During Nebraska winters, most of the energy used in homes and businesses keeps the interior warm. As we improve the energy efficiency of existing homes and businesses by adding insulation, sealing up air leakage or implementing ways to reduce heating to where and when needed, we often create indoor air quality (IAQ) concerns. At the same time, more new homes are constructed with nearly-air tight building envelopes that create their own air issues if not managed.
If you find yourself unfamiliar with Nebraska’s major IAQ concerns, review information at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Service’s Indoor Air Quality Program.
Major IAQ issues in our state include:
Often, IAQ solutions can be costly when considering the purchase, installation and ongoing energy use. While some solutions require increased energy use, others provide savings after small to medium-cost improvements. Some are as simple and inexpensive as changing your heating system’s air filter or caulking around areas where outside air is infiltrating.Others may require optimizing or replacing your current heating system. Chances are, all IAQ solutions will impact ongoing heating and/or air-conditioning costs.
Usually, long term solutions are better than quick remedies for IAQ problems. Before weighing costly improvements and intensive efforts to improve indoor air quality, reduce heating costs or to achieve “incredible” energy savings, contact your local electric utility. They can provide unbiased perspectives on many efficiency opportunities. In addition, you may find you are eligible for EnergyWise℠ incentives to help with the cost of energy-saving improvements.
Before taking up temporary residency in your garage this winter and cranking up the heat, consider a few of the following projects to keep your energy use from literally going through the roof.