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Energy Conservation

Here’s some handy information that can help everyone with energy conservation. Some of these things are really basic, and really don’t cost a dime! Others may require some expert assistance. We suggest you read this information carefully and plan to spend a full day or two to go through your home taking a look at each one of these areas we have identified below.


Get a home energy audit done

A home energy audit is a great way to make sure your home is tightly sealed against leaks and is not needlessly wasting energy.  A qualified inspector will come to you home and perform a variety of tests to identify leaks.  Most leaks can be sealed on the spot.


Upgrade your heating system.

Although this may seem costly, it will save a lot of money in the long run while increasing reliability, comfort and the value of your home.
There are a lot of energy efficient choices available, so be sure to ask one of our energy experts for advice on what type of system upgrade would be right for you.

Our current favorite energy saving system is the Energy Kinetics System 2000 pictured here.  This system has saved Sippin customers thousands of dollars on home heating costs while providing reliable comfort and abundant hot water.


Heating System Modifications & Maintenance

Hot water pipe insulation.  Insulating hot water pipes can save an amazing 10-15% on your annual energy usage.  To insulate, simply stop at any hardware or home improvement store and purchase insulated pipe wrapping.  It can be easily cut to fit, and secured with a combination of duct tape and plastic tie-wraps.

Warm air furnace and hydro-air system filter changing.  This is a big one, and responsible for an enormous amount of wasted fuel.  In times of constant heating (or cooling) operation, FILTERS SHOULD BE CHANGED EVERY MONTH! Go to your local hardware or home improvement center and pick-up a years supply of filters.  Sippin energy can also provide your air filters by the case if you wish. If you need assistance, during your annual preventive maintenance visit, we can label your filter locations and show you how to change them.

Insulated water heater wrapping. Depending on what type of water heater you have, you may be able to save significant energy by wrapping your water heater with a special water heater insulation blanket.  These are available from most home improvement stores and take about an hour to install.

Heat duct sealing.  Look for gaps or cracks in your duct work and seal them with duct tape (yep, that’s what it was made for…)

Clean baseboard fins.  Your baseboard should look like the picture here.  Air must be able to freely flow through the baseboard from the bottom and out through the top.  Make sure the fins are not plugged with dirt, lint or pet hair (you can vacuum them out with a vacuum crevice tool).  The louver at the top of the baseboard should be open enough to allow for free air flow.  Baseboard should never be blocked by furniture or long drapery.

Energy Saving Boiler Controls (for hot water heat only). These controls regulate the boiler water temperature and operation to optimize efficiency based on system load.  RW Beckett is now offering a modulating temperature control that does not require an outside air system, and claims between 10%-20% annual savings CLICK HERE

Outside temperature set-back controls. These controls modulate boiler water temperature based upon outdoor temperatures.  The warmer it is outside, the less your boiler has to work. Tekmar is a featured manufacturer of these types of controls.

Consider installing a system humidifier, or stand-alone room humidifiers. You will feel comfortable at cooler temperatures with the proper humidity.

Install a digital set-back clock thermostat. These are inexpensive and can potentially save a bundle. Set them back when you are sleeping or away from the home. More Info.

If your boiler has a tank-less coil, consider Installing An Indirect Water Heater. Indirect hot water heaters save a lot of energy by storing hot water in an encapsulated vessel that stores energy very efficiently. By contrast, a boiler with a tank-less coil runs excessively throughout the year because of potential demand. Most of the heat simply goes right up the chimney. Another added benefit…you will have a near limitless supply of hot water! For more information on indirect water heaters, click here.

Install water saving shower heads. The less water you use, the less energy it takes to heat the water.Just makes a lot of sense! Here’s some more info.

Don’t forget to have an annual tune-up done (included with Sippin Watchguard® Silver and Gold service plans). During an annual tune-up visit, your system will be cleaned of energy-robbing carbon build-up and optimized with our state of the art digital flue gas analyzer system.

Insulation

Insulating ceilings, attics, walls will save a bundle.  It’s an inexpensive way to save a lot of money fast.  You can insulate older homes as well.  Blown-in insulation can be used to access hard to reach areas.  Also be sure to check your existing insulation to make sure it is covering all exposed areas.  Over the years insulation in attics can be disturbed or removed.  How much insulation do you need?  It’s best to ask an expert, but in our experience…as much as you can fit.

More information is available here.

New roofing & Siding

New siding itself isn’t really a big energy saver, but it’s what’s underneath that really counts.  New siding is often installed over a wind-barrier (Tyvek®) and often with a layer of dense foam insulation.  This combination is dynamite for sealing out drafts and and adding an extra layer of insulation where you need it most. It’s like dressing your home “in layers”. Here is an informative link explaining ways to save with new roofing and siding.

New windows and doors

Old windows and doors are one of the most common causes of significant heat loss. Old-fashion non-thermal pane windows can rob you of 20% of your heat!  Poor weather stripping is also a primary cause of high infiltration losses.  This is the type of heat loss caused by cold drafts that blow right through cracks in your home.  How significant?  Could be robbing you of 15% or more! Here is a link with terrific information about energy saving window technologies.

New window treatments

Some types of window treatments can provide significant insulation and protection from drafts.

Ceiling Fans

A modern paddle-type ceiling fan is a wonderful year-round energy saver.  In the winter it will pull the warm air that accumulates at the ceiling and re-circulate it around the room, causing a convection current. In the summer, you can save energy with a ceiling fan by running your air conditioning at a higher temperature.  A ceiling fan creates  a very simple but effective evaporative cooling system.

Carpeting

Carpeting also adds a layer of insulation (about 1.3 R Value)  to floors saving energy.  Keeping your feet warm is crucial to feeling comfortable in your home.

Radiant Heating

We thought about mentioning this as a heating system improvement, but it’s really an integral part of your homes construction.  Radiant heat is the most efficient type of heat there is, because radiant heat is the heating of objects, like what happens when you hold up your hand to the sun. So if your putting in an addition or remodeling, consider making it radiant heat.  How much can you save? How about 75% or more! Here some more info on radiant heat.

Places Where Heat Escapes

Heat Escape Route
Solution
Air conditioning units Cover or remove from window
Attic circulating fans Seal off with polyethylene and tape
Kitchen vent Close when not in use
Fireplace flue Close when not in use (this is a big one!)
Attached garage Close door when not in use
Windows without storm windows Cover with polyethylene sheets
Window panels Replace cracked glass
Foundation sills Caulk and insulate the part of your foundation that connects with the wood frame portion of your home.  This is a very common and big area of heat-loss.
Cracked or
missing caulking
Re-caulk, re-seal all weather
stripping and caulking

Basic Home Weather Proofing

  • Feel for air leaks around windows, doors and electrical outlets. Repair weather-stripping and caulk leaks. (Don’t caulk around storm windows because that can hold in moisture and cause damage to the wood frame).
  • Seal up cracks in your home’s foundation.
  • Replace cracked glass.
  • Insulate your 1st floor (your basement ceiling).  Don’t heat your basement unless you live there!
  • Seal off your attic circulating fan with polyethylene and tape.
  • Make sure you have at least 6″ of good thermal insulation in your ceiling.
  • Remove air conditioning window units or cover them well.
  • Use storm windows and doors and make sure they fit tightly.
  • If you don’t have storm windows, cover the outside glass with polyethylene sheets.

Common Sense & Life-style Items

You’ll save about 3% on your heating bill for every degree that you set back your thermostat full time. (Turn it back 10 degrees when you go to work and again when you go to bed, and you can save about 14% on your heating bill.) The best way to do this is with a good clock thermostat.  Put on a few extra blankets at night and turn down the temperature 10°.  In Europe it is not uncommon for folks to turn down their heat to as low as 45° F at night!  You may actually feel a lot better in the morning due to the increased humidity at a lower temperature.

Take advantage of “cheap solar Heat”. On the side of your home that is exposed to the sun during the day, keep the windows treatments and drapery open to let as much sun shine in as possible.  This is what’s referred to as passive solar heat.  Conversely, all windows coverings should be closed at night, or when the sun is not shining.

Wash your clothes in cold water.  New cloths washer detergents work well using cold water settings, which can save a substantial amount of money for big families that run many loads of laundry.

Install a fireplace heater grate.  There are a lot of folks that enjoy the warm cozy crackle of a fireplace during a cold winter night, but the truth of the matter is that most of that heat goes right up the chimney!  A fireplace heater grate captures heat from your fireplace and circulates it into the room.  Typically these units can capture 30-50,000 BTU’s of wasted heat from a fireplace and effectively heat that room or part of your home.

Common Energy Saving Options – Always A Smart Investment

Option Energy Savings Payback in years
Flame Retention Burner 15-18% 1-3
Indirect water heater 15-18% 1-3
Add a Humidifier Up to 10% 0-1
Efficiency Tune-Up Up to 10% 0-1
New Boiler or Furnace 20-40% 4-8

Energy Conservation FAQ

Q. If I insulate and weather-proof my house, does that create an un-healthy environment?
A. It is true that a well insulated home will reduce the number of air changes in your home, and re-circulate the existing air for a longer period of time.  In this situation, it is usually beneficial to consider some indoor air quality systems.  A UV light system is a great way to kill germs in a ducted system, and there are a number of great room-type air purification systems available.

The US department Of Energy has a great website with more information. Click Here

Considering switching to utility gas? You may want to read this, and think again.  Consumer Energy Counsel Of America