GOING GREEN – Reap big home energy savings now and later

Margaret-MalsamBaby, it’s been cold outside and home energy bills in Colorado are skyrocketing.  Have you ever checked to see how much insulation is in your attic?  Have you ever felt cold breezes coming around your single-pane windows?  Have you considered replacing your outdated heating and cooling equipment? 

If your insulation, windows, heating and air conditioning equipment are not up-to-date, you may be wasting valuable green energy and running up big utility bills. Here’s how you can be really green and enjoy more comfort while saving some big bucks.

Insulation and windows

Many times you may want to choose greener options to help our environment but it may cost you money that is hard to recapture. This is one option that can save you 20-30 percent on your utility bills, depending on the climate in your area and the age and construction of your house. Older homes reap a great percentage of savings because energy was cheaper then, and there was not so much awareness of a need protect our environment.

If your home was built before 1970, replacing old and thin insulation with a foot of safe, efficient fiberglass installation can reap a boatload on year-round energy savings.  In the winter, the insulation resists the cold air to save on your heating bills, and in the summer, the same insulation keeps your cold air in to save on your electric cooling bills.

The reason older homes need insulation: Only about 4 to 5 inches of insulation was installed in typical pre-1970 homes.  Now the standard amount of insulation is about 15-16 inches, according to construction codes that vary by area and climate.

Furthermore, Colorado’s brick homes built in the early 1900s may not have any insulation. Why?  Most of these homes had outside brick walls with touching inside cement-like masonry walls that left no room for insulation.

In addition to great savings on your utility bills now, you may recapture and even earn money on your investment when you sell your home, according to Realtor.com. That’s right, for every $100 spent invested for insulating your attic and/or walls, you can recapture about $117 when you sell your home because our home then is worth that much more. Mathematically that is a recoup of all your insulation costs, plus an additional 17 percent.

Window replacement

For a typical home built before 1970, replacing single-pane windows that have steel or aluminum casing with double-pane windows with modern plastic composition or wood casing can save you big bucks.  For more energy savings, replace large single-pane picture windows with new resistance-coated double-pane windows.

Replacing outdated heating and cooling systems

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you really should replace it with a gas-burning log unit.  Burning wood creates lots of toxic waste in the environment and is forbidden in many places.

Older forced air furnaces were not equipped with efficient gas burning units or electric fans to force the air efficiently through ducts.   Consider shopping for a new furnace to save both gas and electricity.

Evaporative swamp coolers, which blow water vapors through vents and filters, are very efficient ways of cooling your home in Colorado because of its dry air.  In high humidity climates, they put too much moisture into your home. Air conditioners also have become more energy efficient in their use of electricity in recent years.

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