Remodeling involves more than new windows, more insulation and better weather-stripping. An “energy audit” involves monitoring, testing and reviewing all of the energy consuming elements of your home. When you have a checkup by your doctor, the vital signs are monitored, tested and actions diagnosed for your long term health; an energy audit should do the same for your house.
How much electricity, gas, or water are consumed to properly operate your place is an ongoing expense; each can cost you far more than you expect or want to pay. Over time these utility costs may amount to a significant cost that you can avoid. After an audit, analyzing how each is consumed and making corrections is the name of the game.
If your electrical consumption is too high, investing in ENERGY STAR rated appliances, high efficiency light bulbs and installing smart controls will save you many dollars over time. Investing in solar photovoltaic solar electric cells and “time of day” use controls can result in “net zero” metering, almost eliminating future electric bills.
Gas is primarily used for space heating, water heating and cooking. Adding insulation to the outside surfaces of your house, new windows and weather stripping will reduce your heating and air conditioning bills. Adding a solar water heater can almost eliminate hot water cost. The amount of gas consumed can be greatly reduced in most cases by these simple measures.
Household water consumption is normally estimated to be about 50 gallons per day per person in the United States. Water is becoming more costly, whether delivered by pipe to your home, or pumped from a well. By installing flow control devices and water conserving devises, water flow can be monitored to fit specific uses efficiently. Grey water systems are now legal in California and many other States, and they should be used for watering lawns, landscaping and most non potable uses. With a comprehensive water use program, perhaps even collecting and using rain water from your roof, it is reasonable to reduce your individual water consumption to less than 15 gallons per day.
Today there are many good incentives for remodeling an existing home. With the recent real estate implosion it is cheaper to buy a existing house rather than building a new one, by as much as half. Many existing houses are located in desirable locations with mature landscaping, good services, established neighborhoods, schools or even views that a new home location can’t match. Upgrading can produce a highly efficient modern building by recycling an older one; this is the “Green” way to go. The current national focus on energy efficiency has created a wide range of financial incentives for weatherproofing, insulating, installing solar hot water or solar electric, replacing out of date or inefficient appliances, lights and air conditioning systems. Taking advantage of these incentives will save you the initial costs as well as reduce ongoing utility expenses from now on. Utility rates are sure to rise faster than monetary inflation over the long run. Now is a good time to remodel your house, and David Wright Associates, AIA are experienced experts at integrating efficiency, function and aesthetics into home and business remodels.