How to Save Money with Energy Star Appliances

How to Save Money with Energy Star Appliances

While shopping for appliances, you’ve likely come across Energy Star products, but do you know how to save money with their items? The white star and writing on a blue background often catch people’s eyes, but what does Energy Star mean, and should you care about it? 

Below we will answer questions such as:

What is Energy Star? What does the designation mean? How an appliance qualifies, and more! Let’s understand how much it will save you in energy use and money. 

Here’s everything to know about how to save money with energy star appliances-

What is Energy Star? 

Established in 1992 by the US Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star is a government-backed program for identifying products and devices that meet energy efficiency standards. 

Energy Star applies to many products, from light bulbs to computers, windows, buildings, and everyday appliances. It is typically seen as a number that lets consumers know how much energy and money can be saved.  

What does the Energy Star designation mean? 

The Energy Protection Agency (EPA) works with the Department of Energy to determine which products receive an Energy Star designation. Products and appliances are graded across 75 categories and must meet some guiding principles.  

  • Products must be in a classification that could contribute to substantial energy savings. 
  • They must meet the features and performance that consumers are looking for. 
  • Energy-efficiency technology must be able to be achieved by competing manufacturers.
  • Savings need to be able to be confirmed through testing.
  • Certified products that cost more than less efficient alternatives must provide savings in energy costs within a reasonable period of time. 

The qualifications vary for each category.

For example, refrigerators must be at least 15% more efficient than the minimum federal efficiency standard. Office equipment must automatically enter a low-power sleep mode after a period of inactivity. TVs should consume 3 watts or less when switched off, which is about 50% less than a standard TV (yes, electronics still pull energy when turned off).

What types of appliances are eligible to receive an Energy Star rating? 

A wide range of appliances and products can receive an Energy Star Rating. Some examples are:

  • Air Purifiers
  • Light Bulbs and Light Fixtures
  • Pool Pumps
  • Storm Windows
  • Televisions
  • Vending Machines
  • Washers and Dryers

To see a complete list of products, visit the Energy Star Website.

When determining the energy efficiency of a product, check the EnergyGuide label. The tag tells buyers how much energy the item consumes and how it compares to other products in the same category. 

Before going shopping, check out Energy Star’s most efficient list. This distinction recognizes products that deliver cutting-edge energy and the latest technological innovation.

How can Energy Star Appliances save money?

Energy-efficient items save consumers money over the long run by lowering their bills. Energy Star products and appliances may cost more upon purchase, but long term, they should save money and lower the carbon footprint.

On average major home appliances such as washers, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, etc., account for 20% of your home’s total electric bill. These items typically last an average of 10-20 years, which means energy costs can add up over time. Energy Star-certified items use anywhere from 10-50 percent less energy each year than non-certified items. 

Tip: Some regions charge more money for energy consumed during peak hours. If your utility company operates on a “time of use system,” you may pay more for your appliances when energy demand is higher. 

How does Energy Star help save money with taxes?

Cities, states, and the federal government offer tax incentives to encourage consumers to buy energy-efficient products. 

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August of 2022, is aimed to help reduce the country’s carbon emissions. The Act seeks to cut the cost of home energy use through energy-efficient appliances and winterizing upgrades. 

Providing up to $14,000 for homeowners who make improvements to their houses by replacing windows, upgrading appliances, and upgrading to solar, the Act aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. 

How do you find out what rebates are available?

Once you’ve determined that an Energy Star appliance or product is right for you, the next step will be to visit the Rebate Finder.

How to use the Rebate Finder:

Enter your zip code, and any federal government offers in your area will pull up, listing the rebate details. To apply for a tax credit, you’ll need to claim using specific forms (found here) and submit them with your IRS tax return.  

Energy Star Appliances: Pros

There is a lot of hype around Energy Star appliances, with good reason. Saving homeowners billions of dollars and reducing fossil fuel emissions makes it a worthy cause for most.

Here are some pros of installing an Energy Star appliance in your home-

  • Reduced Energy Costs – Energy Star appliances can reduce usage by as much as 50%. The National Resource Defense Council estimates that energy efficiency standards have saved homeowners about $2,000 per household. 
  • Environmentally Friendly – Energy Star appliances are an excellent option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and our reliance on fossil fuel resources and foreign oil. 
  • Convenience – Purchasing an Energy Star washer and dryer usually means you can wash more laundry per load and dry clothes more quickly! Who doesn’t want to save time? 

Energy Star Appliances: Cons

One con of Energy Star appliances is the initial investment is higher than a standard product. That said, in the long term, consumers will experience lower utility bills. 

Does a tiny home automatically mean energy efficient? 

Simply purchasing a tiny home does not mean it will be energy efficient.

One area that a shopper will want to ask questions to their builder when buying a tiny house. There should be agreement on what appliances get installed in the home, along with lighting and heating.

Overall, it is worth the money to invest a little more when purchasing an appliance for long-term savings. Turn Key Fabrication knows it is crucial to create the most energy-efficient, climate-friendly homes on the market. Contact us today, and let’s make your dream home with the most negligible environmental impact possible!

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What is Insulation R-Value?

What is Insulation R-Value?

One term you may come across when discussing a home build or the Inflation Reduction Act is ‘Insulation R-Value’ – but what does that mean? If you want to keep utility bills low and reduce the carbon footprint of your tiny home, this is something you’ll want to understand.

Here, we’ve broken down what R-Value is, the necessary ranges for a tiny or modular house, and the pros and cons.

Here is everything you need to know about R-Value-

What is R-Value?

R-Value is the “capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the number, the greater the insulating power.” 

A greater R-Value means better insulation, which will help maintain the home’s internal temperature. Builders use different insulation levels for various areas, such as a lower R-Value for flooring and a higher value for an attic. 

Insulation levels range from R10 to R60. For purchasing purposes, a builder may get all the insulation with the same R-Value, doubling it up in certain areas of the home can create a higher R-Value. 

Why is Insulation R-Value important? 

Keeping your home warm and energy down is a big priority for many people. Knowing the insulation R-Value in the home will help ensure the home is energy efficient. The correct insulation can make or break a build, yet another reason to trust expert builders instead of a Home Depot tiny house kit.

Not only does insulation keep your home warm during the winter months, but it also reduces strain on HVAC systems. Without adequately insulating a home, the thermostat will need to run constantly, leaving the HVAC system on overdrive. 

What is the right amount of Insulation R-Value?

The level of R-Value installed in a home will depend on where you live. If you live in a cooler climate, a higher insulation value is necessary vs. a warmer climate. The United States Department of Energy has created a great resource map recommending the R-value levels by region (shown below). 

As you can see in the above table, homeowners living in the Texas area would want an attic insulated from R30 to R60, while the floor should be insulated between R13 to R 25, depending on which part of the state you live in.

How do R-Values compare for types of insulation?

When building a new home, there are decisions about which level of insulation to use for floors, walls, and the roof. If you are purchasing a tiny home on wheels (THOW), you’ll want to make sure that you are also considering additional insulation underneath the house. With the THOW being off the ground, there is ample opportunity for air to escape out the bottom of the home. 

There are many types of insulation on the market today:

  • Loose-Fill/Blown-In Insulation – Low R-Value per inch
  • Batt Insulation – Low R-Value per inch
  • Spray Foam Insulation – Medium R-Value per inch
  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) – High R-Value per inch
  • Rigid Insulation Boards – High-R-Value per inch

Each type of insulation comes with its pros and cons. If you are building a new house, you have more options than adding on to a current home. 

What are Structural Insulated Panels?

SIP panels are made by laminating styrofoam insulation with sheet goods. Using styrofoam makes the product extremely lightweight, a considerable benefit for a tiny house. 

There are considerable benefits to using SIP panels-

  • Lightweight – these panels create up to 30% weight reduction in framing from traditional houses.
  • SIPs are earthquake and hurricane-resistant, standing the test of time.
  • Cost-effective – the high R-Value means the place is temperature controlled. 
  • There are no studs when using SIP panels, so you are free to hang items anywhere on the walls!

At Turn Key Fabrication, we build our homes with Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). They are the best option in the insulation market and are worth the upgrade

How do you increase R-Value?

There are a variety of ways to increase the R-Value of your home:

  • Insulate – The best place to add additional insulation in your attic/roof. 
  • High Standards – Make sure your builder knows the code standards for your municipality. Adding more insulation is an option, but your R-Value should always stay within the building code requirements. 
  • Beyond R-Value – Some other ways you can help your home maintain heat are to stop leaks and replace windows. 

A single layer of our SIP panels is R25. Since we make them in-house, we can use thicker styrofoam to increase the R-Value and match the recommended amount per region. With a heat flow reduction above 96%, you can rest assured that the tiny or modular home will maintain the temperature inside. 

Can you have too much insulation? 

Although you can’t necessarily over-insulate your home, there are a few areas to consider when adding more insulation. There is the possibility of a diminishing return, environmental impacts, and the potential for mold.

Each time you add a layer of insulation, the newest layer is doing less work because there isn’t as much availability for heat flow between layers. At some point, there will be little impact on the home while costing more money. 

While adequately insulating a home has a positive environmental impact by reducing the amount of energy consumed each month, there can be an ecological downfall. Manufacturing insulation requires energy, natural resources, and the emission of greenhouse gases. 

Another downfall of stacking up too much insulation is that moisture can get trapped between the layers, creating a perfect environment for mold. The home needs to be able to breathe through all the insulation. Poor ventilation is a common problem with tiny homes that aren’t built correctly. 

How can Turn Key Fabrication help?

Insulation is often overlooked by homeowners, leaving that decision up to the builders, but this is one area you should make a point to ask about. Adding insulation with the right amount of R-Value and sealing air leaks can create a 10% savings on yearly utility bills. 

Turn Key Fabrication takes pride in using SIP panels for all areas of our homes. We can create any R-Value panel level, allowing us to use them for flooring, walls, and ceilings. Not only do we use these on homes we build, we happily construct them for other tiny home builders as well! If you are in the market for a tiny house or needing SIP panels, contact us today!     

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