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Energy efficient homes are a first step in savings

submitted by Dara Bortman, Exact Solar, www.ExactSolar.com

As the cost to heat, cool, and light our homes steadily increases we look for ways to reduce that expense. A solar energy system is the most popular way to turn the house into a power generator and a money saver. But as we begin to prepare for the next winter, we are reminded that using less energy overall is the best first step to savings.

Just this year, Pennsylvania updated building codes to support more efficient new construction. Yet, there are still many existing structures that need modernizing. The state and many local utilities offer both incentives and assistance to guide businesses and homeowners through the process.

Undertaking an energy efficiency project is really more than a first step to reducing costs. Some homeowners report the results make them happier and they feel more comfortable. Most important, it creates awareness.

Families change certain habits that increase the impact. In our experience, the most satisfied customers are those who have minimized energy usage and maximized savings by next adding a solar energy system. Here are some tips to consider as you plan an efficiency project.

Your heating and air conditioning are the largest electricity users. To reduce consumption, experts recommend at least three measures. Upgrade your home’s thermal insulation as needed. Ensure your ventilation systems are properly maintained. Consider annual inspections. And when it is time or where required, replace systems and include a “smart” thermostat. Other appliances that also heat and cool can demand lots of power, especially for larger families.

ENERGY STAR certified hot water heaters, refrigerators, and dryers conserve energy without sacrificing performance. Lastly, replace old incandescent lighting with modern style units, such as LEDs. Start with the few most often used lamps and fixtures.

Consider power strips for your electronic entertainment devices. When not in use, a simple flip of the switch prevents them from using small amounts of power even when turned off. A home that is more comfortable and requires less electricity for everyday living is also a more pleasant place year round. As you think about solar energy, don’t forget to look also at your family’s energy habits.