Getting Austin Homes Energy-Ready for Summer
published on April 8, 2013
Of the total electricity used annually by Central Austin homes, almost half is used during four months: June, July, August, and September. From condos downtown to homes on Lake Austin, electric bills are two to four times larger during summer months than during spring and winter! What gives?
Older Homes are Wasting Energy
The average 15 to 20-year-old home is wasting 20 to 30 percent of the power it uses through inefficiencies. Here’s a breakdown of energy loss sources:
– Air Conditioner: A 15 to 20-year-old-air conditioner uses 40 percent more electricity than today’s high efficiency models
– Air Ducts: On average, 15 to 20-year-old homes leak one-third of air conditioning and heating into the attic through a duct system that needs patching or replacement
– Attic Insulation: A 15 to 20-year-old home on average needs six additional inches of attic insulation
– Home Envelope: 5 to 10 percent of heating and cooling can escape a home through leaks around windows, entry doors, plumbing that extends out of the wall under sinks, electrical outlets, and inside entry doors to attics
Largest Rebates Ever Available
Right now, with the help of a federal grant, Austin Energy is providing the largest package of rebates ever on home energy efficiency improvements. Last year, 2,600 residential customers used rebates or low interest loans to make whole house energy efficiency improvements. Why?
These rebates pay almost one-third of efficiency improvements! Energy savings for residents making all efficiency improvements averaged about 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, essentially giving them a free month of summer energy use. Plus, home-owners can get a low interest loan at very reasonable terms to pay any remaining up-front costs.
How to Get Started
Central Texans can call any of the 50 heating and air conditioning companies participating in the Austin Energy program, and schedule a free home energy assessment (a list of the companies is available at the Austin Energy website). The company will assess what improvements are needed and outline all rebates available to help pay the cost.
If a resident decides to make the improvements, Austin Energy will send an energy efficiency technician to review the proposed list. That technician will return to review the completed work, and process the rebate. For more information, check out the Austin Energy website or call (512) 974-7827.
Tips for Reducing Energy Use
Meanwhile, ten percent of home power use could be avoided through daily diligence. The City of Austin offers the following tips to help homeowners from Avery Ranch to Circle C reduce summer electricity use:
– Keep every light in the house off unless needed. Switch incandescent bulbs to CFLs. They use much less energy and give off much less heat – helping to reduce AC needs.
– Use ceiling fans to reduce AC needs. Fans will keep the house significantly cooler overnight.
– Keep curtains closed on windows hit by direct sunlight to avoid heat buildup in your home or apartment.
– Replace AC filters every month during summer. Dirty filters make an AC run longer.
– Install power strips to easily turn off appliances when not in use, such as computers, printers, paper shredders, TVs, and recorders. (A plasma TV with a recorder-capable cable box and DVD recorder draws power 24/7 and can use $15 worth of electricity per month when not in use!)
– Set the thermostat to 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter. Each degree cooler or warmer will increase energy use by 6 to 8%. For instance, setting your thermostat at 72 in the summer could increase energy use by up to 40%!
On the lookout for an energy-efficient Austin home for sale? The REALTORS® at Regent Property Group help luxury home-buyers stay on top of the latest in green home trends, from Rob Roy to Seven Oaks.
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