Flipping off the lights when you leave a room and taking faster showers can help you trim a bit off your utility bills each month. But if you want to see big differences in the efficiency of your home, you’ll need to go beyond lifestyle changes and think about modern upgrades to your fixtures and appliances.
Investing in technology that saves water and energy presents a trifecta of benefits. Not only will these upgrades bring long-term savings on your monthly bills, they may also increase the value of your property. Better yet, Mother Earth will thank you for lowering your carbon footprint.
Not sure what to do first? The HVAC and plumbing professionals at Strand Brothers Service Experts are here to help with some guidance on energy-efficient upgrades to make around your home. Here’s how to make your home work for you.
Switch to a Tankless Water Heater
How often is your family using hot water? For most households, the biggest demand for hot water is during the morning and evening for showers. However, if you have a traditional water heater, it’s using energy to keep that water hot all the time — even when you don’t need it.
“The tank has to be heated and maintained so that when we do use hot water, it’s there, but the heat radiating from the tank ends up consuming a lot of energy,” said Jim Hughes, senior manager of education and training at Service Experts.
Reduce this waste by converting to a tankless water heater. This energy-efficient upgrade provides steamy showers on demand, without constantly keeping a tank warm.
“Just about everyone out there has been the last person in the house to hop in the shower and have no hot water. That doesn’t happen with tankless water heaters. You use only what you need, so it saves you energy and improves comfort,” said Hughes.
Upgrade Your HVAC System in Austin
Your HVAC system works hard to keep your home comfortable throughout the scorching summers and shivery winters. That effort is hard on the system, decreasing its efficiency (and growing your energy costs) over the years. Regular maintenance can help keep it performing, but at some point, it no longer makes financial sense to keep repairing an declining HVAC system.
“If you look at the cost of cleaning it and making it as factory-fresh as you can, but the system’s already 12 to 15 years old, you might be better off investing in a new system that’s nice and clean, and built to a much higher efficiency than older ones,” said Hughes.
It could take a while to save up for a new HVAC system. However, you may be able to make that upgrade a lot sooner with the Advantage Program™ from Service Experts. Participants can get a new, energy-efficient air conditioning and heating system installed at their properties right away for a fixed monthly fee that’s typically lower than the average internet bill. Plus, the program includes 24/7 emergency service, parts and repairs at no additional cost. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your HVAC system will always keep your home the perfect temperature, with no unpleasant surprises along the way.
Upgrade Your Faucets and Shower Heads
Think you’ll sacrifice water pressure by installing energy-efficient faucets and shower heads? Think again. Newer versions of these fixtures give just as much pressure as ones from decades past, minus the wasted water (and the accompanying expenses).
“Shower heads and faucets had higher flow rates of three to four gallons per minute before 1990. Some of the new aerators and shower heads bring it down to one gallon per minute, but the designs allow us to keep our water pressure,” said Brian Stigner, regional plumbing manager at Service Experts.
Upgrades like these can affect your bottom line — and eliminate the guilt you might feel when you treat yourself to a lengthy shower at the end of the day.
Install New Doors and Windows
Windows are another area of concern when it comes to increasing the efficiency of a home. If they’re aging or damaged, you may be spending more than needed to keep the temperature in your home comfortable.
“Windows have really come a long way. Whereas you used to feel all the heat from the sunlight coming through a window, they now have windows with coated glass that reflects the heat back out and reduces the amount of heat building up inside the house,” said Hughes.
You can also make similar upgrades to your doors to help reduce drafts and maintain ideal temperatures.
“It used to be all doors were wood, which is not a very efficient material. Old doors would lose a lot of heat,” Hughes explained. “Newer doors, some of which are made of metal or fiberglass that looks like wood, have insulation inside that almost makes them like a cooler you would take to the beach. It cuts down on radiant heat quite a lot.”
Invest in a Dual-flush Toilet
You’ve probably already seen those new toilets with two buttons for different flush strengths at various public places, like shopping malls and universities. But did you know those dual-flush toilets are also available for private homes? They’re the newest offering in water-efficient plumbing.
“Toilets are a major fixture that uses water. Prior to 1990, most toilets were manufactured to use 3.5 gallons per flush. Then, they converted to 1.6-gallon flushes. A couple of years ago, they came out with new dual-flush toilets that give you the option for 1.1-gallon flush,” said Stigner.
Dual-flush toilets conserve water and ultimately help you avoid flushing your hard-earned money down the drain.
There’s no universal solution to improving the efficiency of a home. Investigate which options make the most sense for you at this time, then make the right investments to yield years of savings down the road.
Want an energy-efficient HVAC system, but you’re not sure how you can afford it? Ask Service Experts about its Advantage Program™, which allows homeowners to lease new HVAC equipment for one low monthly cost.
Source: Get Creative, a division of USA Today