This site is dedicated to providing all kinds of useful information related to making Arizona homes more energy efficient. From windows to roofs, insulation to air conditioning, hot water to lighting. This site will show you how to identify problem areas in your home and offer energy saving solutions.
In Arizona one of the best ways to heat water is with a Solar Hot Water Heater. This is important because hot water typically accounts for about 12% of your utility bill. The US Government, the State of Arizona and the utility companies (APS, SRP) offer incentives to go solar.
Some other ways to save on your hot water include:
- Lower the thermostat on the heater. 120 degrees should be hot enough for most home hot water needs.
- Drain your heater every 3 to 6 months to remove sediments.
- Add additional insulation to the outside of the hot water tank. But be careful not to cover the top or bottom of the tank and do not cover the thermostat or burner compartment.
- Insulate the hot and cold water pipes that lead into the heater as far as possible.
- Repair leaking faucets.
- Install low-flow showerheads and faucets.
When it comes time to replace your water heater which is usually every 7-12 years, consider going solar or purchase a high efficiency EnergyStar rated water heater.
Leaving a battery charger plugged in uses energy even when you’re not charging something. If you go through your house and do an audit of all the devices that you have plugged in, you will find that many of them have a small power transformer attached to them. These are used for cell phones, computer accessories, laptops, desktop speakers, chargers for power tools; the list goes on. These transformers are constantly drawing power even when not in use. Find out which ones you don’t need to have plugged in when they are not being used, and unplug them. Every little bit helps.
If you are going to be in your home for any considerable amount of time, consider this. If you have an older air conditioner it can be costing you hundreds of dollars in the summer months more than it could be with a newer high efficiency system. When you factor in the cost of repairs… well, you get the picture. Today’s high efficiency systems offer more than just energy savings, they offer improved comfort, cleaner air, humidity control, and quieter operation.
Most people when they are in the market for a new system ask themselves 2 questions: 1). What brand or model should I get? and 2). whats the price? Both of these are important questions but the bigger question is who is going to install it? It starts with the comfort consultant. Make no mistake, this person is a salesman that is being paid a commission when you buy. That’s not a bad thing as long as that person earns their money by doing the best work possible.
To select the right comfort consultant there are several things you should look for.
1). Make sure the company is reputable, check their complaint record with Arizona Registrar of Contractors.
2). Get references. Get 2 recent installs, 2 one year old installs, and 2 five year old installs.
3). Before recommending any piece of equipment your comfort consultant needs to do 2 very important things. They need to get to know you, your needs and preferences. They also need to get to know your house. This is the interview phase. If you try to rush through it, your comfort consultant my miss a piece of vital information that could lead to you getting the wrong solution.
4). Any good comfort consultant will insist on performing a Manual J heat/load calculation. This is done with a computer program that looks at the size of your home, its orientation to the sun, construction type, and the size and type of your windows and doors. This is very time consuming so please be patient. The purpose of the calculation is to determine the correct size of the equipment that you need.
If the equipment is sized too big for your house you will have problems with excess humidity, uneven temperatures throughout the house, excess wear and tear on the equipment from frequent starts and stops, and higher than normal energy bills. If the equipment is too small, it will not keep up during the hottest weeks of summer and you will be uncomfortable and your system won’t get a rest, again higher bills. So sizing is critical.
Once all of that has been done then the consultant can narrow down the myriad brands and models of air conditioning systems to one that’s just right for you. Don’t go cheap. Your air conditioner is most likely the most expensive appliance in your home. It’s an investment, so treat it like one. Remember quality counts and it doesn’t come cheap.
How much insulation is in your attic. According to the Department of Energy an attic in the Phoenix area should have an R-value of R-49. Most local building codes nowadays require minimum R-30. A thorough home energy audit will often reveal R-values in the lower ranges. Suppose you were to look in your attic; you might see a thin layer of blown insulation, either fiberglass or cellulose. If you can see just the tops of the 2 by 4′s, you probably have between R-10 and R-14. 16″ of blown cellulose should provide you with approximately R-49 and that can make a huge difference when it comes to saving energy.
The bottom line is this: Get your home inspected by a certified home energy auditor, and if your attic insulation is inadequate, hire a licensed contractor to get your insulation within the Department of Energy guidelines. Your home energy auditor or insulation contractor may also be able to provide you with valuable information on utility company rebates and tax credits.