Retrofitting a building to fit modern energy technologies is both good for the environment and cost effective for the building owner. In addition, such retrofits actually help to stimulate our national economy. In fact, in 2010 the White House itself hoped that energy saving retrofits would save middle class families hundreds of dollars a year in energy costs, while also improving their comfort level within their homes, offering a return on their upgrade investment and helping to create jobs as more companies were employed to do these energy upgrades and products were purchased. But can retrofits really save YOU money, as a home owner or small business owner? The answer is a resounding yes, even if occasionally that return on investment takes some time.
A Study in Savings One charity organization conducted a study of 19,000 affordable housing units within the city of New York. These units had recently received a variety of energy upgrades. The study found that fuel bills were down by 19% and electricity bills were down 10% on average for these units. The average apartment in the study was saving $310 a year in fuel and electricity costs after the retrofit. Another tenement in the same city performed a retrofit on their boilers and heating controls. This retrofit cut fuel costs in half, causing a sizeable savings of anywhere between $355 and $550 per year, per unit.
In today’s modern world, energy saving technologies are improving every year – every day. Solar panels, for example, are becoming extremely more efficient each year. Energy Star labeling encourages manufacturers to always strive for better, as the requirements for Energy Star certification are raised every time half of the models available in any appliance or electronic category meet current standards. This means that even replacing a unit that is just a year or two old can equal an energy savings for many appliances and electronics. Of course, you also have to balance this with the fact that buying new creates more waste as the old must be disposed of. Certainly the older your insulation, wiring, boiler, air conditioner, refrigerator and so on is, the more of a savings can be realized by upgrading them.
How You Can Save You can save in many ways, both small and large. In fact, there are many ways that you can save just by updating your habits rather than your appliances. Simply changing the way that you do things can save you money on energy. Other changes can include upgrading to energy savings appliances when the old ones break down or installing completely new systems today.
Adjust Your Habits: The easiest and least costly way to save energy is to change your habits. For example, adjusting your thermostat just a couple of degrees warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter can create a noticeable difference on your energy bill. Turning off the lights when you are not in a room or shutting down your hot water heater when you go on vacation are all ways to experience a noticeable energy savings with no money out of pocket.
Make Small Changes as Necessary: You can also realize big energy (and thus money) savings from minor retrofits as things breakdown. For example, if your hot water heater suddenly starts leaking consider an upgrade to a modern tankless model. While slightly more expensive to buy, a tankless heater can save you a substantial amount of money, often making back the extra cost in just two or three years of use. If your ten year old, non-Energy Star fridge dies, replacing it with a new, Energy Star rated fridge can actually save you up to 25% on your electric bill a year.
Do Large Retrofits Now Another way to save money is to make upgrades right now. These can include small changes, such as replacing your traditional light bulbs with CFS, or better yet with LED lights. You can also install a geothermal heating system to take a huge bite out of your electric bill, or install a solar power system for an even bigger savings.
Whether you choose to go big or small, the facts are in: energy retrofits – from new insulation to new heating systems – can make a huge difference in your energy use. This can help save the environment and your check book all at the same time.