Heating and cooling your home uses more energy and more energy dollars than any other operation in your home. Did you know that an average Iowa family spends more than half of its annual household energy bill on heating and cooling? Much of it is spent on energy that is wasted through air leaks and poor insulation.
Unfortunately, this wasted energy not only takes a toll on the family income; the environment pays a heavy price. The electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars. In numbers, that breaks out to the following:
Heating and cooling systems in the United States produce:
- 150 million tons of carbon dioxide
- 12% of the nation's sulfur dioxide
- 4% of the nitrogen oxides that are emitted into the atmosphere every year
The utilities will help you make your home energy efficient!
MidAmerican Energy has teamed up with First American Bank to provide Iowa customers the opportunity to make energy-efficient improvements on their homes. In addition to lower monthly energy bills, residents who meet First American's credit qualification requirements and purchase and install qualifying equipment can further offset the costs of energy efficient windows, siding and roof insulation with competitive below-prime financing or six months same-as-cash payments. So they will pay you green' for going green'!
Windows and Doors
Many people concentrate on insulating their homes to make them more energy efficient, but the truth is that if you don't tighten up the air leaks in your home first, money spent on insulation may be wasted. Air leaks are the greatest source of heating and cooling losses in a home. By replacing old windows and doors with new ones that are Energy Star certified, you can make a dramatic difference in the amount you spend to heat your home.
Replacement windows, alone, can reduce your energy bill up to 15 percent. The money you would save in heating costs, along with the wide range of choices in beautiful new vinyl windows and doors now available to enhance the beauty and increase the value of your home, make replacing your windows and doors an excellent investment.
What to look for and steps to take:
- Energy Star windows and doors: approved by the Energy Star program
- Energy Star labels or equivalent custom labels.
- NFRC label, certifying that the product has been approved by the National Fenestration Rating Council
- Install new windows and doors correctly to avoid air leakage around the frames; look for a reputable, NARI qualified installer
Siding, Roofing and Insulation
Sealing and insulating the “envelope” of your home is likely to be the most effective way to improve comfort and energy efficiency. Once you have sealed the air leaks caused by your windows and doors, you will want to make sure that you are not having problems with wind entering or air escaping from your walls and your ceiling or roof. You will also want to protect yourself from outside temperatures with good insulation. Insulation keeps your home warm in the winter, slowing heat loss and helping to prevent condensation. In the summer, insulation reduces heat gain and helps to keep your home cool.
To make sure that your home is well insulated, first check to see if you have insulation in your walls, ceilings or attic. Only 20% of homes built before 1980 are well insulated. Most homes built during the mid 1950's or before do not even have insulated walls. You can check on your wall insulation by looking into the exterior wall cavity under paneling, behind electrical outlets (turn off the electricity before removing any electrical installations), or by looking down openings in the top plates of the exterior walls from your attic. Attic or upstairs ceiling insulation should be visible from your attic. Once you have seen how, if at all, your house is insulated, make note of where you need to add or replace the insulation that is there. When considering which type of insulation to use, pay attention to the R-value (or thermal resistance) of the insulation, which measures its ability to protect your house form heat loss or gain. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation is.
Key Siding, Roofing and Insulation Facts and Hints:
- Rigid foam Energy Star insulations that are used when re-roofing your home have a high insulating value for relatively little thickness and are extremely effective in sealing your house's envelope.
- Make sure to have Energy Star certified insulation used when re-roofing your house.
- You can obtain further benefits from choosing one of the reflective roofs available
- GAF was the first roofing manufacturer to produce an energy-efficient, richly colored asphalt shingle
- Prestique Cool shingles are Energy Star certified and slow heat build-up for a more energy-efficient home by reflecting the sun's rays with highly reflective granules and by more effectively releasing absorbed heat.
Helpful links to Energy Conservation Related Resources: