Friday, July 02, 2010

Home Efficiency Update

As my loyal readers know, I've been busy upgrading my 80 year old home with all kinds of energy efficient appliances and upgrades. Since I bought the house, I've installed insulated garage doors that replaced the original old carriage doors, new front and side doors, added insulation to the attic, and just finished installing a new hot water heater.

The old water heater had an efficiency rating of .53. The new one has a .62 efficiency rating, which will translate into a savings of nearly $400 per year at $1.2 per therm. That means I'll recover the costs of the water heater installation within four years and will save money thereafter. Another way to calculate the costs is here. Those savings will add up the longer the heater remains in operation.

I had considered a tankless system, which would have gotten far higher efficiencies, but the house layout didn't make that feasible because you need direct venting to the outside and minimum clearances between the vents and windows to avoid bringing the exhaust back into the house. The higher initial cost for a tankless system may be recouped fairly quickly when you have a high costs for gas or electricity.

Either option will definitely cut your energy costs significantly over older model hot water heaters. The unit I replaced dated to 1994. It would make sense to review your existing model's efficiency rating to see whether upgrading to a new model makes sense for your situation and depending on what model is chosen, you could qualify for federal tax credits or state rebates.

People don't realize just how much money they'd save by upgrading their HVAC, although there are steps that can be taken to reduce energy costs that you can do without bringing in experts. At a minimum, reducing the temperature setting on the hot water heater means that your hot water heater doesn't have to work as much to keep the tank at the necessary temperature. Insulating the hot water pipes can also reduce costs. Putting aerators on sinks and low-flow shower heads will further reduce the energy costs and also reduce water consumption (another efficiency step).

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