We all want our homes to be more energy efficient, but how can we do it? A panel of experts got together at the Scarsdale Scout House on Wednesday to help teach Scarsdale's homeowners learn how to save money while also saving the environment.
"This is part of a series that we designed for homeowners to show them how to make their homes more environmentally responsible and more energy efficient," said Michael Murphy, of Murphy Brothers Contracting, who moderated the event.
Some of the topics touched upon included high performance insulation, geothermal heating/air conditioning systems, and solar panels, all of which are options for improved energy efficiency.
"I have yet to be in a home that didn't have an opportunity to improve on one of those fronts," said Judy Martin, founder & principal of Green Home Consulting, and a speaker at the event.
Other panelists were Chris Puleo, Vice-President & Energy Consultant for Green Star Energy Solutions; Bill Valus, Co-Owner of Encon; and Anthony Conklin, Senior Solar Design Consultant and Professional Speaker for Mercury Solar Systems Inc. Each of them gave their professional perspectives on how to build blocks for an energy efficient home.
So what can your average Scarsdale homeowner do to start improving his energy efficiency?
"The first thing I'd recommend would be to hire a professional who's an expert in home energy efficiency," said Martin. She suggested that homeowners look into both high-performance insulation and air sealing, which are measures that help prevent outside air from leaking into your home.
As outside air travels through your house, it can carry the air from your conditioning system with it, severely impacting your energy efficiency. It can also make your home uncomfortably hotter or colder, depending on the weather.
"Insulation and air sealing are like a hat and boots for your home," Martin said. In an ideal home, she explained, the air would turn over once every three hours. But in typical homes, air is usually turning over 4-6 times per hour, and you'll either have to re-cool it or re-heat it, which takes a lot of energy and ramps up costs.
"If you can cut down that number of turnovers, you can drastically improve the efficiency of your home," she said.
The panelists also described a state incentive that can refund homeowners 10% of what they spend on energy efficiency professional consultants. Federal tax credits can also help alleviate the costs.
"It's a very small investment that will pay off right away," said Murphy.
But if you don't want to go through major home adjustments, you can start small, Martin said. Stick to energy efficient appliances, maintain your cooling/heating systems twice a year to make sure they're working at optimal levels, and go with LED lighting as opposed to incandescent or fluorescent options. Even the smallest steps can help you save both energy and money.