Cool Energy-Saving Inventions of the Future

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So, for right now, the best, cheapest ways to make energy-efficiency improvements to your home aren’t all that sexy or exciting. Seal your windows, change your light bulbs, install low-flow faucets, add insulation to your walls and ceiling. These are all things the Energy Resource Center can help Southern Colorado residents do to reduce their utility bills, by the way.

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But, there are already some really exciting energy-saving inventions on the market that could revolutionize the way new homes are built and how we make our existing Colorado houses more energy efficient. They just haven’t quite made it into the ERC or most homeowners’ or homebuyers’ budgets yet. Increased awareness and experimentation will likely bring some of these ideas to the mainstream within the next decade or so.

Radiant in-floor heating

This is already starting to make its way into some higher-end new home construction. Radiant heating uses either electric coils or hot water pipes built into the floor of your home to consistently heat the surface you walk on. Because heat rises, it warms everything it touches and keeps the rooms of your home uniformly toasty from floor to ceiling. In-floor radiant heating can save you about 30 percent on your heating costs.

Geothermal

This technology is picking up a lot of steam on military bases and in some high-end commercial buildings. Every so often, you might hear about it in a particularly green home.

Geothermal HVAC systems draw water from deep in the earth where it has a consistent temperature year round. It’s warmer than the outside air in the winter and cooler than the outside air in the summer. The water and heat exchangers work together to efficiently heat and cool your home. Where the most efficient natural gas furnaces can reach 98 percent efficiency, geothermal systems can be 400 to 600 percent efficient.

Mini-split heat exchanger

This is a more affordable, but lesser-known technology that could be particularly applicable in Colorado’s milder climates and in smaller houses. An outdoor compressor pumps refrigerant through heat exchangers that can heat and cool small zoned spaces, allowing residents to heat or cool different rooms individually. They are typically an easy retrofit for houses that don’t have air ducts, though they do have to be properly located and sized in order to work most efficiently.

Solar energy

Rooftop solar panels are becoming increasingly common in Colorado, and they’re not necessarily just for the rich anymore. While Colorado Springs Utilities does not offer its rebates for customers who lease rooftop systems yet, there are discussions about including third-party-owned systems in the rebate program.

Leasing solar often allows homeowners to buy energy from a third party — the electricity the solar panels on your roof generate — for less than grid power costs without having to buy the system upfront.

What ERC can do

There are a lot of cool and innovative energy-saving inventions that could one day help regular Colorado residents reduce their utility bills. Remember that some of the inventions saving utility customers on their bills today were futuristic not long ago.

Until then, we can perform comprehensive home energy audits and help you make weatherization home improvements. We offer our services for a small fee or for free to income-qualified residents of El Paso, Teller, Fremont, Elbert, Douglas, Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Saguache and Rio Grande counties.  

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Our Loveland office has moved! If you are in the Weld, Boulder, Larimer country service area please contact our Sterling office at 970-463-7020 or email lovelandinfo@erc-co.org