Home improvements can help save energy, money

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Newer homes built after 2009 are required to have energy efficient windows and doors, higher levels of insulation and energy efficient air-conditioning systems. Older homes can make improvements to increase their energy efficiency.

Many improvements come with rebates from the utility companies. And most require no permits and inspections!

The biggest energy user in the home is your air conditioner. If your unit is older than five years old, a new unit would increase the efficiency by more than 25%. Look for a minimum SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating of 18 when replacing the unit. Insulating or replacing old metal ductwork can increase comfort and efficiency. A duct test can reveal leaks in existing systems.

Insulation
Insulation is gauged by its ability to resist the transfer of heat and cold. This is known as the “R” value. The greater the “R” value, the greater the resistance. Blown-in and batt are the most common types (open cell) and are relatively inexpensive and easy to install. If you chose these types of insulation for your attic area, do not use or pay for more than R42 (or 12”).

Research has shown that R42 provides the maximum benefit Arizonans can expect from blown or batt insulation. Spray foam (or closed cell) incorporates newer technology and provides superior resistance to heat and cold. It provides R6 for every inch of foam! It must be applied by a trained installer and will come at a higher price.

Plumbing
Did you know state and federal laws require the use of low-flow water fixtures? Upgrading to these fixtures can reduce water use by up to 10,000 gallons each year for a family of four. An insulated water heater can save up to 45% in heat loss over an un-insulated unit. Tankless water heaters can save in energy use and heat loss by only producing hot water when a faucet is open.

Windows
Low E, dual pane windows can provide up to 20% savings on energy bills while reducing outside noise and UV infiltration. Well-sealed windows will also increase the efficiency of the AC unit.

Available energy efficiency rebates and incentives:

Southwest Gas — https://www.swgas.com/en/search/rebates-and-promotions
• Solar and tankless water heaters.
• Low flow shower heads.
• New windows.
• Washer/dryers.
• Weatherization.
• Smart thermostat.

Arizona Public Service — https://www.aps.com/en/residential/renewableenergy/ renewableenergyincentives/Pages/home.aspx
• Home performance checkup.
• A/C tune-ups.
• A/C replacement/upgrade.
• Duct testing.
• Smart thermostat.

These rebates are simple to apply for, and in most cases, the amount is taken right off your next month’s bill. State and federal tax deductions are also available — just check out the energy efficiency deductions when filing your taxes.

Mary Dickson is Litchfield Park’s chief building official.

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