Energy conservation engages people living in urban areas as well as in cities across the United States, and environmental cohesion helps protect resources for future generations. Investing in energy efficient upgrades can mean big savings for home and business owners in reduced operating expenses, allowing funds to be reallocated for other endeavors.
Clean, green energy efficiency upgrades can help make homes and public spaces more comfortable and lower monthly energy bills from the local utility company. In addition, reducing energy usage preserves the environment and generating renewable power from local resources can improve energy security and boost the local economy.
Various energy efficiency programs exist to help Americans pursue clean energy projects, ranging from commercial and residential lighting upgrades to solar electric and solar thermal hot water heating systems. Several companies also conduct energy audits to determine the best upgrades for home, business and community structures.
Energy Solutions for Business
Energy upgrades can help business owners reduce operating costs and meet sustainability goals through clean energy objectives. Clean energy projects assist communities maintain schools, community centers, government buildings and multi-family housing. Energy conservation helps relieve budget pressures and reduces health risks from mold and failing HVAC systems.
Upgrades such as high-efficiency lighting, increased insulation and new heating and cooling systems can provide dramatic improvements in energy performance. In addition, studies can be conducted to determine if the facility can benefit from solar electric and/or solar hot water systems.
The federal government offers incentives for sustainability assistance for new commercial buildings, and consultants provide advice on how to build the most energy efficient facility utilizing efficient heating and cooling equipment, modern weatherization methods and renewable energy systems. These projects include lodging facilities, casinos, cultural centers, office buildings, retail space and more.
Solar Electric Systems
Solar electricity is becoming a major source of renewable energy generation in the United States and a 30% federal tax credit is still available. Comprised of solar panels, inverters and racking, solar electricity systems often come with a 25-year warranty. In addition, the payback or return on investment for today’s solar systems can be realized in six to seven years.
Solar panels produce DC (direct current) energy from the sun, which is converted to AC (alternate current) energy that operates appliances and other items in the home or business. The conversion takes place with an inverter connected to a separate power meter that measures the production of the solar system. The system connects to the meter provided by the power company or to a bank of batteries. When tied to the utility’s power meter, the solar-generated power causes the utility meter to “run backwards,” generating credits for the customer. This process is called Net Metering; some utilities issue customers checks for the extra energy produced by their solar-powered systems.
Batteries store the extra energy produced by the solar system. During the evening hours when the energy load on the utility is lower, battery power can run designated items without having to rely on utility-provided power.
Insulation serves to reduce or eliminate heat from penetrating the home or business “envelope.” Most building codes require a minimum R30 insulation, which equates to about 10 inches. In extremely hot locations, 13 to 15 inches (R49 to R60) of insulation is recommended. The two most popular types of insulation are blown cellulose and fiberglass.
Also called heat block, the radiant barrier is either a foil or aluminum-based paint system that is installed on the underside of the roof to repel heat rays from entering a building. A radiant barrier blocks up to 80% of the heat and keeps attic space cooler during hot summer months.
Air Conditioning Systems
Air conditioning systems are evaluated according to the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating. The older the unit, the lower the rating. Units rated at 6 to 8 SEER have exceeded their life expectancy and operate inefficiently, whereas newer systems rated at 13, 14, 16, 18 and 21 SEER are more efficient and offer improved performance.
Making energy efficiency a priority is a smart and prudent way to effectively operate homes and workplaces, while reducing costs and, most importantly, saving the planet!
To learn more about energy efficient programs and resources, contact Quincy Harris at Networks West Solar Brokerage Firm at 888.870.9781.