The City of Ann Arbor recently rolled out its A2Zero plan for complete carbon neutrality by 2030, which calls for total electrification of homes, businesses, schools and more. If you live in Ann Arbor, the phasing out of gas furnaces and appliances will directly impact you — and your electric bills.
With that in mind, making the switch to energy efficiency in your home can significantly reduce your utility bills. Tax incentives for installing energy efficient systems can make them even more cost-effective opportunities.
Here are five ways to upgrade your home’s energy efficiency.
1. Upgrade Your Kitchen Appliances
Large appliances, such as the refrigerator, stove and dishwasher, account for around
13% of monthly utility costs for average homeowners. By updating your kitchen appliances, you can reduce energy costs and increase your home’s energy efficiency. When looking to upgrade your kitchen appliances, look for ENERGY STAR labels and the bright yellow EnergyGuide label that is required by law and displays the appliance’s annual energy consumption and operating cost. And when it comes to the range, remember to go electric!
Numbers by ENERGY STAR:
A new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator is about 15% more energy efficient than the minimum federal standard for refrigerators and can cost you about $50 annually to run. An ENERGY STAR certified freezer uses 10% less energy than a new, non-certified model.
New ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers are 10% more energy efficient and 20% more water efficient than standard models, costing less than $35 annually to run, while saving an average of 1,900 gallons of water over its lifetime.
2. Install Solar Panels
Solar energy is sustainable, renewable and plentiful. The cost of using solar to produce electricity goes down each year. Installing solar panels reduces your utility bills as well as your carbon footprint.
Solar panels are typically installed on the roof of your home, but you can also consider installing them in your yard. Depending on your location and the orientation of the panels, you could generate 10 or more watts of energy per square foot. The excess power your house generates is sent back to the local power grid. Homeowners then get a credit on their energy bill. Alternatively, the excess power can be stored on-site in a battery for use at night or when there is insufficient sunlight. Learn more about Ann Arbor Solarize.
Remember, all solar installations must be performed by a licensed electrician. Our team is ready to assist with your next solar installation project.
3. Upgrade to a Tankless Water Heater
Tankless water heaters, also known as demand-type or instantaneous water heaters, provide hot water only as it is needed. They do not produce the standby energy losses associated with storage water heaters, which can save you money. Tankless water heaters are a fantastic choice for those interested in making the switch to complete electrification in their homes. They also typically have a life expectancy of more than 20 years and have easily replaceable parts that extend their life by many more years. In contrast, storage water heaters last 10 - 15 years.
Numbers by U.S. Department of Energy:
For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24% - 34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters.
They can be 8% - 14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water — around 86 gallons per day.
You can achieve even greater energy savings of 27% - 50% if you install a demand water heater at each hot water outlet.
If a tankless water heater isn’t for you, there are a number of other energy efficient, electric water heater options. From a solar water heater to a heat pump water heater, there are products available that can meet your home’s specific needs.
4. Switch to LED Lighting
Making the switch to LED lighting in your home is well worth the effort. LED lighting provides a huge financial advantage over other lighting options by being far more energy efficient.
Residential LEDs use at least 75% less energy, and last 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting. This energy efficiency reduces your carbon footprint and helps mitigate landfill waste. LED lights are also mercury free and contain no hazardous materials.
LEDs can also be small and directional, so they are ideal for kitchen lighting over countertops for preparing food and reading recipes.
5. Invest in Geothermal Heating and Cooling
Geothermal Heating and Cooling (HVAC) units are installed underground and use the earth as natural insulation. This option for HVAC is the most energy-efficient form of heating and cooling, offering energy savings of up to 80%.
These systems have fewer moving parts, which reduces maintenance, and unlike regular air conditioning systems, they have no parts outside. There is reduced wear and tear and no worry of dirt getting into the system. The geothermal system’s high efficiency typically means much lower utility bills, allowing the initial investment to be recouped in two to 10 years.
Numbers by U.S. Department of Energy:
Geothermal systems use 25% to 50% less electricity than conventional heating or cooling systems.
According to the EPA, geothermal heat pumps can reduce energy consumption — and corresponding emissions — up to 44% compared with air-source heat pumps and up to 72% compared with electric resistance heating with standard air-conditioning equipment.
Geothermal systems improve humidity control by maintaining about 50% relative indoor humidity.
Contact our team today for more information about how you can increase your home’s energy efficiency and what we can do to help you make the switch to complete electrification and reduce your carbon footprint.