Simple energy efficiency solutions can make a difference you feel in your home immediately.
On a national average, individuals spend close to 10% of their monthly income on utility costs. Utility rates fluctuate, but trends over the last 10 years show that utility rates continue to increase each year. As this trend continues, power bills will continue to remain one of the family’s biggest costs. According to EnergyStar, a typical U.S. home spends about $171 per month on utility costs – roughly $2,060 per year! – with the vast majority of that attributed to electricity.
Additionally, complex electricity rate plans and time-of-use rules are difficult to understand and follow. Here at Elevation, we help homeowners take advantage of technology, home efficiency services, and ongoing monitoring in order to live more comfortably, and for less than they currently pay. You bought your home – why not enjoy it? With energy efficiency improvements, smart home monitoring, utility rate plans and incentives, and customized solar solutions, families can start to feel these savings almost immediately.
There are several inexpensive things you can do each month to easily cut costs and save energy in your home. Other energy efficiency improvements may cost a little bit more upfront but will save you money in the long run. It’s always better to fix energy inefficiencies in the home before investing in an expensive product will mask and make up for lost energy. The more efficient your home is, the better added technology and products will work in your favor. That’s where the real savings are realized.
It all starts with an energy efficiency audit. Depending on the company and the size of your house, the fee for an energy audit can vary. Some companies, like Elevation, offer a free home energy audit. An energy auditor will come into your home to do real-time testing to see where your doors, walls, windows, and appliances are not efficient. They can pinpoint areas where expensive energy is leaking, perform thermal testing for warm and cold areas, and help give suggestions to remedy these issues in an Energy Efficiency Report. Under certain home insurance policies or warranties, some of these improvements are covered. Some government and utility companies even offer rebates incentives for such improvements and help cut the cost. The Department of Energy (DOE) also explains helpful information when deciding if you should get a home energy audit and what you should expect from a professional energy auditor. A home energy audit will help you know what can be done to start benefiting from utility savings.
Not only are major appliances some of the pricier items you purchase for your home, but these appliances are responsible for most of your energy costs. Look for Energy Star certified appliances that have been tested for optimal efficiency and performance. In addition to purchasing Energy Star appliances, knowing some simple tips on how to maintain the life of your major appliances will keep them running more efficiently and prevent you from having to replace them sooner than necessary. Much of the monthly or yearly maintenance can be done by you at home. Don’t wait until it breaks or stops working to hire a handyman. It will cost you more for the repair down the road. Although certified Energy Star appliances are usually more costly upfront, in most cases you will make up the difference in cost with your savings and also reap the benefits of a more EE home.
Local and state credits, rebates, and incentives can make a big difference if you are aware of what is offered. Tax credits for energy efficiency expired in 2016, but tax credits available for installing solar are at 26%. The amount is decreasing by about 3% each year, so if solar is right for you, the sooner you install the better. If you are not looking into solar but want to utilize EE improvements, see what the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency website (DSIRE) has to offer relating to credits and rebates in your area. DSIRE also has information regarding rebates for purchasing EE products such as Energy Star certified products.
Time-of-Use rate plans base your rate on when energy is in high demand. Energy consumed during high, “on-peak” times will result in higher rates. Additionally, there are fees associated if energy demanded at one time during the on-peak hours exceeds certain thresholds. These high demand times vary by location and change according to the seasons.
Conversely, however, energy is much cheaper on these rate plans than even standard rates when consumed outside of the on-peak window(s). Using smart monitors or manually setting your thermostats and major appliances to run during off-peak hours and then turn off during on-peak hours will significantly save you money. It’s important to learn about your local rate plans and “Time-of-Use” premiums in order to learn what you can do to stay comfortable at home which not breaking the bank.
Solar panel production has significantly improved over the years. And with custom packages built for their specific needs, customers can maximize their yearly savings.
Some factors that determine savings include:
Each home and solar system is different. Solar systems are built based on either your previous year’s consumption or the square footage of the home. Projected savings are calculated by comparing your historical energy costs (price per kWh and total consumption) to your projected energy costs with solar.
As a solar energy user, your utility company may provide you with certain incentives or qualified rate plans that provide extra savings. It is important to reach out to your energy provider for more information on which rate plan is right for you! Elevation’s FAQ page can help answer more of our commonly asked questions.