Image by Ralph Kelly

7

Steps to HomeEnergy Efficency

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1. Information

Get information about home energy efficiency here.

Efficacy (Heating & Cooking)

  1. Green Homes

  2. Smart Homes

  3. Renewable Energies

  4. Retrofitting

LOWER YOUR UTILITY BILLS WITH THESE 10 SIMPLE ENERGY EFFICIENCY TIPS

WHAT DOES “ENERGY EFFICIENT” MEAN?

Energy efficiency is the equivalent of reducing energy waste. To put it simply, it means doing the same task with less energy.

Think of all the items in your home that use energy: light bulbs, appliances, air conditioning, water heaters, electronics, and more. When your home uses excess energy to power these items, it not only adds to your utility bill, but it also causes pollution and harms the environment.

You may not realize it, but you probably have some well-established, energy-indulgent habits that can be adjusted. For example, does your thermostat need to be lowered all the way to 65°F when it’s hot out, or could you bump it up a few degrees? Are those four long baths each week really necessary, or would a couple suffice with some short showers in between? Maybe you could scrape your dirty plates in the garbage before they go in the dishwasher to save water. You get where we’re going with this. Small actions can have a big impact, so think about some behavior modifications you’re willing to make.

By making a few easy changes, you can improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save money. Not sure where to begin? We’re here to help.

1. ASK FOR A FREE ENERGY AUDIT

Let’s start with how energy efficient your home is already. Many utility providers offer homeowners a free home energy audit. These assessments examine all of the energy use in your house and your past energy bills. Energy auditors will figure out where your energy use is going so you can eliminate any waste. This is a great place to start when it comes to an energy evaluation.

2. MAKE THE MOST OF NATURAL SHADE AND SUN

Did you know that the bulk of your utility bill amount comes from your heating and air conditioning use? To help lower your bill, set your thermostat at 78°F in the summer and 68°F in the winter. And remember, you don’t have to rely only on your thermostat to keep you comfortable.

If it’s hot outside, draw your blinds and curtains to block the sun’s rays. Alternatively, when it’s chilly, use that sunshine to warm your home.

If you’re still uncomfortable in your home, think about how you’re dressed. It might be a good idea to put on an additional layer in the winter and dress down in the summer. Although it seems minor, it will take the heavy lifting off your heating and cooling unit.

3. USE COLD WATER WHEN POSSIBLE

You may not realize how much hot water your household is using. Sure, no one relishes the idea of taking a cold shower (and we’re not saying you have to resort to that), but if you’re using hot or warm water for your laundry and dishwashing cycles, you could be burning (no pun intended) more energy than what’s needed.

Try washing your clothing in cold water — especially those items that only need a light refresh and aren’t heavily soiled. As an added bonus, you may start to notice less color bleeding, fading, and shrinkage of your clothes after switching the water temperature.

4. DON’T FORGET TO UNPLUG

This may seem obvious, but electronics play a huge role in your home’s energy usage. Did you know that the electronics keep running even after you turn them off, though? It’s actually estimated that 75% of the energy used to power household electronics is consumed when they are switched off.

To truly stop the energy currents from flowing, you need to unplug the devices. If you don’t want to go around your home unplugging every individual device, use power strips to disconnect multiple items at once.

 

5.  REPLACE YOUR LIGHT BULBS

The U.S. Department of Energy says that just by replacing five of your home’s most frequently used light bulbs with energy-saving light bulbs could result in a $75-a-year savings in energy costs. Imagine what you would save if you replaced all of your bulbs — inside and outside!

6. LOOK FOR OVEN ALTERNATIVES

If your oven and stove are your go-to cooking appliances, it’s time to consider some other options. If you don’t need a lot of space, use your microwave, toaster oven, slow cooker, pressure cooker, or an air fryer. They’re quicker, and they use significantly less energy.

If you do have to use your oven, try not to open it while food is cooking inside. Why? Because every time you open the door (even for a peek), the temperature drops and the oven has to overcompensate to raise the temperature back to the desired degree.

Pro Tip: To be even more energy savvy, turn your oven off a few minutes before your food is finished cooking. The temperature won’t drop rapidly, but your oven will spend less time in “cool down” mode.

7. GO FROM GOOD TO GREAT WHEN YOU INSULATE

Did you know that 25–30% of your home’s heating and cooling usage (and, therefore, cost) is due to heat gain and loss through windows? Insulating them or investing in triple-paned glass can keep the weather where it belongs — outside your home. You can stop drafts, too, by insulating your doors, attic hatches, outdoor-facing pipes, and ceiling-to-wall joints. And, speaking of attic hatches, when’s the last time you checked the depth of your attic insulation? Is it the recommended 10–14 inches deep?

Pro Tip: Although necessary, insulation can create quite a mess. The easiest way to tackle an insulation project may involve moving furniture and other home items out of the way. No worries, though. Portable storage containers are a simple, convenient solution for getting those items out of the way and back in place on your schedule — and without even leaving your property.

 

8. MAKE SOME ENERGY-EFFICIENT INVESTMENTS

While you can obviously save energy without spending money, there are some larger investments you may want to consider that go beyond energy-efficient windows and insulation. There’s an abundance of energy-efficient appliances, fans, and electronics, as well. 

If you’re remodeling your home or in the market for a new washing machine or dishwasher, for instance, ask your retailer if the products you’re interested in are ENERGY STAR certified. This means that the products are federally guaranteed to consume less energy than similar makes and models.

 

It’s important to note that many energy-efficient appliances come with a higher price tag, which may seem counterintuitive. However, these are upfront costs that could actually save you money in the long run. The sticker price is only one part of the equation; you also need to consider the annual operating costs. Many people shy away from the more expensive appliances, only to pay higher bills in the future.

 

9. INSTALL SOLAR PANELS

Solar panels on homes are used to convert light from the sun (i.e., solar energy) into electricity. These clean and renewable energy sources are quickly growing in popularity for businesses and households alike.

While solar panels are expensive to install — averaging about $12,000 after federal tax incentives — they generate their own power (!) and can greatly reduce your electricity bill. Also, once they’re installed, they last a lifetime without needing repair or replacement. That sounds like an investment worth considering, huh?

 

10. BUY AN ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME

Ok, hear us out. We’re not advising you to sell your home and buy a new one just to be more energy efficient. However, if you’re already in the market for a new home, consider purchasing one that’s ENERGY STAR certified.

These homes have done it all, including installing energy-efficient appliances — like energy-efficient air conditioning & heating units — and following strict standards for air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, water conservation, and materials. Utility cost translation: They’re typically much cheaper to heat and cool.

If buying an already energy-efficient home isn’t a possibility, you can consider turning an energy guzzler into an eco-friendly house by taking out an energy-efficient mortgage for renovations (yes, that’s a thing). It’s important to ask about the home’s energy consumptions during the purchasing process. Inquire about past utility bills, for instance, to get an idea of how much energy the home is using. While some of these changes are easier to make than others, the important thing is that you’re interested in finding ways to make your home more environmentally sound. Whether you’re committed to running fewer warm laundry cycles or installing new, energy-efficient windows, any action is helpful. The planet — and your wallet — will thank you.

Source: Pod's Blog

2. Resources

Obtain resources for home energy efficency  here.

3. Training & Education

Learn about home energy efficency here.

Big wins for renewable energy in the ‘Build Back Better’ bill

The impact of electric transportation on pollution and reduced carbon emissions and fossil-fuel consumption is complicated.

Over the weekend, Democrats in the U.S. House released the first specifics of the Build Back Better plan within the $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill. The overall package is seen as the most significant legislative effort ever proposed to address climate change. Reconciliation requires only a simple majority of the House and Senate to pass.

So, what's in the Build Back Better bill for renewable energy? Here's a breakdown of the highlights.

Clean Electricity Performance Program

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator is making it easier to connect renewable energy resources to the grid.

The Build Back Better bill includes the Clean Electricity Performance Program (sometimes identified as the Clean Electricity Payment Program), which stands to make the biggest dent in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by cleaning up the grid. Beginning in 2023, the program would reward utilities that increase their share of clean energy by 4% per year with grants and punish utilities that fall short by imposing fees.

In the program's first year, utilities would be scored against their average clean electricity share in 2019 and 2020. The program would run through 2030.

In August, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told colleagues in a letter that President Biden's goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 50% compared to 2005 levels is within reach, in large part due to the proposed CEEP. Analysis of the program found that it would create nearly 8 million jobs by 2031.

Direct pay tax credits for renewable energy

The Build Back Better bill restores the production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) to their full values, and taxpayers are eligible for direct pay instead tax equity offsets.

"This allows entities with little or no tax liability to accelerate utilization of these credits, including tax-exempt and tribal entities," the bill summary reads.

For wind, solar, geothermal, landfill gas, and qualified hydropower projects commencing before 2032, the production tax credit provides a base credit rate of .5 cents/kWh and a bonus credit rate of 2.5 cents/kWh. The base and bonus credit rates phases down to 80% in 2032 and 60% in 2033.

The bill extends the ITC to 30% of full value with a base rate of 6% for property constructed by the end of 2031, then phasing down over two years. There are additional incentives for projects that utilize domestically-produced equipment and for those deployed in low-income communities. A recent study found that clean energy developers are unfairly burdened with transmission upgrade costs.

The ITC is expanded to include energy storage technology and linear generators, each eligible for a 6% base-credit rate or a 30% bonus credit rate through the end of 2031, before phasing down in 2032 and 2033.

Qualifying electric transmission projects and upgrades are eligible for an ITC with a base credit rate of 6% or a bonus credit rate of 30%. These projects are defined as being capable of transmitting electricity at a voltage greater than or equal to 275 kilowatts and having transmission capacity greater than or equal to 500 megawatats.

A new tax credit is created by the Build Back Better bill for clean hydrogen production beginning in 2022. The base rate of $0.60 or bonus rate of $3.00 is multiplied by the volume in kilograms of clean hydrogen produced during a taxable year.

Electric vehicles

The Build Back Better bill provides a refundable income tax credit for new qualified plug-in electric vehicles with a base amount of $4,000, plus an additional $3,500 for vehicles placed into service before Jan. 1, 2027, with battery capacity greater than or equal to 40 kWh, and for vehicles with a battery capacity of no less than 50-kilowatt hours thereafter.

The base amount increases to $4,500 for vehicles produced in the U.S. under a union-negotiated collective bargaining agreement. The base amount increases another $500 for vehicles with 50% or more domestically-produced content. Beginning in 2027, the credit will only apply to vehicles with final assembly in the U.S.

Purchasers of pre-owned, plug-in electric vehicles would be eligible for a new refundable credit through 2031. Buyers can claim a base credit of $1,250 for qualified electric vehicles.

Sustainable fuels

The Build Back Better bill extends income and excise tax credits for biodiesel and biodiesel mixtures at $1 per gallon through 2031. The $0.10-per gallon small agri-biodiesel producer credit and $0.50-per-gallon excise tax credits for alternative fuels and alternative fuel mixtures are extended through 2031.

There's also a refundable blenders tax credit for each gallon of sustainable aviation fuel sold as part of a qualified fuel mixture.

"The value of the credit is determined on a sliding scale, equal to $1.25 plus an additional $.01 for each percentage point by which the lifecycle emissions reduction of such fuel exceeds 50%. Taxpayers may elect to claim this credit as an excise tax credit against section 4041 excise tax liability," the bill summary says.

Source: Renewable Energy World

4. Implementation

Learn how to implement home energy efficiency here.

5. Collaborate & Exemplify

Collaborate with people in your community who use home energy efficiency and see how its done here.

6. Community Champions & Partners

Learn about community champions or partners who have (or are) using home energy efficiency or contribute to the establishment of home energy efficiency here.

Image by Marija Zaric

Powerwall gives you the ability to store energy for later use and works with solar to provide key security and financial benefits. Each Powerwall system is equipped with energy monitoring, metering and smart controls for owner customization using the Tesla app. The system learns and adapts to your energy use over time and receives over-the-air updates to add new features and enhance existing ones.

Powerwall & Powerwall+

Powerwall is a rechargeable home battery system that is installed with solar. A Powerwall system can be composed of up to 10 Powerwalls, including a combination of Powerwall+ and traditional Powerwalls. A Powerwall+ contains additional features focusing on solar integration that enable cleaner installations with less equipment.

Integrated revenue-grade energy metering can help you accurately monitor your solar production and home energy consumption for precise, real-time insight to your home energy, claim credit for clean energy incentives and be ready to join future virtual power plants. Powerwall+ is able to intelligently power heavy equipment, and direct solar integration improves solar recharging during power outages, resulting in a better off-grid experience than ever before.

Source: Tesla

7. Repeat

If you have completed this process, complete it with your neighbor and become a community champion or partner.