Wise appliance choices can make a difference in your electric bill
by Miranda Boutelle, Contributing Columnist
Q: I’m planning a remodeling project this year. What energy-efficiency upgrades should I consider?
A: Remodeling is a great opportunity to take care of energy-efficiency improvements by adding them to your scope of work. If your home is already under construction, take the extra step to make it more efficient.
Look at the scope of your remodeling project to see what energy-efficiency upgrades you can add. There may be cost savings and convenience in tackling both at once.
If your kitchen remodel includes new appliances, buy Energy Star-rated models. Energy Star refrigerators are about 9% more efficient than standard models, and Energy Star dishwashers save energy and water.
As for kitchen faucets, there are options available with multiple flow-rate settings. You can save water by using a lower flow rate when washing dishes, vegetables or your hands, but you can change the setting to quickly fill a pot for cooking.
If you plan to remodel your bathroom, include a high-performance showerhead. Look for the WaterSense logo for showerheads, faucets and toilets, which ensures the product meets performance and water use standards.
Check the fine print on your existing equipment to see how much you can save. The gallons-per-minute is usually printed on showerheads and faucet aerators, and the gallons-per-flush is usually printed on toilets.
Our basement has gone from a wide-open space with concrete walls to a nearly completed living space with a den, two bedrooms, a bathroom and a laundry room.
We air-sealed and insulated the sill plate and rim joist — the framing between the concrete foundation and the main level floor. We built and insulated walls around the basement’s perimeter, ensuring a cozy living space and a more comfortable home.
We upgraded our electric storage water heater to a hybrid water heater, which is 70% more efficient than a standard electric model.
Also, we ran power for an electric vehicle charger while the walls were open. It is much less expensive to run the power supply while you have access.
NEW SIDING/EXTERIOR PAINT
The best time to make sure your wall insulation is adequate is when you replace your siding or paint the exterior of your home.
Wall insulation saves on energy costs, makes your home more comfortable and reduces outside noise.
Batt insulation, spray foam or foam board are good options if you are removing the siding. If you are painting, have a contractor blow insulation into the wall cavities through holes cut into the siding or from inside the house.
Whether it’s under-cabinet kitchen lighting or new can lights in the basement, LED options use less energy than incandescent or CFL bulbs.
Often, remodeling requires work in the attic for new lighting or venting bath or kitchen fans. During any project that takes you into the attic, check insulation levels. Work in the attic can negatively impact attic insulation by crushing it or removing it to access work areas.
Insulation may not be as pretty as new countertops, but it can help reduce your energy costs and make your home more comfortable.
Miranda Boutelle writes on energy-efficiency topics for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.