Bob & Rodman – Small changes can produce energy-efficient results

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Men laying new hardwood flooring

Greening up your home and saving energy dollars—not to mention the environment—is sort of like eating a five-course meal; you do it one bite at a time. Sure, modern technology offers full-bore solutions that convert your domicile into the paradigm of energy efficiency. Every structural or mechanical member from green roofing to turbine-powered electrical systems reduce the energy and carbon load. Celebrities Bill Nye and Ed Begley are in a race to add every new product in the enviromarket to their California homes, but few of us are in a position to exercise that option.

Thankfully, small changes can produce satisfying results. A can of low-expansion foam will seal penetrations in the home envelope, reducing loss of conditioned air. Weather stripping accomplishes the same thing around doors and window sashes. Inexpensive shrink-wrap window treatments improve the performance of old single-pane windows. For a few dollars, your home’s heating or cooling costs are reduced.

Roll or loose attic insulation is another inexpensive way to reduce energy costs during both the heating and cooling seasons. With proper precautions, this is a practical DIY project. Concentrate your efforts in the attic where returns are best realized.

We all learned a major conservation tactic from our mothers: “Turn off that light if you’re not using it,” or words to that effect. Turn off the light, convert to compact florescent bulbs and unplug chargers when not in use. A group of little bites add up to measurable savings. Not huge, surely, but maybe enough for a pair of Braves tickets next season.
Re-roofing is a big outlay, so you save this tactic for when the time comes. Go with the lightest color shingles you can tolerate. High-tech reflective underlayment is much touted, but light shingles operate on the same principle without the added expense. Check for attic ventilation, too. Attic cooling can be impaired by soffit vents that have been painted over or clogged by attic insulation or by improperly positioned roof or gable vents. A few properly placed trees help out, as well. Leaves shade the home in summer, but bare branches let the sun through in winter, acting as passive temperature control.

But it is not all about energy. Water waste is a real consideration. Homeowner or professional attention to what might seem to be “trivial” leaks can save hundreds of dollars a year and thousands of gallons of water. Tankless water heaters and recycling hot water systems reduce energy costs. Even the old rain barrel is making a comeback, especially since drought conditions were in place again. Easy fixes, inexpensive fixes and homeowner-friendly fixes will help you get your energy costs down without following the turn-your-home-into-a-spaceship approach. Keep a notebook of your progress and see if the plan proves true.

Bob-and-Rodman

Tune in to The Bob and RodMan Home Show every Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. on 920 AM-WGKA to learn how to improve your house or apartment. RodMan is a certified home inspector, knows residential property appraisal and is a hands-on home renovator. Bob owned a roofing company, has reclaimed distressed properties for years and has Master Licenses as a plumber, electrician and HVAC mechanic. www.bobandrodman.com

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