Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame

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Efficiency Upgrades that Really Save

March 20, 2017

Peter Bauer
Dr. Peter Bauer

You may want a greener, more energy-efficient home because it’s good for the environment, but it’s also good for your wallet.

Energy is expensive, with the average American consumer spending nearly $2,000 per year on energy bills, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. About half of that number is spent on heating and cooling costs.

What energy-efficient products for the home offer the best return on investment?

“The answer to this question depends on the exact situation of the home – what the current insulation, lighting and appliances are,” said Peter Bauer, professor in the College of Engineering and in the Center for Sustainable Energy at University of Notre Dame. “However, for older homes that have not been re-insulated in all but the most moderate climates, insulation is almost always a good investment.”

Lighting
“The cost and quality of LED lighting has also come down to such an extent that from both a financial and environmental perspective it almost always pays off quickly to replace incandescent lights with LED lights. The only exception to this would be in places where the lights are very rarely used. For example, the light in a remote corner of a basement is so rarely used that it is probably not worth replacing with an LED,” Bauer said.

Heating
“Electric water heaters have superior efficiency simply because practically all the energy is converted to heating the water in the jar. Ovens and microwaves lose efficiency by also heating their surroundings,” Bauer said.

Heat pumps
If the temperature differential between inside and outside is not too high, heat pumps can have an extremely high efficiency. “Unfortunately, installation can be expensive, especially if the thermal exchange occurs in the ground rather than the air,” he said.

 

— Melissa Erickson, More Content Now

Published originally:
The Gillette News Record (Mar. 18, 2017)

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