Let's jump right in and start out with water heating. Whether you heat it with electric, or gas it consumes 10-25% of your utility cost. The best way to cut this cost is Solar Hot Water. There are systems designed for all climates and conditions so without you do not get any sun all year it will pay for itself in a short period. To coin an old phrase it has the largest bang for your buck.
Next let's talk about insulation. One of the latest products to hit the market is Spray Foam. You may have seen it. When sprayed on it expends filling all cracks and crevices. It's a great product that will not sag or degrade over time. This product is excellent for new construction but what if you're just doing a remodel or an addition? You do not plan to tear off drywall but you know your walls need more insulation. The answer here is Injection Foam Insulation. Like the name implies it is injected into existing walls to fill any and all voids with foam that does not expand. With a rating of R-5 per inch a 2 x 4 wall will be R-18 with an air seal. Something you do not get from traditional insulation. 2 x 6 walls will be R-28. This product is also great for soundproofing. If you are remodeling it would be best to find a company that does both, Spray and Injection.
The next thing I'll talk about is Radiant Heat. It's been around since Roman times (seriously) and it's getting a lot of attention slowly. The main advantage of radiant is comfort. While it can save you up to 40% on your heating bill the really cool part (pun intended) is how evenly the heat is distributed. A room heated with radiant can have thermostat set 5 -10 degrees lower than a forced air system and fill just as comfortable. What it does is heat everything in the room that will absorb heat. It turns anything that will retain heat into a radiator, including you.
Finally let's talk a little about Solar Electric or Photovoltaic. With all the advances in products and a few good ideas it is now more cost effective than ever to Go Green. Have you heard the term Net-Metering? This is when your Solar produces more electricity than you are using and the utility company credits you towards future electric use. It's a pretty good deal. This means you do not have to go out and buy a great big system to meet all your needs. With this type of system, you are still tied in to the grid and you have no need for costly batteries for back up. Because you are still hooked up to the grid you can start smaller and build your system as your budget allows.
I wrote this with little mention of savings on all of these products. The way I see it we have 2 categories here. The first being the ones wanting to see a payback on their investment and the other wanting to just reduce their Carbon Footprint. Both are great reasons. The fact is you can do both. I invite you to visit the website listed in the author box to get more facts on these products.