You’ll find some of the more frequently asked questions regarding the Touchstone Energy® HomeSM Program below. Click on each question, and you’ll be taken to the answer within the page.

To get back to the list of questions, click the “Back To Top” button beside each answer. If you need additional information, simply Contact the program administrator.

Back To TopWhy own a Touchstone Energy Home?

If you’re in the market to buy or build a home, or you’re ready to remodel your present home, attend one of the FREE Touchstone Energy Home Seminars. You’ll learn great ways to save money through energy efficient construction techniques.

Indiana’s Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives want to reward members for exceeding the norm in energy-efficient building practices. Those who choose to build or remodel a home using higher standards can be assured their Touchstone Energy Home will save money on energy bills and provide comfort for years to come.

Touchstone Energy Homes are well-insulated, and feature high efficiency heating and cooling products along with:

  • Improved energy efficiency
  • Lower comfort conditioning costs
  • Environmental friendliness
  • Consistent comfort even during harsh weather
  • Higher resale value

As co-ops that serve local member needs, Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives are extremely interested in the benefits derived from improved energy efficiency. When we work together to use electricity wisely, we help keep the cost of power stable and affordable for everyone. It’s a win-win for everyone!

Back To TopIs an energy-efficient home worth the extra cost?

You can leverage the value of your dream home through energy efficiency. The benefits include:

  • Lower utility bills
  • Attractive energy-efficient mortgages
  • Higher resale value
  • The potential for extra monthly disposable income

For every dollar spent on energy-saving features and higher construction standards, you reduce the monthly expense of heating (home and water), cooling, lighting and cooking. Energy consumption falls as energy-efficiency building measures are applied.

When it comes to your home, most people agree: Comfort drives satisfaction. Higher building standards help eliminate drafts and uneven warm and cold spots in the home.

Higher resale values result from construction quality and improved energy-efficient building practices. Simply put, energy-efficient homes are worth more in the marketplace. A recent Touchstone Energy sponsored survey found that 85% of the respondents believe energy-saving features contribute to the home’s resale value.

Back To TopHow energy efficient is a Touchstone Energy Home?

Touchstone Energy Homes are designed to exceed the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) by a minimum of 30 percent.

Most Touchstone Energy Homes far exceed energy-efficiency standards. For example, The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) puts a numerical value on a home’s energy performance. The lower the score, the better the energy-efficiency rating. The national HERS average is 64.

In 2014, three Indiana Touchstone Energy Homes scored a 29, the lowest HERS rating to date in the state.

Back To TopHow do I know if the energy-efficiency improvements will save money?

Here’s an easy-to-understand calculation to determine how long it will take to you to get a return on your investment. Simply take the first year’s installed cost and divide it by the first year’s energy cost savings that will be produced by the improvement:

Cost vs savings

You can use this method to determine the most rewarding energy-efficient options. Keep in mind that this calculation does not take into consideration future changes in heating fuel or electricity costs. Any increase in fuel costs can dramatically reduce the payback period for energy-saving improvements.

Back To TopWhat makes windows more energy efficient?

Differences in temperature across a window, particularly when it’s cold outside and warm inside, can lead to significant energy losses. Window choices with low-emissivity coatings, gas-fills, and insulating frames provide significant energy savings over old-fashioned single- or double-glazed windows.

If you’re building a new home, you’ll want to do your homework. Windows vary significantly by design, size and thermal qualities.

Back To TopHow does lighting affect my energy bill?

Lighting accounts for up to 12% of your home’s cost for electricity. Recruiting all-star bulbs can make a big difference on your power bill. That’s why the we offer an online lighting store at TeamUpToSave.com/lighting.

In addition to purchasing bulbs, you can find detailed information about energy-efficient lighting.

NEW CONSTRUCTION

Back To TopWhat are some other considerations for minimizing heating and cooling costs?

Home site planning is one of the most overlooked considerations in building a home. You’ll want to examine the site for the most suitable home placement and solar orientation, especially if you are acting as the designer, the general contractor, architect or do-it-yourself homeowner.

Here are a few tips:

  • Compact building designs are more energy efficient than spread-out, high-cubic-foot homes.
  • When laying out the floor plan, locate the most actively used spaces where daylighting will most benefit the area.
  • Kitchens, living rooms and family rooms should be located on the south side.
  • Large paved surfaces should be placed on the lee side (the side sheltered from wind) of use areas to minimize uncomfortable summer thermal mass effects perpetuated by high winds.
  • Open floor plans optimize airflow and ventilation, improve daylighting, and in winter, distribute heat more evenly.
  • Double pane, Low-E glazed windows should be installed throughout the home to maximize thermal efficiencies, to reduce solar heating, and to protect interior home surfaces from fading.
  • Roof overhangs and awnings are a good source of shade, as are drapes with light-colored linings or blinds. Keep in mind that lighter colors for walls, floors and ceilings, and roofs reflect sunlight and will reduce heat gain.

EXISTING HOMES

Back To Top Where do I start when creating a more energy-efficient home?

A home energy audit is the first step to assess your household’s energy use, and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy-efficient. An audit will show you problems that may, when corrected, save you significant amounts of money over time.

You can request an energy audit by contacting your rural electric cooperative (contact info can be found on the Process page), or use a professional energy rater for a more thorough audit.

Back To TopWhy should I contact my electric cooperative for an energy audit?

An energy audit from your servicing electric cooperative is a economical way to identify common energy issues in existing homes. This kind of audit is performed as a “walk through”, meaning that energy issues are identified visually and testing equipment is generally not used at this time. The auditor will give recommendations for mitigating or corrective measures, or will refer you to a professional energy rater for assistance more complex issues.

Back To TopWhy should I use a professional energy rater?

A professional “rater” uses a variety of techniques, equipment and expertise to determine the energy efficiency of a structure. The cost of hiring a professional is usually recouped within a few months of energy use.

Professional audits generally go into great detail. The rater should do a room-by-room examination of the residence, as well as a careful review of past utility bills.

All professional energy audits should include a “walk-through,” and blower test, as well as infrared camera use. They reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation. Most audits will include a thermographic scan.

Before the rater visits the home, make a list of any existing problems such as condensation and uncomfortable or drafty rooms. Secure copies or a summary of the house’s annual energy bills. (Your utility can get these for you.)

Most energy audits take from four to eight hours and cost between $500 and $800. Any retrofit work would be an additional investment in savings energy and improving comfort for years to come.

Back To TopHow do I determine if there are air leaks in my home?

First, make a list of obvious air leaks (drafts). Check the following areas that are common sources of air leaks:

  • baseboards
  • window/door frames
  • weather stripping around doors
  • fireplace dampers
  • attic hatches
  • wall or window mounted air conditioner units
  • wall and ceiling penetrations (electrical outlets, switch plates, light fixtures)
  • dampers on bathroom and kitchen vents
  • gaps around pipes (including exhaust fans, wires, and ductwork

In homes where a fuel is burned (i.e., natural gas, fuel oil, propane, or wood) for heating, be sure the appliance has an adequate air supply. Generally, one square inch of vent opening is required for each 1,000 BTU of appliance input heat. When in doubt, contact your local utility, energy professional, or ventilation contractor.

The potential energy savings from sealing air leaks may range from 5% to 30% per year, in addition to greatly improving home comfort.

Back To TopHow do I know if my home needs more insulation?

Your home probably needs insulation if:

  • It was built prior to 1980.
  • It is uncomfortably cold in winter or hot in the summer.
  • Your energy bill seems excessive.
  • You are interrupted by outdoor noise.

Heat loss through the ceiling and walls in your home can be significant if the insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum. Check to see if the level of the attic and wall insulation of your home is at least at the minimum recommended amount. The insulation level might be inadequate, especially if you have an older home.

Back To TopHow do I know if my HVAC equipment should be replaced?

Be sure to check your ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near seams. These indicate air leaks that should be sealed with duct mastic. Ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces should be insulated to unwanted minimize heat transfer.

If you are replacing your filter every month or two, and have an HVAC professional check and clean your equipment annually, then you are doing well.

However, if your unit more than 15 years old and you are interested in lower comfort conditioning costs, you should consider replacing it with a newer, energy-efficient unit. This will significantly reduce your energy consumption, especially if the existing equipment is in poor condition.

Notice

This report was modified in part by Hoosier Energy REC, Inc. for the benefit of its member cooperatives and consumers. The primary content of this report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States government. Neither Hoosier Energy REC, Inc., nor participating Touchstone Energy Home Program participating member electric cooperatives, nor the United States government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Hoosier Energy REC, Inc. and/or the United States government or any agency thereof.