Summer is right around the corner. That means higher power bills. This doesn't have to be the case though. With a little foresight and some creative ingenuity, your Atlanta home can go from mean to green. For starters, conduct a home energy audit to find out where you can reduce or even eliminate areas of wasted energy consumption. There may even be tax benefits for some!
Many homes still use incandescent bulbs for lighting. But it is an extremely inefficient method. Incandescent bulbs only convert about 10 percent of the energy they receive into light; the other 90 percent is converted into heat. Typically about six percent of your power bill comes from lights, so in essence you're paying for service you're not getting if you still use incandescent bulbs. Also, from Oct. 4-6 homeowners in Atlanta who purchase energy efficient products (up to $1500) receive a 100% tax exemption on the purchase.
Compact fluorescent Lights (CFLs) are the preferred method for green energy enthusiasts. They are a little more expensive, but they are well worth it in long-term value. CFLs generate about 100 lumens per watt as opposed to 17 lumens per watt for incandescents. They last far longer than traditional bulbs as well; the average 60-watt incandescent has a 1000-hour life span. CFLs last about 10 times that.
Another green option is LED (light emitting diode) lighting. LEDs are more efficient than either CFLs or incandescents, generating about 200 lumens per watt and using far less total watts (six to eight). Also, the lifespan of the average LED bulb is more than five times that of other bulbs.
The easiest way to lower your energy costs in this area is to check your insulation. Depending upon the age of your home, you may have inadequate insulation to meet current standards. After you've checked, replaced and/or added insulation, check your HVAC system. How old is it? If it's more than about 15 years old, you need to consider having it replaced with a newer, energy star rated system. This may seem like an unnecessary expense, but what you pay up front will save you thousands over the years. Even if you don't decide on an energy star system, pay attention to your old system's SEER rating. If it's below 12, it definitely needs to be replaced.
Most, if not all new consumer appliances are much more efficient than those of yesteryear. As with the HVAC system, owning energy star rated appliances (refrigerators, washer/dryers, etc.) can drastically cut your personal energy expenses and they have the added benefit of being green-energy friendly. It's not unheard of for these types of appliances to save homeowners 20-30 percent more than non-rated appliances.
You may not feel you have the expertise or acumen to do this on your own. Have an Atlanta-area contractor conduct a professional audit and go over with you any work that needs to be done.