Where would we be without it? We only have to remember how out of sorts we get when there is a short power outage at our homes.
The cost of energy is going up. We pay more and more to heat our homes and keep the lights on. The cost to the environment rises as we take more and more to power our lives. Our world needs new ways to utilize our energy in the most efficient way possible. If you have kids with an aptitude for science and engineering encourage them. We need break-throughs.
Until then we must become more energy efficient. We have come a long way in the last 25 years. Think of the big boats that we used to all drive. The homes we live in today are much more energy efficient than they were a generation ago. We can live in 3-4000 sq ft homes today and have similar energy usage as the much smaller 50 year old homes which have 2-3 inches of attic insulation and drafty windows.
Houses are built much tighter with better material and more insulation. Lighting systems and kitchen appliances are becoming more efficient every year.
Another big change of course is our heating and cooling equipment. We measure our furnace output in BTUs. One BTU is based on the energy one wooden match creates. In many 1500 sq ft homes it used to take 75,000 to 100,000 match sticks burning at once to heat them properly. Today that same home with upgraded insulation, windows and doors can be heated with 44,000 to 50,000 match sticks.
Our cooling systems have stopped using Freon gas, which when leaked destroys our ozone layer in the atmosphere, (more cost to the environment). Our AC units are rated by a SEER rating, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. The higher the SEER ratings the greater the efficiency. A 25 year old A/C is probably around SEER-6 In 2006 the federal government mandated that all new central air conditioning equipment be at least SEER-13 There is equipment available rated as high as SEER-23 .
One of the issues home owners face when they need a new AC unit is they find the A-coil in the furnace is not compatible with a new AC. This usually means a new furnace has to be purchased as well.
Another big user of energy in our homes is our hot water heater. Again, new regulations are calling for more efficiency. This means a larger investment to purchase the unit, but the savings over the years easily compensate the larger cost. For some homeowners they will find space is an issue. According to manufacturers’ specifications and estimates from industry professionals, qualifying replacements for units smaller than 55 gallons will grow 2 to 8 inches in height and 2 to 6 inches in width.
Energy savings are a lot like investments. When we invest the profit does not seem to be much at first, but as the years go by the investments grow and profit accumulates. Energy savings will add up for our pocketbook and our environment.
We are a locally owned home inspection company serving the metro areas of Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.