Real Energy Savers Revisited
By: New Jersey Home Inspector Michael Del Greco
Real Energy Savers Revisited
Submitted by: Michael Del Greco, New Jersey Home Inspector Lic GI 0121, President of Accurate Inspections, Inc, a New Jersey home inspection company
The energy saving tips listed below go beyond the standard tips which are usually recommended.
Standard tips may include: insulating the attic, wrapping the water heater, and adding storm windows.
Implement real energy savers and start saving big $$$.
The main function of siding is to keep the weather out of the house. The inability of siding to keep cold
air from getting behind it makes it practically useless as an energy saver.
Note: Insulated aluminum siding does not insulate at all because air easily gets behind the siding.
To reduce air infiltration into the exterior walls you must wrap the house before you install any siding.
The wrap must be able to stop air and cannot be allowed to trap moisture permeating from the inside of
the house. DuPont s Tyvek is an excellent material for this use.
2. Set-back thermostat
It s advantageous to have the heat at lower settings when not at home or sleeping. With this type of
thermostat, you can select in advance the times you would like the heat to go on and off.
3. Computer thermostat
This type of thermostat will allow you to program much more information than a set-back thermostat,
such as different settings for weekdays and weekends.
The computer thermostat is especially advantageous with a heat-pump because you can program it to
override back-up electric heat unless the outside thermostat requires it.
NOTE: One of the most inefficient aspects of a heat-pump is the improper use of the thermostat. The
computer type thermostat can enhance its efficiency.
Condensation is caused when warm air (which has more ability to hold water than cold air) moves into
an area with colder air.
Large quantities of air are needed to carry off air that may become saturated. The best way to develop
good ventilation is with high-low ventilation (i.e., ridge vents and soffit vents).
Note: Insulation that absorbs moisture from saturated air has little or no effectiveness as an insulator and
can actually increase the conductivity of the insulation.
The formula for proper ventilation is one (1) square foot of clear air distributed 50% high + 50% low
for every 300 square feet of attic space. Additional ventilation is necessary if the insulation does not
have a vapor barrier.
Heaters waste 25% to 50% of your total heating fuel.
The design of the heater, type of burner, and fuel used will dictate how much waste goes up the
The main questions to ask when you are in the market to buy a heater are:
1. What is the temperature of the flue gases? This will be dictated by the heat exchanger or boiler
design. The lower the exhaust temperature, the more efficient the unit will be.
2. What is the overall efficiency, including fuel, chimney, and heat transmission losses?
3. Water heaters
The most economical way to save energy with water heaters is to keep the temperature at approximately 120 to 130 degrees, depending on your usage demands.
Wrapping water heaters is OK. However, the savings are minimal in 95% of the cases.
When buying a new water heater, you should buy a heater only as large as you need (i.e., an average family of four will get along satisfactorily with a 30 gallon gas-fired water heater).
Information provided by Michael Del Greco, New Jersey Home Inspector Lic. GI 0121, American Society of Home Inspectors Member 102273, Pesident of Accurate Inspections, Inc. A West Paterson New Jersey Home Inspection firm.