Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baby it's Cold Outside // Upgrading our Fireplace and Saving Energy

Thank you PG&E for sponsoring this post. Follow PG&E on social for more useful energy efficiency tips to save money!
Green is the new black. It's a struggle, but we try to be as "green" as possible whether it is recycling, cleaning up local beaches or keeping our thermostat at 65 degrees -- every little bit helps.

Being energy efficient (or using less energy) is beneficial because:
    • Direct benefits
      • Financial: saves money
      • Productivity: saves time
      • Comfort: improves quality of life
    • Indirect benefits
      • Puts less strain on the grid (reduces outages)
      • Puts less strain on other natural resources (like water)
      • Reduces emissions that can harm the environment

PG&E offers consumers some great tips on warm weather, cold weather and everyday savings (broken down by no cost, low cost and investment solutions). Owning our home has allowed us to make adjustments and upgrades that help keep monthly bills low. Our biggest up front cost, but biggest long term energy saver was purchasing a wood insert.

When we purchased our house we knew this was an upgrade we were willing to invest in. There are many advantages to having a wood stove for your main heat source, or at least as a supplemental heater.  First is the fact that wood is cheaper to buy than other heating fuels.  With the hike in oil prices, propane gas is now one of the most expensive of fuels, and electricity has always been one of the most expensive ways to heat your home.

An open fireplace might be nice to sit next to, but it's an inefficient heating source. Plus, it can create high levels of smoke in your house. Enter the wood insert or stove. A energy-saving wood insert transforms your existing fireplace into to to a very efficient fireplace. It can even cut your bills up to 40% (depending on house size, insert, climate, etc.)!

Our fireplace before installing the Jotul C 550 wood insert.

Aside from adding a wood insert we painted the brick and added a reclaimed wood mantel.

Each summer we start prepping for winter by collecting 2-4 cords of woods. We actually collect rounds and spilt the wood ourselves. Oh, there's no axe involved -- we barrow a gas splitter from a friend. Then there's the stacking aspect. The goal is to collect and split early in the summer. Then stack in the fall once the split wood has had a chance to dry.

It's been three years since we purchased the wood insert and we're extremely happy. It has paid for itself. Since the wood insert is energy-saving we even received a $300 rebate on our taxes! Winning.

Other energy saving upgrades we've made include:
  • Replacing single pane aluminum windows with double pane vinyl windows.
  • Purchasing insulating blinds/curtains
  • Adding insulation under the house
  • Upgrading appliances -- washer/dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator and stove
  • Using CFL bulbs
Future energy goals include:
  • Upgrading to a tankless water heater
  • Requesting a energy audit from our electric company
  • Utilizing PG&E's Money Saver Tool to plan upgrades and research rebates offered
Tips from PG&E:
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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