Energy efficiency packages or “EEP’s” are a great way for you to reduce your homes energy consumption. Often times you will hear your solar provider mention or insist on installing some or all components of an EEP. It is important to understand what makes up an EEP and whether or not you need one installed along with your solar PV system. Unfortunately, not every solar company will take the time to properly evaluate your home to ensure an EEP is beneficial. This is why it is important for the homeowner to understand their homes potential energy loss and areas for improvement. For a general rule of thumb, most homes built after 2010 should not need a full energy efficiency package as the insulation is of higher R value than older homes and less heat or cool air is loss with tighter construction. Add to that energy star rated appliances and LED lighting, most newer homes could see a decrease in usage of about 15% max. Lifestyle changes within the home would have to occur to achieve anything higher than 15%, like having children move off to college.
For homes 10 years older or more, energy efficiency packages can have a huge impact on overall consumption. One of the biggest “power bandits” in any home is the A/C unit. Heating and cooling make up for about 50% of a homes total energy bill. For a home that is not sealed tightly, the A/C unit will continually run. Not only does this lead to higher power bills, it also leads to these A/C units having shorter life spans. Other than the environment the unit is trying to control, the unit itself can be inefficient as well. Now it is recommended to go with at-least a 13 seer unit or in some areas 14 seer which can reduce usage by as much as 30%.
Inside the home, steps should be taken to seal up any penetrations or cracks around doors, windows, attic entrances, eves etc. At the attic door in the ceiling, you may notice in the summer the door is much hotter than the surrounding ceiling. This is because heat is trapped inside the attic and radiating back down into the home. The attic door will be the biggest culprit and with a thermal camera a professional can show you exactly where the air is coming from and going. Without proper ventilation and a heat barrier, the whole attic can act as an oven on top of the home, keeping the A/C unit running constantly and that power bill going up!
Now this article isn’t meant to deter you from Energy Efficiency Packages by telling you to go out and upgrade your whole homes appliances and A/C unit. This article is meant to provide insight into what an “EEP” is and educate homeowners on ways they can take steps to reduce electrical usage themselves while potentially avoiding paying for unnecessary components that may have little to no effect.
When an “EEP’ is included in your Solar PV solution, it is imperative to have correct information regarding the property and its detailed usage. In cases where an energy audit was not properly performed a Solar PV system’s offset can be severely impacted since the system size will be based off incorrect reduction from the EEP. Instead of building a system to 90% offset, some may suggest a smaller system size 60% with an EEP to reduce consumption by 30%, still resulting in a total offset of 90%*. This of course will reduce the overall cost of the solar solution because you aren’t paying for the 30% bigger system, you are only paying for the energy efficiency package but if the EEP does not effectively reduce usage then your offset will be wrong and your power bill will be higher than proposed.
Overall, EEP’s are essential when applied appropriately but not everyone needs it. Consider having a professional energy audit performed along with your Solar PV consultation, we work with one of the best in the area and are always happy to help set up a non-biased professional site visit. Reach out to our office 804-452-7699