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Going Green ?

Home Inspector


Becoming energy efficient


Save our planet, save you money

To reduce your home's contribution to our global environmental problems, reducing your homes heating energy use is the single most effective way to do so, and it saves you money. In most homes, heating is the largest expense ( accounting for 35-50% of annual energy bills ) in the colder parts of the country.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems use the earths temperature to heat and cool buildings with 40-70% less energy consumption than conventional systems. Unlike conventional furnaces and boilers which use fuel to generate heat ( the most efficient fuel-burning heaters can reach efficiencies around 95%) , Geothermal heat pumps use electricity to move heat from the earth into buildings which allows for much higher efficiencies. A Geothermal heat pump can move up to 4 units of heat for every unit of electricity ( needed to power the system) , resulting in a practical equivalence of over 400% efficiency!

A high efficiency furnace is also something you may want to consider. The efficiency is of new furnaces is measured by it's AFUE ( Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) rating. Furnaces today are measured between 78-96% AFUE. A high efficiency “condensing” furnace is rated at 90% AFUE and above because it recaptures some of the heat wasted in traditional systems by condensing escaping water vapour and using it to heat the building as well. Over time , installing a high efficiency furnace could pay for itself. For example: if your present AFUE rating is 65% and you plan to install a high efficiency with an AFUE rating of 95% , then your projected savings per 100$ of fuel is approximately $32. Now let's say your annual fuel bill is $1400 , then the total yearly savings will be approximately $32 x 14 = $448. In my opinion, that;s a good investment.

The earth receives an outstanding amount of solar energy , in fact , the sun provides enough energy in one minutes to supply the entire world for one year. That means that every day , the sun provides more energy then our current population will consume in 27 years. So it only makes sense to capture it, and we do that using solar panels.


Solar power is just as practical in populated areas as it is in remote areas. The average home has more then enough roof space to produce enough energy to supply all of it's power. With an inverter connected ( converts direct current “ DC” power from the solar cells to alternating current “AC” which is what most home appliances run on) , a solar home can look and operate much like a home that is connected to a power line , for less money.

The amount of sunlight your home may receive and the overall cost of solar equipment are the two primary disadvantages of using solar power. The amount of sunlight varies greatly on location, time, season and clouds. While solar energy systems have made large technological and cost improvements , they are currently more expensive then traditional energy sources. Depending on how much sun your particular location receives , solar equipment has been known to pay for itself within 2 to 5 years and future improvements are projected to decrease the payback time to 1 to 3 years. Any energy used after the equipment has paid for itself is virtually free until the end of the equipments working life.


Nathan Pile

Barrie Home Inspector

Comments (3)

Krista Lombardi
Prudential Calfornia Realty - San Diego, CA

Hello Nathan, Very good post!  

Jul 18, 2011 06:40 AM
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Nathan some really great points, thanks for sharing. As a homeowner I am always looking for new technology for the home.

Jul 18, 2011 06:43 AM
Andrew Herren
Craig Massee Real Estate - Milledgeville, GA

Most homes that have a forced air heating or cooling could reduce their consumption by 30%-40% by simply tightening up and insulating their existing duct work. I do testing for the Federal Government's Weatherization Program and see this amount of duct leakage every day. Even homes that are only a few years old are terrible! Having a duct blaster and blower door door test on your home is a great way to identify air loss/infiltration in your home. Most of the repairs to combat this are very homeowner friendly and inexpensive.

Jul 18, 2011 06:48 AM