Energy Efficient Home Features

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From solar roof vents to LED lighting, there are many ways to incorporate energy efficiency in your home.

By Bailie Wilson

 

Energy Efficient Lighting

“LED is the new technology we are most excited about,” says Jan Lee of Dealer’s Lighting. While LED lights tend to be pricier, they are the most cost effective and last a great deal longer. The efficiency of LED bulbs is astounding – if it runs for three hours each day, it should last up to twenty-seven years. Scientists have also worked hard to develop a variety of colors as well as “cool” and “warm” light options.

While these bulbs are initially expensive, costing approximately $16-50 depending on the bulb, changes in pricing are occurring rapidly. “In the near future, prices should be significantly less than they are today,” explains Lee.

Manufactures are also beginning to switch to LED. “It’s not an overnight thing, but it’s happening pretty quickly,” says Lee. “So for instance, if you want something LED for your dining fixture, you can easily get that, or you can get a retrofit LED light bulb now.” As the technology continues to advance, more styles and models are available to suit everyday lighting needs.

Solar Panels

“Installing solar panels will reduce or offset your electric bill throughout the year,” says Adam Burke of Texas Green Energy. “The typical system we install would reduce [your bill] by about 50 percent.”

The cost of the solar panels depends on the size of the system, and the size of the system depends not on the size of the house, but on the amount of energy consumed by the home. The amount of south-facing roof space available is also a factor in deciding the size of system to install.

As far as the rate of return on solar panels, they typically take 9 to 11 years to pay off in utility bill savings. There are, however, tax cuts and incentives that will help reduce the overall cost. “There is a federal tax cut that pays back 30 percent of the final invoice price,” says Burke.

While a solar panel system may initially be costly, there are financing packages that help keep them affordable. “There are packages where your monthly payment is less than the energy savings you would get per month. You could put a system on your house and then once you subtract the monthly savings, you end up coming out ahead every month.”

For those considering adding solar panels to an older home, Burke says, “It really isn’t much different to work on an existing home. The only difference with new construction is it’s a little easier to run the wiring.” He says that the pricing is about the same for adding a system to an older home.

Roofing

“One of the most important things you can do for your roofing is attic ventilation,” says Gary Spivey of America’s Choice Roofing. Spivey recommends installing solar-powered attic fans in order to reduce utility bills and lengthen the life of your shingles.

Solar powered attic fans are set up inside the attic and come in two different ventilation capacities- a 12 Watt for up to 1250 square feet and a 20 Watt for up to 1850 square feet.

At least one solar panel sits on top of the unit and powers the fan inside. “The solar panel is charged and is what makes the fan turn,” says Spivey. “It gets the heat out of the attic and keeps it cool.”

There are a few significant benefits to installing solar-powered attic fans. The fans can protect the roof against moisture damage and also prolong the life of the roofing materials. Additionally, the fans can reduce utility costs by 18 to 25 percent.

“I put two panels on my house, and we save 18 percent,” says Spivey. “But some customers have saved up to 25 percent, and that’s huge.”

“They can be used on residential homes, sheds, anything,” says Spivey. “They are very quiet and burn no electricity, so they are a no cost operation.”