Energy Efficiency & Conservation
  • 1. Light Right

    The average household spends nearly $200 on lighting every year, with much of the cost owing to the few lights that are on the most. So switching those frequently used bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is the place to start.

    Find the 10 lights you use most, and the lights you use at least one hour per day, and make the change.

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  • 2. Warm Water Well

    Water heating costs the average Virginia household around $250 per year. That water heater tank hidden in your closet or down in your basement is working non-stop to keep the water warm and to heat up the cold water that refills it after each use. You don't need to switch to cold showers to save money -- you can reduce your costs greatly by taking a handful of simple steps.

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  • 3. Program Your Comfort

    Heating and cooling costs the average Virginia household about $900 per year --the largest single component of your utility bill. Instead of leaving your heat or air conditioning on full blast when you're not home, install a programmable thermostat for your system. 

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  • 4. Add a Blanket

    Upgrading your attic insulation can dramatically reduce your heating and air conditioning costs, improve the value of your home, and add to your day-to-day comfort. While this project may cost you $200 or more, once it's in place it will allow you to save money on your energy bills for the life of your home.

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  • 5. Put a Hat on It

    In most homes, the attic door or hatch, is a framed plywood square in the ceiling of a hallway or bedroom, with no insulation above it. Without insulation, it is like having an open door to the outside or an open fireplace flue.

    The good news is, it's easy to fix this problem: simply apply a piece of insulated foam board to the back of the door or hatch and add weatherstripping to the frame.

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  • 6. Defeat Drafts

    The outer walls, ceiling, windows, doors and floor make up the "thermal envelope" of your house. Any gaps or holes in this envelope allow the conditioned or heated air inside your house to escape. When you add up all the small gaps, holes, cracks, and leaks, it's often the equivalent of leaving a couple of windows wide open-- all the time.

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  • 7. Go with the (Air) Flow

    Periodically replacing your air filter will significantly improve your heating and cooling system's performance. When the filter is dirty, the fan uses more energy to force the air through. When the filter gets too clogged, the whole system can shut down --triggering the need for professional services that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

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  • 9. Dial It Back a Notch

    Your appliances are wonderful modern conveniences -- but they cost the average Virginia household over $200 per year to operate. You can save 10% or more on these costs through two easy steps, without any appreciable effect on your day-to-day lifestyle or comfort.

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  • 10. Kill the "Phantoms"

    Electronics and miscellaneous appliances are the second largest category of home electricity usage -- nearly $300 for the average household. Some experts estimate that up to 75% of these costs are for "phantom power" -- situations where these devices are using electricity even when you think they are "off." Often (but not always) that little green light that is still glowing is a tip-off.

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By Upgrading Your Attic Insulation

Upgrading your attic insulation can dramatically reduce your heating and air conditioning costs, improve the value of your home, and add to your day-to-day comfort. While this project may cost you $200 or more, once it's in place it will allow you to save money on your energy bills for the life of your home. And more good news is that your insulation material may qualify you for a 30% federal tax credit.

 

Video: How to Add Insulation to Your Attic


In Virginia's climate, attics should be insulated to at least the "R38" level, however most houses have less than they need. With either fiberglass bats or a layer of loose fill cellulose, there should be at least 12 inches of insulation. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to see only the top of the attic joists if you have fiberglass, and not see them at all if you have cellulose.

Adding loose cellulose insulation is easy and it will fill in any gaps you have in the existing insulation. Machines to "blow it in" to your attic are available at many home improvement centers, and are often free to rent with a minimum purchase. And it's an environmentally-friendly choice since cellulose is made up of ground-up newsprint.

Materials for the Job:

  • Loose fill cellulose insulation (1 bag per 50 square feet of attic, blower rental often free with 10 bag purchase)


What is R-value?

R-value is a measure of the ability of a material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating value. Depending on the material, insulation has an R-value of 3 to 4 per inch. That means that full and uniform coverage is critical. If you use "R-38" for example, but the insulation does not cover the attic joists or has small gaps or holes (equivalent to 3%), it would actually lose nearly half its value--and function just as R-20 insulation. For more information on R-values, visit the US Department of Energy "Energy Saver" website.

 
 
 

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