You might be thinking, "that's not a renewable energy!" but energy efficiency is actually the biggest bang for your buck in renewable energies available today. The most effective dollar invested in renewables is the one you never have to spend!
A more efficient refrigerator or water-heating system can pay for itself in reduced energy costs in a remarkably short time. For proof, take a look at Energy Star's refrigerator replacement webpage. The best part about this lesser-known renewable energy source is that the investment cost is much lower than that of solar, wind or other energy sources. It could even be as low as the tens or low hundreds of dollars when you replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents or LED lighting. Even adding power strips that can turn off your 'phantom load' devices when not in use -- televisions, computers, anything with a remote control or a cube on the plug -- can save precious energy and money.
Another route to take is re-insulating your home with something more effective and safe like spray-in soy-based foam. If you're in the enviable position of building a new home from the ground up, the potential for energy-saving measures is huge. With smart design and proper insulation you may eliminate the need for cooling, drastically reduce the need for heating and integrate renewable energies seamlessly, even invisibly, into a beautiful home. And you can wrap the additional 3 to 4% cost of renewable energy into your home loan.
Don't forget: there may be local, state or national incentives for your efficiency efforts! Also check out Energy Star's energy efficiency tax credit page.
We offer assistance with many aspects of designing a home for energy efficiency or independence. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you with:
- designing the building envelope for maximum efficiency and cost benefit.
- renewable power project installation, management or field supervision to ensure a contractor installs correctly.
- generating a Mechanical Bid Submittal Package for you to present to contractors for apples-to-apples bid comparisons.
- generating a Formal Mechanical System.
- a computer-generated building energy-load calculation.
And don't forget that we offer many super-efficient appliances and building materials in our Sustainable Living SourceBook!