With one of the hottest summers in history upon us, you may have noticed your cooling bill skyrocket these last few months. But did you know that this is an easy problem that can be tackled with proper insulation? If you’re looking to save money this summer and be more energy efficient, you’re definitely in luck! Home improvement expert Tom Kraeutler of The Money Pit joined me for an interview recently to discuss how you can save money for years to come with easy home improvements!
Candace Rose: Wasted energy means high utility bills, especially in the summer. What is the best way to tackle this problem?
Tom Kraeutler: “Your energy bill will certainly get your attention in the summer because when it gets as hot as it is now, the cooling bills really add up. The single most important or effective way to cut those is by improving your insulation. Technology has changed insulation. We may be accustomed to bad insulation, but spray foam insulation is really the best way to go.
Icynene is really the leader in that category. Basically spray foam is sprayed when a cavity is open, and so when you’re building a house you fill up the areas between the two-by-fours. If you’re in an existing house, you can spray this in an open attic and it expands 100 times to seal those cavities and insulate, so that stops air leakage and keeps out the allergens and reduces noise and that sort of thing. It’s going to cut those cooling bills and heating bills by about 50%.” *Please see video above to view Tom’s demonstration on the effectiveness of Icynene spray foam insulation.
Candace Rose: “Smart Homes” are a hot topic now – is it possible to add some of these features to existing homes without spending a lot?
Tom Kraeutler: “Oh absolutely. One of the smart home technologies that we’re going to see is the electric vehicle charger. Because so many of us are buying electric cars today, they’re very efficient- they’re four times more efficient than gas cars.
EVLink is an electric vehicle charger from Schneider Electric is better than the one that comes with the car because that’s a trickle charger. It’s a level 2 charger, it’ll handle vehicles that are 16 amps to 30 amps, and this can charge your car in about four hours. The typical trickle chargers are 16 hours- way too long. I like to think of this as charging your car in about the same time it takes to charge your cell phone. Plus it’s small, it’s attractive, it’s convenient. The surface is completely customizable, they have 600 different designs or you can add a photograph to it as well. This is a great technology that I think you’re going to see stocked going forward into the future, but you can actually bring it into your home right now with the investment of an electric car and vehicle charger.
Another technology that is available today are motion activated switches. The Micro Occupancy Sensor switch is terrific if you have kids that always leave lights on like mine do- I have three teenagers. With this technology, when they leave the room the lights automatically go off behind them, so if there’s no motion, there’s no lights. You can also set it in occupancy mode, so when you walk into a room like a laundry room with your hands full, the lights come on. It’s a very safe device, it’s a very energy efficient device and installs in about 15 minutes. Lutron even has a toll free number where they’ll walk you through the installation, and the cost is about $20. You really can’t go wrong when you talk smart home. Look at smart switches, look at vehicle chargers, and also let’s talk about the kitchen…you can be smart there too.
The Brantford pulldown faucet from Moen with motion sense- here’s how it works: You move a cup under it and water comes on. When it’s full, pull it away and water goes off. You can’t leave the water on. Let’s say you’re cooking, and you’re cutting up a chicken, and you’ve got all that bacteria on your hands…you reach over for that faucet. Well, you’ll transfer that bacteria to the faucet when that happens. What this has is a wave sensor, so you wave over the top, the water comes on and your pot fills with water. You wave it again and the water goes off. It’s a healthier faucet to use as well. It’s also beautiful. It comes in three different finishes, there’s an oil rubbed bronze, there’s a chrome, and there’s a spot resistant stainless that’s absolutely beautiful. So you’ve got a good looking faucet that’s safer and it’s going to save you water at the same time.”
Candace Rose: There are lots of tax credits and energy subsidies for green improvements out there. Is there an easy way to find out what is available in our area?
Tom Kraeutler: “Absolutely. So if it’s a product like Icynene for example, there’s local credits, there’s regional credits. Some of them come from utility companies, some come from the government- they have a website at Icynene.com where you can put in your zip code and find those tax credits that are available in your area.
And really nationally for all sorts of energy credits, just go to EnergyStar.gov, that’s the website for the Energy Star program run by the Department of Energy and search tax credits there. They have a locator that will help you find out what’s available for all sorts of products- heating products, cooling products, dishwashers and so on in your local area.”
Candace Rose: Well, thank you so much, Tom! Where can we go for more information?
Tom Kraeutler: “Just take a look at our website: MoneyPit.com. We’ve got reviews on all these products we’ve talked about today, and lots of other sources for home improvement information.”