When You Save Energy, You Save Money

By Patty L. Buchanan

We just took steps to reduce our energy consumption.  This means we’ll also save money.  My husband and I recently completed a three-day laser focused home energy efficiency remediation project.  Our custom-tailored project consisted of two parts:  (1) pulling out fiberglass insulation that was in poor condition and was falling out of the rafters, which had rendered our small attic space one of the biggest energy wasting places in our house and resealing our attic with foam insulation; and (2) sealing each and every crevice and crack in each and every one of our doors, window frames, exterior beam seams and exterior floor seams.  We are likely to save about 33% in our energy use each year, which will reduce our home energy costs.  And, this should improve air quality, eliminate drafts and temperature imbalances in our home which have developed as gaps in joints expanded as our 10-year old house has settled over the years.  If you haven’t given much thought to how your home’s air flow effects your health, comfort and energy use, now is a great time to find out and do something about it.

We used one of the top-rated home energy services for this work:  Healthy Home Energy & Consultants, (HHEC) based in Yorktown, New York.  

Our project started with an air sealing pressure test that measured the air leakage in our home though the use of a blower door setup, along with infrared thermal imaging.  Through this process we learned that our home (that is generally well insulated and has high energy efficient windows) had 68% excess air flow.

The Building Airflow Standard (BAS) for our home is 3,332 CFM50 (cubic feet per minute under 50 Pascals of pressure).  Our air leakage measurement was 5,597 CFM50.  

Infrared thermal imaging was used to identify the specific areas of windows, doors and seams where there was air flow leakage.  HHEC returned within a week of the tests with a detailed proposal with recommendations, costs and guaranteed energy use savings.  Specifically, HHEC guaranteed they could reduce our air leakage by 30% to 3,900 CFM50.

We proceeded with most of their recommendations.  We opted to omit adding insulation in the ceiling of our garage as we did not think we would see much energy efficiency improvement and it was not cost effective.  HHEC was helpful in guiding us on where we would get most bang for our buck and where we could cut back because of a tight budget.  Upon completion of the work to seal areas where we had air leakage, HHEC repeated the air leakage test with the blower door setup.  

We were delighted to see that by tightening up all the seals and replacing the poor fiberglass insulation with high energy efficient foam insulation in our small attic, our air leakage was reduced from 5,597 CFM50 to just 3,761 CFM50.  

This home improvement project fit well with Croton100’s mission because it relies on a quantifiable way to step-down our energy use. 

You may be wondering, how does tightening up your home improve your health?  The Healthy Home Energy Consultation will explain how air leakage can contribute to particulate allergens, chemicals and moisture imbalances in your home.  Better yet, if you are in a position to scrap a fossil fuel burning heating system, you can eliminate carbon monoxide and some particulate pollution from your home’s air.     

There’s even better news to share.  HHEC is currently teaming up with Croton Energy Group (solar installer) and 123 CountyHVAC (heating/cooling air pump installer) by providing “Croton’s Green New Deal.”  This is an exciting new business model with three local green energy businesses coming together to work cooperatively in helping homeowners make a plan for reducing their carbon emissions, saving money, and improving their health.  By calling (914) 827-2710, you can arrange for a one-stop shopping free 30-minute video consultation with these energy experts who take a holistic approach in helping you to learn about your home’s energy systems.  You can learn more about the services each of these local businesses provide and how they work together.  You can discuss your priorities, budget, the unique design aspects of your home, your current energy use and reduction goals, and they can guide you to the next steps toward energy reduction solutions.  

Full disclosure here:  Croton100’s Carbon Tracker Leader Leo Wiegman is a co-owner in Croton Energy Group, Jon Davey, who is one of the founding Members of our partner organization Yorktown100, is a Partner in Healthy Home Energy & Consultants.  My husband and I did not actually go through the Green New Deal consultation process because the Croton Energy Group had already installed our 13.14  kWdc ground mounted solar system last year ­–before the Local Green New Deal was formed–  and we already have air sourced heat pumps that we use to heat and cool our home.  We met HHEC at a vendor table at a climate summit in lower Westchester last Fall.  For us, doing a home energy assessment and following through on recommended work was a remaining low hanging fruit in our quest to reduce our energy use after we tackled the big hitters.  For many homeowners, however, a home energy audit is a great first step for reducing energy use, saving money and improving health, because installing your own solar system and switching your fossil fuel heating system to air or ground sourced heat pumps can be more expensive.

On top of saving money by reducing our energy consumption, we were also enticed by the $1,000 NYSERDA subsidy that lowered our cost for this home energy efficiency tune-up.  Each of the businesses in the Green New Deal are NYSERDA partners and can explain your eligibility for NYSERDA vouchers for energy reduction projects.  There are other vendors who can also guide you, do not hesitate to research the best fit for your needs.  

These days when we are wondering how we can help build a green economy and support local business, setting up a consultation with energy experts is one way you can take steps to be the change you want to see in the world.   

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