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The New Year and your home


Once again, the New Year is here and we make all kinds of plans. This year I am going to lose weight, drink less coffee and be nicer to my dog. (These are examples, not my resolutions — I love my dog!)

But this year, I really think is the time to make improvements that have a long-term energy proposition for you. Below are some ideas on what and why:

Tankless water heaters. You have heard all about these and most likely read the pros and cons. I am a fan and believer in this appliance. You will have endless hot water, use little or no energy when the units are off, and will have a much longer life cycle and efficiency rating long term. Tank heaters last on average 7-10 years; tankless units last on average 20 years. Tank units can run out of hot water, tankless units will never run out. Tank units cost about $1,500 to install professionally, a tankless about $2,500-$3,500 depending on the size. While these units are more expensive upfront, the long term value for your home makes it a smart investment.

LED lighting for your home. This technology has improved leaps and bounds in the past five years. The longevity of the diode is well known on average 50,000 hours compared to a regular incandescent bulb of 2,000 hours. Under normal usage that’s about 30 years. The big improvement has been the light output and color temperature. There are residential LED bulbs that cost about $12-$15 that look like standard bulbs in shape and color. Try replacing the 6 most used bulbs in your home first to see if you like them, after that change out the whole house and bring down your monthly energy costs for lighting and never replace a burned-out bulb again.

Wind and solar power. This is another area that has improved greatly in the last 5 years. There are several manufacturers of wind turbines that can mount on your home and generate up to 20 percent of your homes energy. I have seen units that can be installed for as little as $8,000. A lot of money, yes, but many states offer up to a 50 percent tax credit on these. Solar panels can now be integrated into your roofing shingles. No more large panels. These shingles go right on your roof and can generate up to 50 percent of your homes energy needs. The best part of both of these systems is that, when your demand is low, you are actually providing energy back into the energy grid and in many parts of the country the utility companies have to pay you for the energy.