Goto Site Map Page |  Skip Navigation and read main content

Dedicated to Quality & Safety in Housing & Construction©  Since 1961

graphic: ABI Anniversary Seal

Connect with “The Gurus of How-To”

BBB Online logo Accurate Building Inspectors ® is a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors Accurate Building Inspectors ® is a member of the American Institute of Architects
Accurate Building Inspectors ® is a Division of Ubell Enterprises, Inc.

Licensed: New York (NY) & New Jersey (NJ)

Toll Free: 1-800-640-8285

1860 Bath Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11214-4616

ABI News

Transcript Aug. 3, 2006
Alvin UBELL: Home Energy Savings

Alvin Ubell on CNN

Kyra Phillips, CNN anchor, interviews energy conservation guru and home inspector Alvin Ubell on how to cut home utility costs, save money and save energy.

Aired August 3, 2006 - 13:32 p.m. ET

KYRA PHILLIPS: Well, air conditioners are humming, fans are spinning, and power companies are being taxed to the max, and no wonder. It's near or at 100 degrees in the plains, across the southeast, and up the Eastern Seaboard. What can we do to keep our energy demands down and our utility bills somewhat reasonable?

Well, author and energy expert Alvin Ubell joins us now from New York with some very creative ideas.

Alvin, good to see you.

ALVIN UBELL, ACCURATE BUILDING INSPECTORS: Good morning. Or it's good afternoon already.

PHILLIPS: That's right. Good afternoon. I tell you what, though, it's hard to remember with this heat. It does something to the memory. You know, where do we even start with regard to saving money? A lot of things that you've written about I never realized could actually make a tremendous difference. Should we start with the A.C. and how to handle that?

UBELL: Well, with the A.C. units, the idea is that you're really trying to extract heat energy that is accumulated in your house and to get rid of it. That's a very difficult thing for a machine to do. And so the idea is, if you can some way reduce the amount of heat that comes into your house, that would really be the major trick. And the way you do that is with insulation.

In other words, I think that if anybody wants to do something that's really spectacular, if they took some insulation and put it into their -- into the attic and everything around the house, this would save more energy than anything else. Why? First of all, you don't have to adjust it. You don't have to fix it. You don't have to do anything to it. It does it by itself. And that's what's so marvelous about insulation.

PHILLIPS: So Alvin, you mean just take insulation and put it maybe in all the open areas, like in the attic or storage areas that you have in your house, closet areas?

UBELL: Yes. In other words, the same thing works for a house during the wintertime. If you -- you wouldn't go out in the street with a threadbare sweater in the middle of the winter. You would freeze. So in the summertime, it's just the reverse. You don't want the heat to go out of the house in the wintertime. In this instance, you don't want the heat to come into the house in the summertime. So insulation does that job. It is the most important thing one can do to save energy. Once you put it in, it lasts forever and you don't have to do anything.

However, the control of the thermostat is a very important thing. And I brought one of these regular thermostats along that you can how it works. And for every degree you raise the temperature, you save 2 percent to 3 percent of your energy bill. That is quite significant. And if you raise it -- if you raise it, say, five degrees, you could save as much as 15 percent of your energy bill.

But you also want to be comfortable. So the idea is to drink a lot of water, make sure that the house is as dark as possible. What's happening is if you burn lights in your house, that puts heat into your house, incandescent bulbs. These incandescent bulbs cost so much money to run and also gives off a lot of heat into the house. If you buy a fluorescent bulb, which costs a little bit more -- but the fluorescent bulb is 20 -- it's almost 35 to 40 percent more efficient than the incandescent bulb and lasts about ten times longer. It is really the way to go.

Lighting has improved so much that you save, with one of these little light bulbs that you see here that you use for a night light -- well, right now they have these LEDs. This is 15 to 17 times more efficient than this unit here. This is really amazing.

PHILLIPS: What about unplugging the television? I had no idea that they had heater coils.

UBELL: In a television set -- yes, the television set, when you turn it off, it's not really off. Especially one that uses a cathode ray tube. This -- the cathode ray tube, in the beginning, used to shut it off and you used to have to wait five or -- three or four or five minutes until it warmed up. But now -- people were annoyed with it, so the manufacturers put in a little device in it that when you actually shut it off, it stays on. An cathode ray tube could be at least 200 watts...


UBELL: That's like a 200-watt bulb. When you turn it off, it's about 35 to 40 watts burning continuously for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, forever. And that's the same thing with a computer, if you have an old cathode ray tube, which could be like almost 150 watts or 200 watts. If you have a flat-screen tube -- the flat-screen -- the new type of flat-screen, that's about, I would say, uses maybe 100 watts while it's running, or maybe down to 75 watts.

So there's another way of making your computers more efficient. The thing is, the -- what they call a light bulb -- what a light bulb really is a resistance heater. And if you can reduce the amount of resistance heaters in your house, you will save a tremendous amount of energy and you'll be cooler in your house.

PHILLIPS: Alvin Ubell, I think I'm just going to have come inspect my house. That's the easiest way to do it. And I bet you're going to get - you're going to get a lot of calls now.

UBELL: Actually I have -- actually, people will have and get a free energy audit that they can use themselves. All they have to do is go onto the computer and download it. All they have to do is dial up -- I mean on their computer at Google maybe, And you can download this energy audit, and I guarantee you can save 10, 15 and maybe 20 percent of your energy bill...

PHILLIPS: I love it.

UBELL: .. and also feel comfortable at the same time.

PHILLIPS: Fantastic idea. Alvin Ubell, thanks so much for the tips today. I've got some shopping to do. Thanks, Alvin.

UBELL: Go forth and save energy.

PHILLIPS: All right.

Accurate Building Inspectors® 1860 Bath Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11214-4616
Tel 718-265-8191 :: Toll-Free 1-800-640-8285 :: Fax 718-449-7190
Learn more about ABI's home Inspection Services »