Saving money on utilities is great – installing technology in your home that is good for your wallet
and good for the environment is even better.
There was a time, not too long ago, when there wasn’t much a homeowner could do in the way of
reducing their utility bills except of course to refrain from turning anything on.
While not using your home’s many appliances is, admittedly, still the best way to lower your home’s
energy consumption (and by extension, the cost and environmental footprint that goes along with it),
it’s by no means the most practical solution.
Naturally, there are some appliances that we can all do without – but when it comes to ensuring a
constant supply of hot water or maintaining a comfortable ambient temperature, turning off your
water heater or HVAC system isn’t an option.
With that in mind, there are a number of products available that are perfectly suited to satisfying
both the need be green, and the need to save a little bit of it.
“Saving money on utilities is great!
Installing technology in your home
that is good for your wallet and good
for the environment is even better.”
Solar Heat Pumps
In terms of taking advantage of an abundant and clean energy source, there’s no denying that solar
heat pumps are without equal.
Solar heat pumps, powered using photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted on a home’s roof, collect and
store electricity so that appliances like a water heater, air conditioning unit, and furnace can operate
without subjecting the owner to fluctuating energy prices.
The nice thing about using solar PV panels with a highly efficient tankless water heater (which is
essentially designed to heat water on demand, not to mention that it uses far less energy than
a conventional water heater), excess solar energy that is not used can be sold to the utility company –
further helping to reduce your home’s net energy costs.
Ductless, Mini-Split Heat Pumps
Admittedly, before a home renovation project can begin, even one that promises to lower monthly
costs and reduce emissions, there are financial considerations that need to be taken into account.
For example, reinforcing a one hundred year-old roof to support the added weight of a PV solar
panel array doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Likewise, in a home that uses a ductless hydronic heat system (hot water heat), it may not be
cost effective to incorporate that kind of system into a newly constructed addition.
A ductless, mini-split heat pump can be a great solution for a homeowner that is looking to add
heating and cooling to a room that is used infrequently, such as a guest room.
Though it doesn’t draw power from the sun per se, a mini-split is controlled independently from
the rest of the home’s heating and cooling system, and can help keep costs down by only drawing
energy only when it’s in use.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Using another form of renewable energy, geothermal heat pump systems use a series of liquid-filled
pipes buried beneath your lawn as a means to transfer the soil’s heat to a heat exchanger.
This system takes advantage of the fact that the temperature of the earth is constant all year round,
make it an option for cooling and heating!
While perhaps the most costly to install and maintain, a geothermal heat pump is more reliable than
PV panels in terms of energy collection (the Sun’s rays are more intense at certain times of the day/year
whereas the heat found in the earth is constant).
Given enough time, geothermal heat pumps will pay for themselves—and other than the excavation process,
has a very limited environmental impact—while having by far the lowest energy requirements in regions
where it’s feasible.
Water Heating Options
When it comes to water heater efficiency and ecological impact, the question isn’t necessarily whether
to go with a unit that is powered with natural gas or electricity (though to some, this is still a contentious
debate), it’s whether you should go with a conventional water heater or a tankless water heater.
Though they’re designed to consume fewer resources than their predecessors, a conventional water heater,
as insulated as it is, will always lose heat – that’s simply the immutable laws of thermodynamics at work.
Furthermore, a boiler-style water heater is designed to maintain a certain temperature at all times, even
when there is no need for producing hot water.
A tankless water heater on the other hand heats water only when it is needed – a process that obviously
requires fewer resources, regardless as to whether the resources come in the form of electricity or natural gas.
Have you considered the benefits of energy-saving heating options?
What energy saving heating options have your used in your home?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.