Ways to Improve Energy Efficiency in Your Home
Your home has several key areas most likely to become trouble spots and create issues for your home’s energy performance. The Environmental Protection Agency’s “green building” resources identifies some of the areas, which include:
Your home’s envelope – Gaps and cracks in outer walls, ceilings, windows, doors and floors are entry points for letting in hot air in the summertime. By adding to the air flow – in some cases as much as an open window would create – they cause your cooling and heating system to work overtime. What can you do? Seal and insulate to cut down on energy loss and improve comfort. Also, consider installing energy-efficient windows and doors.
Your cooling and heating system – Your home comfort system accounts for as much as half of your energy bill, so what happens here takes up a big part of your energy spending. What can you do? Suggestions include installing a programmable thermostat to maintain temperatures appropriate to the activity in the home, saving energy and preserving comfort. Also, make sure annual maintenance is performed on your system by a qualified contractor. Echoing the concerns about your home’s envelope, sealing leaky ducts will improve your system’s performance.
The right replacement system – The right equipment installed properly makes a huge difference as well. The EPA says, “Replacing your old heating and cooling equipment with new, energy-efficient models is a great start. But to make sure that you get the best performance, the new equipment must be properly installed. In fact, improper installation can reduce system efficiency by up to 30 percent – costing you more on your utility bills and possibly shortening the equipment’s life.”
Whole house retrofit – Pointing to another important solution, the EPA says, “Some homeowners, frustrated by high energy bills and uncomfortable homes, undertake a comprehensive solution to their energy efficiency problems. Rather than focusing on a single component, such as replacing single-paned windows, an old air conditioning system or leaky ductwork, a qualified contractor will examine how improvements to all of these components can work together to provide greater comfort and lower utility bills. By focusing on the whole house as a system, the contractor can provide the most cost-effective recommendations to improve the home.”