How an Energy-Efficient Home Can Lower Your Winter Bills in West Michigan
Maintaining a totally energy-efficient home can be a lot of work, especially during the intense West Michigan winters. But an energy-efficient home is really the only way to ensure that you and your family stay warm and comfortable all season long — without paying sky-high energy bills.
If you live in an older home, and because heat can escape from the unlikeliest of places, you’ll probably need to conduct a pricey energy audit to even know what to look for. Then there’s the time and expense of caulking, sealing, insulating, replacing materials and products, and more to treat the heat loss. What a job!
Luckily, when you buy a new home in the Grand Rapids or Lakeshore areas, energy efficiency is often built right into the construction process, lowering your home maintenance and energy costs for many years. At Bosgraaf Homes, our homes are so energy efficient and air tight that homeowners pay less per month on their energy bills than owners of older, used homes. Here’s how we do it:
Create Heat More Efficiently
Up to half of a home’s energy is used for heating and cooling interior spaces. Today’s energy-efficient furnaces provide maximum heat with minimum gas usage by electronically monitoring the thermostat to ensure precise temperature control. Having the right-sized HVAC system for your house is also critically important to maintain even temperatures room-to-room and control humidity levels.
Prevent Heat Loss
Your furnace works hard to warm your home. The number one thing you can do to lower your energy bills is to prevent that heat from escaping, so that it doesn’t have to work even harder. While effectively sealing air leaks around floors, walls, ceilings, windows, doors, fireplaces, and outlets (yes, outlets!) is a given, the right insulation and window glass will help trap heat and keep it right where you need it.
- Effective Insulation Solutions: Homes in West Michigan need to be able to withstand low temperatures that regularly dip into the single digits. For maximum heat retention and comfort, 2×6 exterior wall construction allows for fiberglass batt insulation to fill a wider space without breaks or gaps, resulting in less air leakage. In ceilings, blown-in fiberglass insulation 13 inches thick prevents warm air from escaping.
- Qualified Low-E Windows and Sliding Glass Doors: Inefficient windows are notorious for ushering your hard-won heat right out of your house. Low-emissivity coatings on glass windows and doors reflect the home’s interior heat and bounce it right back into the spaces where you need it the most. (Fun fact: Low-E windows do the exact same thing to exterior heat from the sun in the summer, keeping the inside of your home cooler in warmer months).
Efficiently Maintain Hot Water Temperature
When the temperature outside dips below freezing (and stays there!), maintaining hot water for bathing and cleaning can use LOTS of energy. Traditional water heaters (those big, unsightly tanks), are very good at constantly heating stored water to whatever the thermostat is set to, but that comes at a major cost. There’s a better way.
- Efficient Water Heaters: Tankless gas water heaters are the best option to keep your water hot and your energy bills low. They allow for endless hot water (no more hot water running out when the last person in the family showers), save a ton of space, and don’t pose a flood-risk when they expire.
Harness the Power of the Sun
You know how you can stand in the sun on a cold day and your face will still get warm? The same is true for your home. Large, strategically-placed windows are a fantastic way to harness a natural resource to warm your home that costs absolutely nothing. If you think those Low-E windows that are preventing interior heat from escaping also prevent the sun’s heat from entering, think again.
Low-E windows actually transmit the winter sun’s shortwave energy easily so that it passes right through the glass. That energy can naturally warm your home on even the coldest day. Once that heat is inside your home, it converts to long-wave energy, and THAT’S the kind of heat that the special coating blocks. Pretty genius if you ask us.
Get Smart About Your Thermostat
Programmable thermostats increase efficiency in your heating and cooling system by learning how long it takes your system to reach your desired temperature, and activating the system earlier, so that your home is how warm or cool you want it to be, at the precise moment you want it. Smart thermostats that allow for multiple programming settings — like auto-adjusting on the weekends or when you are not home as often — will save you both money and the hassle of remembering.
Reverse Your Ceiling Fans
In rooms with ceilings of normal height, fans can keep you just as warm in the winter as they keep you cool in the summer, and can potentially lower your energy bill. At the first sign of cool weather, reverse the direction your ceiling fans turn — so that they are spinning clockwise — to pull cool air upward and push down the warmer air that naturally rises to the ceiling. Just be sure blades are spinning at the lowest possible setting.
All of these systems work together in a new Bosgraaf home to keep your space as toasty as you’d like, for a lot less money. Here are some other quick tips that you can implement daily to keep your home warmer in the West Michigan winters!
- Open the curtains and blinds on a sunny day, close them at night
- After using the oven, leave it open to let the heat warm your kitchen and open living spaces
- Close doors and narrow air vents in rooms you don’t use often. (Don’t close vents all the way as you don’t want the room to reach freezing temperatures. That could freeze pipes in the walls and take more energy to re-heat.)
- Put rugs down on hard surface floors to create more soft surface area, which holds heat more effectively
Have questions about buying a (warm) new home in West Michigan? Contact us — we can help!