Milwaukee/NARI Members Offer Tips for Improved Insulation and Upgraded Appliances - Part 1

July 23, 2013

There are simple steps to help reduce a home’s energy costs that also benefit the environment, according to members of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for 52 years. Members provide advice for upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances and adding insulation in key areas to help reduce your utility bills.
Heating & Cooling

One way to make sure your heating system is running efficiently according to Doug Erdmann, Burkhardt Heating & A/C in Brown Deer, is to check the furnace filter and change it as needed. “A clean filter helps air flow so a furnace and/or air conditioner would not need to run as much and makes the home cleaner and healthier,” said Erdmann.

A smart strategy to save money on your heating bill during the winter is to not heat an empty house. Erdmann’s suggestion to homeowners is to “set back the thermostat when your home is unoccupied and during sleeping hours. Doing so will save dollars and energy by not maintaining higher heating or lower cooling temperatures when it isn't needed,” he added.

Modernizing your existing air-conditioning system to one with the latest energy standards is a smart way to be environmentally friendly while being energy efficient. “Replace central air conditioners that use Freon with air conditioners that use new R410A Puron refrigerant that according to the EPA is more environmentally friendly and doesn't attach itself to the ozone layers like the Freon does,” said Erdmann. He also suggests that homeowners upgrade their furnace to a high efficiency two-stage variable speed unit. “That unit will save over 33 percent on gas and electric bills from even a standard high efficiency furnace,” said Erdmann.
Energy Efficient Appliances and Lighting

“Front loading washing machines use new technology to make them work better by using less water and less time, saving as much as eight gallons of water per load,” said Julie Herriges CKBR, WRID, Urban Herriges & Sons in Mukwonago. “One of the new washing machines on the market has technology that injects soap directly into clothes resulting in faster, more efficient cleaning, and faster wash times save energy. Beyond brand names, I advise homeowners to look for the ENERGY STAR Label,” she added.

“Replacing your old refrigerator with a new ENERGY STAR refrigerator can save you from $200.00 to $1,100.00 dollars over the appliances’ lifetime,” said Herriges. “Some of the new refrigerators are rated CEE Tier One, which is the most efficient and have cool features like interior LED lighting and a built in LCD screen with apps in the door,” she added.

Another area in the home where you can generate a great deal of energy savings over relatively short times is in your kitchen. Herriges suggests you look for appliances that use energy more efficiently. “Induction cooktops are 90 to 95 percent efficient. No heat is wasted because energy is supplied directly to the cooking vessel,” said Herriges. “You have all the heat control that gas has to offer, while using a potentially renewable resource like electric. It also has the added advantages of not heating up the room, which during the cooling session saves money as well,” she added.

LED lighting is the trend of the future according to Herriges. “In the past, LED bulbs may have seemed too expensive for the average homeowner, but when you take into consideration that the average LED last 10-times longer then compact fluorescent bulbs and much, much longer then an incandescent bulb, plus the more efficient use of energy the price is more competitive then it seems,” she said. “LED lights also do not contain Mercury as CFL do. Some manufacturers now offer affordable and attractive LED light fixtures for use as undercounted lights, recessed cans, and decorative pendent lights,” Herriges added.

Growing up, your parents always reminded you to shut off the lights when you left a room. It is a common sense approach to saving energy and money. Herriges believes modern technology provides an even better way to manage energy usage. “Motion sensors and timers are a good way to save energy by making sure the lights are only on when you need them,” said Herriges. “A good example of this is a motion sensing switch for a bathroom or driveway,” she added.

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