Make your home more comfortable, durable, and safe — all while saving money and the planet.
We’re talking about the decidedly unsexy topic of energy efficiency. Most people come to New Prairie wanting new kitchens and baths, to create easy-to-use, appealing spaces. These things can make your home more pleasant and increase its resale value. But by far the most important, long-lasting improvement you can invest in for your home is improving its energy efficiency.
Why is that? Your house is a lot like a human body. No one part functions solely on its own — every system touches on the other systems. If one area is unhealthy, it can cause problems elsewhere. As with the body, you often don’t realize something is wrong until there is some outward pain — huge utility bills, draftiness and discomfort, rot, mold, health issues. If you’ve ever had to deal with any of this in your home, you know that the problem often extends far beyond the little bit you can see.
Homeowners need to understand how the parts work together to make their homes comfortable, safe, and durable. Unfortunately, not only do most homeowners not understand it, oftentimes contractors don’t get it either. (Ever watch Holmes on Homes? Examples of shoddy construction and the problems it can cause.) Of the many different types of people who may be working on your house, each is an expert in his or her own field (they should be, anyway!), but that doesn’t always mean they know very much about how their pieces interact with the rest of them. From the architecture, framing, and insulation to the plumbing, electrical, masonry, and HVAC systems — all the pieces must work together to function optimally.
Creating an energy efficient home means getting it right – it means making sure your insulation, air sealing, and ventilation systems are all working harmoniously with the rest of your house. Whether we’re starting from scratch or fixing existing problems, New Prairie is committed to getting it right so you and your family can be as comfortable and as safe as possible.
Although you don’t experience the results in the same way as a remodel or an addition, improving your energy efficiency provides a host of long-term benefits for yourself, your family, your community, and our planet:
Feel comfortable and breathe easy
Many people erroneously believe that being energy efficient is a hardship, that it will make your life more complicated and leave you shivering in the winter and sweating in the summer. But as Paul Scheckel points out in his book The Home Energy Diet, energy problems often masquerade as comfort issues. He urges homeowners to ask themselves how their houses make them feel — Cold? Dry? Stuffy? Sick? Sleepy? Poor indoor air quality and energy problems often go hand in hand.
The average American spends around 90% of their time indoors. Most people don’t realize that the EPA has identified indoor air pollution as one of the top five environmental risks to public health. On average, the level of air pollution inside a home is two to five times higher than outdoors.
There are many sources of indoor air pollution, from materials used in home construction and furnishing to molds, pollen, and bacteria. Many people experience chronic sinus and respiratory problems, headaches, nausea, and fatigue as a result of poor indoor air quality.
Fixing air leakage and ventilation problems leads to improved indoor air quality. You’ll feel more comfortable after sealing up drafts, and breathe easier as fresh air is allowed into your home in an efficient way.
Save your money
Begin conservation habits today and see immediate results in your electric bill. Upgrade your home’s appliances, systems and insulation, and most improvements will pay for themselves within a few years.
Although legislation is always changing, there are often rebates, incentives, and tax breaks available for specific types of energy upgrades. Special mortgage rates for energy-efficient homes are also becoming more popular. See the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org. EnergySavvy also has an easy search function for tax credits and rebates by zip code.
Ameren Illinois offers rebates and incentives in our area with their Act On Energy program. You don’t have to have the Ameren audit to qualify for Ameren’s energy incentives. But in order to ensure quality, an Act on Energy Program Ally must perform the work. New Prairie has become an Ally so that we can provide this service to our customers. To find out more about the entire process and what rebates you could qualify for, visit our Energy Auditing, Insulating, and the Act on Energy Program Explained page.
Lessen your environmental impact
When power stations can’t meet our energy demands, they have to build more to keep power outages from happening. This means more pollution and all the things that can go along with it — everything from respiratory problems to global warming to the threat of radiation. By taking responsibility for your energy usage, you can help improve our planet’s air quality.
Increase reliability during high-demand periods
When people begin to conserve and upgrade their energy systems, the demand for energy is eased. This means fewer rolling brown- and black-outs. And shifting your loads to off-peak hours makes you more energy-conscious, leading to even less consumption.
Improve energy security
As we begin to develop good energy habits in our homes and communities, we can eliminate the need for more power plants and reduce dependence on foreign oil, leading to improved energy security.
Support the green economy
The EPA’s website notes that over 33 million homes in the United States were constructed before modern energy codes. These homes often lack insulation and have high levels of air infiltration. Working with professionals to fix some of these problems would lead to the creation of many “green sector” jobs, not just in auditing and construction, but for vendors selling greener appliances, building products, and materials.
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