A lot of homeowners want to save money on their energy costs, and having a more energy efficient home is a goal of people all over the country. However, there are a lot of misconceptions out there about how to best increase the energy efficiency of a home. Not everything you replace will necessarily yield a great return on your investment, and deciding how to proceed can be difficult and confusing.
The truth of the matter is that there is no solution that's right for every home. All homes are different, and improving their energy efficiency requires a unique and individualized approach. Before you begin improving the energy efficiency of your home, you should be aware of some of the common misconceptions that exist about energy saving.
Installing a Solar PV Should Be Your First Step
A solar system on your roof might get your neighbors talking, but there are plenty of less expensive and less flashy ways to improve your energy efficiency, and they can often give you a higher energy reduction per dollar invested.
Some of the first things you should work on improving include:
- Insulation for walls, floors, and attics
- Duct sealing
- Air pockets
- Energy efficient light bulbs
- Installing Energy Star appliances
- Invest in energy-saving air conditioning, furnaces, and water heaters
All of these more simple things should be taken care of long before you decide to add solar power to your home. While a solar PV system can save you up to 73% in electricity use, it can also cost around $28,000. On the other hand, an energy efficient retrofit will cost you around $10,000 and reduce your electricity use by 25% and natural gas by 54%.
All Insulation is Equal
When you're insulating your home, it's important to consider what kind of insulation you're using. Most commonly, fiberglass batts are used for insulation, but their performance will largely depend on how well they're installed. Gaps between batts that are as small as a quarter-inch can drastically reduce their ability to insulate. Blown-in, or loose-fill, fiberglass or cellulose insulation is much more effective, generally.
Energy Efficiency is the Same as Energy Conservations
These two terms looks and sounds similar, but they actually mean very different things. Energy efficiency means that they're using less energy to produce the same amount of heat, light, etc, as opposed to simply turning down the thermostat or keeping lights off more frequently. Energy conservation can feel arduous to some people, so this misconception leads many homeowners to not look into energy efficiency when it may be able to save them money.
Energy Efficiency is Expensive
Installing energy efficient technologies in your home may require high costs upfront, but those costs will more than pay for themselves in the energy savings you'll see within a relatively short period. While it may take some time, energy efficiency is an investment that will definitely pay off.
Solar Power Isn't Yet Advanced Enough to be Used in Most Home
It is true that no technology is ever "finished," and advancements in solar power systems are being made every day, but that doesn't mean solar power isn't ready for your home. Solar power generation is actually a fairly mature technology, even as research and development continues to improve it.
With the aid of incentives and rebates, solar power can easily give you a sizeable payoff within 7 to 10 years. In the future, as the costs of solar power systems get lower and the systems themselves become more efficient, that aid will likely disappear.
Geothermal Systems Provide Free Energy
Geothermal systems take advantage of the fact that the temperatures several feet below the ground typically stay at around 50-55°F. In the winter, geothermal systems use that temperature to help produce heat, and in the summer, to help cool your home. But while the energy itself may be "free," moving it from the ground into your building is not.
There are several pumps and compressors involved, and it usually takes quite a bit of electricity to get those underground temperatures into your home. Still, geothermal systems will mean that your home is using energy more efficiently overall.