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2013-06-22 10:12:00
Saving on your utility bills by thinking green

   Now that summer has begun, things are going to really begin heating up here in Logan, Utah (at least that is the prediction but one can never be too sure in the Cache Valley)! During the summer months many of us are victims of outrageously high utility bills due to the cost of cooling our homes so we thought that we would spend a few minutes giving some tips on how you can make your Cache Valley home more energy efficient. Of course guides for making your home more energy efficient are easy enough to find but most of us do not have enough money to reinsulate our attics, replace our windows, purchase a more efficient cooling system and buy a new furnace at one time (which usually never ends up paying off anyways) so we figured we could give some low cost suggestions (after all the original problem is having to spend too much money) that might make life a little easier for you.

The basic idea of improving energy efficiency is targeting your home's 'envelope'

   What is your home's envelope you might ask? Basically it is any part of your home that is in direct contact with the Cache Valley atmosphere. So this includes your roof and attic, your home's foundation, its windows and doors, and its siding. Since these parts of your home are directly exposed to the weather, looking for ways to reduce the amount of outside air entering in through cracks and spaces will improve energy efficiency and save you money on the cost of cooling your home.

Check weather stripping around doors         

   One inexpensive way to prevent outside air from entering into your home is by checking the weather stripping around all of your doors. After awhile this weather stripping may become cracked or deformed and its ability to block the heat is lowered. If your weather stripping is cracked or if you can see light entering into your home from the edge of your doors it is time to buy some new weather stripping.

Fix gaps in the caulking

   There are many places on the exterior of your home that may or may not have been previously caulked to prevent outside air from entering into your home. Check some of these areas and if the caulking is damaged or missing altogether, it might be time to run down to the hardware store and buy a caulking gun for $10. Some places you will want to check are where pipes enter into your house, where your air conditioning unit enters into your house, around windows, and where there is a change in building material (for example: brick to stucco).

Plant shade trees

   This might not save you too much money this year but some nice bushes or trees that will shade your home will also lower your home's cooling cost and add some beauty to the exterior of your home. This is particularly important when you are living in a new Cache Valley home since many times, newer subdivisions do not yet have mature trees growing. (In some cases a nice shrubbery placed in a strategic location can help prevent the sun from beating down on a window or door as well.)

Once you have improved the 'envelope', move to the interior

   As far as reducing cooling costs, changes made to your home's interior will not reduce costs significantly but there are some other ways you can save money.

Install low flow shower heads

   I once read on a shampoo bottle that said that I likely used 18,000 gallons of water per year showering. That is a TON (literally several tons) of water! That calculation was made off of a 5 gallon per minute shower head and a 10 minute shower. Now think how much water you could save if you switched to a 2.5 gallon per minute shower head even if taking the same length showers (9000 gallons). Then you think about how many people are in your family and you have found a very inexpensive way to save a lot of money and conserve a lot of resources.

Use CFL lights

   Many people believe that the new CFL lights are not worth the extra cost upfront but they definitely are. Your average CFL light lasts for 10,000 use hours and only uses about 27 watts of energy to generate as much light as a 100-watt incandescent bulb. Throughout its lifespan this ends up costing about $22 in electricity (leading to a total cost of around $25 per bulb). With the incandescent bulbs they only last 1,000 use hours so you need to buy 10 of them to cover the same time frame and then they use 3 times as much energy which places the cost to over $80 when all is said and done. (Pretty cool huh?)

Consider an energy audit

   Energy auditors have special skills and tools that they can use to find ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Getting in touch with one of them can help you find out specific ways that your home can become more energy efficient and save you some money in the long run.


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