I figured while I’m listening to new insulation being pumped into the house I could put together this post I’ve been meaning to write about energy efficiency.
When I moved into the house I was super stoked about the $60 electric & gas bill. Super cheap compared to the newly renovated, apparently non-insulated, home I was previously renting. Of course the $60 was because the house had been empty for a few years and went up immediately. My installation of an A/C unit didn’t help either.
I had put myself on the BG&E quick home energy check up list awhile back for the rental home (because it was free and I didn’t want another $400 bill) and they finally called me to schedule before I was scheduled to close on the house. Needless to say I pushed it off a few months and then used the free energy check up on the new place. The energy check up was great and mostly because it was free. The catch for the free part is you have to do one of their recommendations on site while the inspector is there. This could be installing low flow faucets, putting a blanket wrap on your water heater, or installing CFL light bulbs (blankets and light bulbs, I’m in!). Needless to say I ended up with a box of CFL light bulbs for the house and a nice list of both “I can do” energy efficiency changes and “things to save for” changes.
Things I can do:
- Foam insulation between my board and the wall along the basement.
- Caulk around the windows and storm windows
Things to save for:
- Solar Panels
- Attic Insulation
- Insulation in the walls
I toyed with the idea of solar panels for the house for a while as well. My energy usage with only myself in the house was fairly low, and it’d be possible to cover almost all of my usage with panels and my available roof space. Did I mention my house is perfectly facing for panels as well? There was a solar co-op being formed in my area through Retrofit Baltimore a very cool non-profit.
Retrofit Baltimore seeks to fill this gap by providing homeowners with trusted science-based information about the benefits of an energy retrofit, which include improved comfort and lower energy bills. – Retrofit Baltimore’s website
Push come to shove, the solar panels didn’t fit my strict criteria for upgrades to the house, but the connection with Retrofit brought me to my current situation. Through their grant programs they also offer the Home Performance Check Up (which is offered by BG&E for a small fee) with their trusted contractors. They offered to perform the home check up on the house, which includes a check of the air leakage and a overall more detailed check of the home than the previous free one I had done. As a bonus they will quote out any work to improve the efficiency of your house with contractors they have vetted and approved and they are able to apply the matching funds BG&E offers for improvements that come from these checks. *breath out* It’s a lot. And very cool. Another bonus I didn’t realize at the time was that they have additional grant monies that can help cover your part of the funds that BG&E was matching. Read: Heavily discounted trusted contractor work to make your home more energy efficient. It doesn’t get much better than that. (Actually it does, they make all sorts of graphs and calculations for your to tell you how much each upgrade will save you each year and over 10 years).
So here I am, sitting in my kitchen listening to the workers from the approved contractor fill my tiny attic space to the brim with blown in insulation and enjoying my coffee as I know I’ll save an average of $10/mo with this improvement.
I walked upstairs to grab a bag and they offered to let me see in the attic and what it looked like (I love it when you let me poke around your work!). I highly highly recommend these programs. And while they are mostly specific to Baltimore, if you look there are other programs like these around with money available for you to use to lower your own energy bill!
Other interesting articles that I used for background research of what to upgrade / what wasn’t worth it for my house to increase energy efficiency.
- Profile of home buyers and sellers from Realtor.com (they value green additions to the house)
- BG&E Home Performance with Energy Star
- A blog on energy efficiency tips