Know Your R-Value
Insulation is rated in terms of thermal resistance, called R-value, which indicates the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness.
The R-value of thermal insulation depends on the type of material, its thickness, and density. In calculating the R-value of a multi-layered installation, the R-values of the individual layers are added. Installing more insulation in your home increases R-value and the resistance to heat flow.
Click here for a Homeowner's Guide to insulation. It contains many ideas for improving the comfort and energy savings of your home.