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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 9:28 pm | Fair 46º


Javier Saucedo: New Year’s Resolutions Can Start with Your Home

Now that the holiday decorations are being packed away and that pesky New Year’s Eve confetti is finally swept up, many of us are going to take a look at how we can improve our lives in the New Year.

Javier Saucedo Click to view larger
Javier Saucedo

While the typical resolution may take some of us to the gym in 2017, I think we’d all be surprised by how we can improve the comfort and efficiency of our homes — from the newly constructed or remodeled, to those dating back to the 1960s.

Whether it’s inefficient lighting, wasteful water heating or poor air sealing, making a resolution to finally shape up our home’s energy efficiency shortfalls — many of which you may not know exist — will help create a healthier home that’ll keep your family comfortable and cost less to power all year.

As an energy coach for the Santa Barbara County-operated emPower Central Coast program, I’ve helped many local families take the first steps toward fixing these problems. And while the biggest energy savings will come by working with a qualified building performance contractor for proper testing and making the right home upgrades, the following steps will help you get a jump start on 2017.

» Zap those “energy vampires.” Many household appliances — computers, microwaves, cable boxes and game consoles — are still sucking up power while in “sleep” mode or switched off. Plug them into an advanced power strip, which you can turn off while the appliances aren’t needed. Take the savings further by using energy-efficient devices, such as those with the ENERGY STAR label.

» Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs. It’s one of the least expensive and most noticeable changes you can make in your home. Also known as light-emitting diodes, LEDs can cut your lighting energy use by roughly 80 percent and will last considerably longer than incandescent lighting. This newer technology is also becoming more affordable.

» Dial back water heater settings and maximize efficiency. Heating water is typically the second biggest source of energy usage in your home. While most water heaters come from the manufacturer with thermostats set to 140 degrees, dialing it back to 120 degrees will save energy without disrupting comfortable hot water use. Installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators will also help you save water and energy.

» Seal small and large cracks in your home. Usually found in or around windows, doors and walls, these gaps let your conditioned air out and the outdoor air in, disrupting the regulation of temperature in your home. You can seal some of them yourself with a caulking gun and weather stripping from your favorite hardware store. Whole house air sealing, including sealing and insulating air ducts, will require a trained contractor, but it can improve heating and cooling system efficiency by 30 percent or more.

Click here for more tips from emPower DIY. While you’re there, you can also find out about how we can help you tackle a larger scale project by connecting you with a qualified contractor, rebates and affordable financing. If you’re not sure where to start or want to learn more about your home, you can sign up for a free consultation with an energy coach like myself.


The emPower program offers voluntary incentives, financing and other services to help single-family homeowners in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties make home energy upgrades easier and more affordable. emPower was established to help the community preserve the environment by helping to lower energy consumption and stimulate the economy by creating jobs through innovative, voluntary solutions to support a sustainable building performance market.

emPower is funded by California utility ratepayers and administered by Southern California Gas Co., Southern California Edison Co. and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission, the Energy Department Better Buildings program and the California Energy Commission with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars. emPower’s low-cost financing is offered in partnership with CoastHills Credit Union and Ventura County Credit Union.

Click here for more information about emPower Central Coast.

— Javier Saucedo is an energy coach with the Santa Barbara County-operated emPower Central Coast program. The opinions expressed are his own.

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