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Seattle home show 2013 recap – top energy saving questions and answers

Washington Energy | 03/12/2013 | Posted in Ductless heat pump, Home energy audit, Tankless water heaters

We love meeting people at the Seattle Home Show and talking energy saving. It’s no surprise that we see trends in the questions we get. Here are the top ones, and the answers.


1. What is the benefit of a tankless water heater and is there an electric version?

Tankless Water Heaters provide endless hot water, also known as hot water on demand. They do not provide “instant” hot water. (That’s the job of a recirculating pump.) Tankless benefits include; endless hot water, running multiple hot-water-using appliances simultaneously, and long lifespan (20 years). It’s excellent for families, or where you want to run the dishwasher and shower at the same time.

If your water consumption remains the same, you can save about 15% on the cost of heating water vs standard tank. Gas and Propane tankless water heaters qualify for up to $300 in federal energy tax credit. There is such a thing as an electric on demand water heater. We do not sell or recommend them because they are energy hogs, and often require electrical panel upgrades.

2. What’s the latest trend in energy efficiency products?

High tech thermostats with remote control via cell phone are the latest trend in energy efficiency. These modern thermostats, such as the Honeywell Prestige, can be programmed so you can adjust temperatures when you are away and when you are on your way home. Even a few degrees lower for part of a day (when you aren’t home to suffer through it) can add up to energy savings. Or at least cover the cost for when you are home and want to crank it up.

3. Is a ductless heat pump right for my house or addition?

Heat pumps are energy efficient because they squeeze heat out of the air and send it into your house, and air is a free fuel. Ductless heat pumps give you the energy savings of a heat pump for homes with no ductwork. Typically that’s an electrically heated home, and you can save up to 50% off your heating bill. They provide quiet, super efficient electric heat, and as a bonus, air conditioning.

They work great in single family homes, and condos. If you have an underheated or undercooled area of your home, they can provide excellent spot heating and cooling. Or, if you have a home with electric baseboard or wall heat, they can replace that, and qualify you for rebates up to $1500.

For houses with oil or propane heat and central air (ducts), you have many options to significantly cut energy costs and ductless is only one of them. Since you already have ducts, it may be more cost effective overall to evaluate ducted heat pump options before choosing to switch over to ductless heating.

4. What is a home energy audit and what will be measured?

The official home energy audit of EnergyStar (EPA) is called Home Performance by EnergyStar. This is a comprehensive assessment is designed to pinpoint sources of high energy consumption, and health and comfort issues such as air leaks, insufficient insulation, moisture, defective ducts, gas leaks, ventilation, and inefficient lighting and appliances. Advisors thoroughly inspect, safety check, and evaluate all the components of the home, treating it as a completely integrated system, instead of just four walls and appliances. Tests include:

  • Utility Bill Analysis
  • Blower Door Test
  • Infrared Scan
  • Visual Inspection
  • Insulation inspection
  • Equipment Inspection

In most homes, the assessment procedure should take about two hours and create minimal disruption. A comprehensive assessment should provide you with a report, prioritized list of energy improvements and include a full “test out” conducted after all the improvements are installed. This will ensure the best results and ensure the safety of your home. We believe that you benefit most from a comprehensive audit vs a do it yourself one.

If you missed us at the show and have a question, or to sign up for a Home Performance by EnergyStar audit, give Washington Energy a call at 800 398 4663.

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