You can replace incandescent lights with high-efficiency fluorescent or LED fixtures. You can replace old appliances with “Energy Star” appliances that will reduce energy consumption and lower your utility bills. Anyone planning home renovations should consider using sustainable materials during construction. This will improve the quality and health of your indoor environment by reducing the toxic off-gassing in our homes from newly-manufactured items that release volatile organic compounds and other chemicals. Reducing waste, recycling and composting of organic materials also requires a minimal change in behavior but has a large impact both on you and your community. There are many new compost collection services that have sprung up the past decade and will collect your organic materials for composting weekly for a small fee. Most municipalities now offer free weekly recycling programs.
More costly projects might involve analyzing the exterior envelope and the heating and cooling systems of the building through an energy audit. Energy audits are broken down into three levels. Level 1 addresses the “low-hanging fruit” topics discussed above. Level 2 analyzes the consumption of energy within a building and identifies potential operational and maintenance changes that can be made to improve energy efficiency. Level 3 investigates deeper, potential energy savings that may include the addition of insulation at exterior walls and green roofs to create a tight building envelope and to reduce heating and cooling needs. Level 3 is typically called the “investment grade” energy audit as most recommendations focus on capital-intensive projects. Promoting natural daylight with the addition of skylights or solar tubes could also be utilized during construction or any renovations of an existing building. In the end, a good energy audit and the auditor’s recommendations will assist in the reduction of energy consumption of the homeowner. Since energy prices will continue to increase in the future, communities should consider large-scale, community-wide projects to reduce energy consumption and introduce cost savings to homeowners.
Falcon Engineering, Architecture & Energy Consulting
33 Dixwell Ave. #144
New Haven, CT 06511