Energy-Efficient Equipment

To make the most of your Touchstone Energy® HomeSM, you’ll need to use energy-efficient equipment. While it’s usually more expensive than standard equipment, lower utility bills, greater comfort, and the possibility of qualifying for an energy-efficient mortgage make installation of high-efficiency systems well worth the added cost.

Water Heating

Water heating is the second largest energy expense in your home. It typically accounts for 14% or more of your utility bill. Only heating and cooling costs exceed water-heating costs.

A family of four showering for 5 minutes a day, uses 700 gallons of water a week. That’s enough for a 3-year supply of drinking water for one person. You can cut that amount in half by using low-flow showerheads and faucets.

The Touchstone Energy Home program requires use of an energy-efficient electric water heater. You can also reduce your water-heating bills by using less hot water and turning down the thermostat on your water heater.

Electric Heat Pumps

A heat pump is a device that extracts available heat from one area (the heat source) and transfers it to another (the heat sink) to either heat or cool an interior space.

For instance, during the winter the heat pump extracts heat from the air outside and transfers it to the inside of the house to heat the house. During the summer, the heat pump extracts heat from the air inside the house and transfers it outside.

Heat pumps can be very energy efficient, because they draw heat instead of generating it. But because the efficiency drops as the air outside gets very cold, many builders install ground-loop or geothermal heat pumps. These heat pumps operate more efficiently than the standard air- source heat pumps, because the ground doesn’t get as cold as the outside air (and during the summer, it doesn’t heat up as much).

Heat Ducts

Your home’s duct system, that branching network of tubes in the walls, floors, and ceilings, carries the air from your home’s furnace and central air conditioner to each room.

Ducts are made of sheet metal, fiberglass, or other materials. Unfortunately, many duct systems are not insulated properly, especially where ducts come together. Ducts that leak heated air into unheated spaces can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills. Insulating ducts that are in unconditioned spaces is usually very cost effective. If you are buying a new duct system, consider one that comes with insulation already installed.

Then, to ensure heated air is not leaking into unheated spaces and unconditioned air isn’t being drawn into your system — wasting hundreds of dollars a year in heating and cooling costs — seal your ductwork. This is even more important if the ducts are located in an unconditioned area, such as an attic or vented crawl space.