Living a More Energy Efficient Lifestyle – Designing Spaces

Do you know what mortgage insurance is? If you want to buy your first home, it may be just what you need. We talked with an expert. Electric vehicles we commonly call golf cars are coming into their own. Today, we go to Georgia to see how they are convenient and fun, and we'll check out the different styles and models. What can you do to make your home more energy efficient? We visit one energy efficient home and get with the experts to see what the home owner has done to reduce their utility bills. This is the show all about you and your space. Your home and your surroundings. We are Designing Spaces: Think Green. (music) Integrated energy solutions are making our homes more energy efficient.

We go to one home in Maryland to see how energy efficiency works towards lower utility bills, and a greener lifestyle. Energy efficiency is a major part of living a greener lifestyle. Creating an energy efficient home not only reduces stress on the environment, and the energy infrastructure, it helps you manage your energy and may lower your energy bill. (music). Think Green visited this home in Maryland to talk with energy experts from Constellation. This is Christina Gregory. The US Department of Energy says it's important to not just look at your heating and cooling, but to take a whole house approach when you think about energy efficiency. When thinking about your total energy bill, you should know your options for buying gas and electricity. Half your energy costs go to heating and cooling your home. This is Brian Recor, and he's here to tell us a little bit more about the homes cooling and heating. When you know it's time to upgrade your HVAC system, typically is when it's over 15 years old.

What you want to do is you don't want to wait until the system breaks down. You want to be able to be ahead of that. Today's modern high efficiency heating and cooling systems, with the latest technology, use less energy to run, which in turn makes them less expensive to run. So, the best way to go about doing that is find a trusted company like Constellation Home that can help walk you through the different steps. Typically, when we get to a home owner's home, what we're looking for is we're trying to decide what system best matches their budget. So, if no upgrade is needed, there are simple projects home owners can do. Make sure your vents aren't blocked. Change your air filter. The harder your system has to work to move the air, the less efficient it will be and the more it will cost for you to operate. If you're a do-it-yourself type person, they can also install a programmable thermostat.

Programmable thermostats typically will save you about $180 a year, and are fairly simple to install, so you can actually set your temperatures based on your schedule. The programmable thermostat will turn down when you're not at home. Customers look to Constellation for competitive energy rates to protect their budget and for suggestions on how to make their home more energy efficient. Christina Jenkins is here to tell us more. Nowadays, people are looking for a trusted advisor, someone to help them understand, and what's going on in the energy market, because there's lots of changes, and obviously energy prices fluctuate. Shopping for electricity and natural gas is potentially a way that you can save money on your energy bill. Other than the actual HVAC systems themselves, there are other factors that affect the energy required to cool or heat a home. You can look at your equipment and make sure it's working properly. Look at your insulation and make sure that you have enough of it.

Seal your house and check your thermostat. So, when you take this whole house approach, you can save approximately 30% on your energy bill. R-value is a number used to measure the effectiveness of insulation and resist heat flow. A company like Constellation Home will actually come in and check the R-value. The higher the number, the more effective the insulation. Talk to an expert to find out what type, and amount of installation, your home needs. One of the places you really want to concentrate on would be your attic. If your attic insulation, if you don't have enough attic insulation, your air conditioning system is going to work harder than it needs to. However, you don't want the house to be sealed too tight. There still should be a recommended amount of air exchange.

For a healthy indoor air quality, fresh air can be brought in through controlled ventilation. (music). We've now looked at several ways to potentially reduce your energy bill. Now, we can look to the other high energy user in the home, such as hot water heaters. This is Constellation chief marketing officer, Bruce Stewart. One, you can look at the age itself. If you've got something that's about 10 years old, you might want to assess the opportunity to look at an upgraded version of the hot water heater as well. There's rebates out there that can help you afford these things, which are really important. If you have natural gas, there are two types of efficient water heaters. Tankless water heaters, and condensing water heaters.

It's important to maintain your system, especially when upgrading to more efficient systems, and while maintaining the life of your existing ones. HVAC maintenance is important, because you should get an annual checkup on all your systems. When your systems are working effectively, it saves energy for your home. We'll make sure that the system is operating at its peak efficiency by ensuring that the system is clean, and actually operating safely. We also check the refrigerant charge on the system, and also clean the coils. A lot of time your outdoor coil will have dust and pollen. It will need to be cleaned annually. With a typical maintenance plan, you don't have to worry about unexpected repairs to your heating and cooling system and water heater. In many states in the country, you have the option to shop for competitive energy rates, where independent suppliers, like Constellation provide competitive rates and make budgeting simple.

Shopping for both electricity and natural gas is an easy way to potentially save money on your energy bill. So, in some states, customers can actually choose who supplies their electricity and natural gas, other than the local utility. Your local utility will still continue to maintain the wires and pipes and deliver your electricity and natural gas today. This is a great way to lock in a fixed rate, and not worry about a fluctuating supply rate. It makes it much easier to anticipate and budget for your monthly energy bill. You can go online and you can actually compare both electric and natural gas plans, or you can visit Constellation.com and compare rates in your area. Visit DesigningSpaces.tv to see this portion of the show again. You'll also find a link to the Constellation.com website. (music). Making a space you can call home. Living the lifestyle you desire. IT's what we are all about.

We are Designing Spaces. For more information about anything you have seen on today's show, or to find out how to be part of the show, log on to DesigningSpaces.tv. You can visit these websites to learn more about the participants on this edition of Designing Spaces..