Hey Atlanta, Here is Your Priority Order of Energy-Saving Home Improvements

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Written by Bob Bird, Bird Family Insulation

We recently upgraded the refrigerator in our travel trailer, and in doing so I need to upgrade the battery system so that our 110v electric refrigerator runs while we’re mobile, not plugged in at a campground. I’ve watched “how to” videos on YouTube for probably 20 hours! 

This experience made me realize that Atlanta homeowners are doing the exact same thing – while trying to decide where to best invest their money – for the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to saving energy in their home.

Here is your answer! 

Experience Counts

In this blog post, I will tell you exactly what Bird Family Insulation has learned in the 20 years we have been contracted by Low Income Weatherization agencies, EMC utilities, local governments, Georgia Tech, and Georgia Power Company – here in Georgia and Atlanta specifically. 

Bird Family Insulation is a “preferred contractor” with 3 EMC utilities around Atlanta, and was selected to be a participating contractor in the city of Atlanta’s SHINE program and Decatur’s WISE program when they were active.

After performing energy-saving upgrades on literally thousands and thousands of Atlanta homes – we’ve seen a pattern emerge as to how these utility companies, co-ops, city governments, Ga Tech, and agencies rank the improvements we are authorized to make on homes. Homes probably just like the one you live in!

Ready to Trim Your Power Bills?

Keep in mind – the utility companies are motivated to make improvements to your home that will save the greatest amount of kilowatt hours on your electric bill. In other words, these improvements are proven to curb your home’s appetite for electricity. 

Low Income Weatherization agencies are motivated to make certain improvements by the folks who provide their funding. Basically, they have very similar priorities as the electric utility companies. Cutting the occupant’s electric and gas bills is their motivation.

Atlanta, Here Are The Top Three Improvements to Trim Your Home’s Power Bills!

There are THREE FUNDAMENTAL IMPROVEMENTS that we perform on every Atlanta house that (apparently) yields the greatest reduction in energy demand. I use the word “apparently”, because these groups don’t tell their contractors everything.

  • Air seal the shell of the house and plumbing penetrations (holes for pipes under your sinks, etc) for an improved seal against air infiltration. This includes sealing air ducts in certain instances.
  • Upgrade the attic insulation to either R-38 or R-49 (depends on the agency).
  • Install electricity-saving devices, such as…
    • LED bulbs
    • “Smart” power strips
    • Dusk-to-Dawn LED bulbs in outdoor fixtures
    • Water flow restrictors to curb hot-water demand
    • SMART thermostats

So now you have the inside scoop on where to spend your “home improvement”  budget for the greatest energy savings. And you didn’t have to watch 20 hours of YouTube videos!

Wait, There’s More Energy Upgrades to Consider

You’ll notice that some upgrades are obviously missing from my list. We generally do not get paid to make the following improvements, nor do they qualify for specific rebates in most of the programs we are active in. When bundled with other services they may help meet Kilowatt reduction goals for certain specific rebates.

  1. Floor insulation. 
  2. Wall insulation. (In certain instances Low Income Weatherization agencies paid us to drill-and-fill walls.)
  3. Replace windows. 

Are there upgrades you should consider, that I’ve not listed? Absolutely!

  • Upgrade your HVAC equipment with higher-efficiency rated units.
  • Upgrade your laundry appliances, and use a clothes line!
  • Upgrade the insulation on your air-ducts that are located in a vented attic and in a vented crawlspace.

So much more can be added to this article, such as occupant behavior patterns, color of exterior surfaces, and landscape design for afternoon & evening shade that also have dramatic effects on your power bills.

In our world, here at Bird Family Insulation – we’ve never heard an Atlanta homeowner say these 9 words: “Bob, I wish I hadn’t installed more attic insulation!”

Where do you start? 

Assuming that your windows and doors are intact… If your attic has less than 12” insulation, start there. But be certain that your contractor includes the words, “air sealing” in his proposal. You want the holes & gaps around bathroom exhaust fans, air vents, and recessed lights sealed, as well as larger bypasses sealed before insulation is installed. Be sure to include the attic access too!

The Magic Of Stabilized Cellulose Attic Insulation!

Because we install stabilized (moistened) cellulose attic insulation – it has a much higher density than fiberglass insulation. And the high density nature of stabilized cellulose really works to provide similar benefits as air sealing the attic floor! You want to stop that unwanted trespassing of air between your attic and your living space. Stabilized cellulose insulation does that.

Your Small Steps Bring Huge Energy Savings

  • For those of you with a ladder and good balance, consider upgrading every light bulb in your home to LED. 
  • Upgrade your outdoor lighting with dusk-to-dawn LED bulbs. 
  • Install a smart power strip on every TV larger than 20”, and if you have a dvd player, or a sound bar, (every accessory for that tv), plug it into the strip too.

If you have an “old-school” office with a desktop computer, monitor, and printer – consider plugging them into a smart power strip.

One thing about these smart power strips: we have to be certain that they say “Tier one” on the package, or they are not accepted by the power company. Use this keyword search term when shopping for them: “Tier one smart power strip”. Greenlite advanced power strip brand is what we typically install.

I hope this helps. God Bless You! Now you don’t need to invest 20 hours watching YouTube videos. Are you ready for an instant, online estimate for attic insulation? 

Check out my easy-to-use online calculators for upgrading your attic insulation here: https://birdinsulation.com/attic-bump-up-estimate/

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