Not only are energy efficient homes a savvy choice for saving money, they are also the best way to incorporate ‘going green.’ In a slumbering economy saving a few dollars can make all the difference in your stretched budget. Years ago finding ways to make your home more energy efficient was quite challenging, but thanks to advances in technology and more cost effective services, this process has gotten a little less tedious and less expensive. Whether you’re revamping your entire house or simply looking for inexpensive ways to include energy efficiency, there are many ways to go about doing so.
Regardless of how efficient you intend to be there are some basic elements to get a handle on when making your home energy efficient. Home owners must take into consideration things such as their thermal envelop status, ventilation, doors and windows and their current healing and cooling systems.
When determining the efficiency of your homes thermal envelop everything from doors to windows must be surveyed. This also includes the roofing, ventilation and insulation or lack thereof. The level and quality of your thermal envelop determines how much heat or cool air your home retains, in variation with the outside weather conditions.
Most houses are built of wood; the quality of that wood can make a big difference in your home’s energy efficiency. Recently there have been many advances in the wood used to build structurally sound properties and owners can now purchase harvested wood, which is super energy efficient.
For a more energy efficient home there are myriad options that your contractor can install and implement.
Insulation is one of the key ways to make a home more energy efficient. Insulation comes in R-grades or R-values. The R value of your home simply means how well the insulation holds or retains heat. The lower the R grade or value, the quicker heat can escape. One of the biggest factors that determine what your home’s R grade will be is the location where it was built. Homes built in regions that must sustain cooler climates will usually have varying R grades throughout the house because of the harsh winters. So a home built in Boston may have R grade insulation of 11 for the walls or floors, but and R 19 for ceilings, as heat rises and will try to find an exit there. Poor insulation will wreck havoc on your home’s energy efficiency.
Another fairly cost effective way to better your home’s energy efficiency is to install air or vapor retarders. Water condensation is damaging to a home’s structure whether the home resides in cool or warm climates. When warm and cool air collide in between a home’s walls it can cause condensation which then leads to wood rotting and other issues like mold and mildew. By installing retarders, airflow is distributed instead of resting within the walls causing damage. They will also inhibit any water vapor from settling within walls. Free flowing air and water vapor will lessen the chances of structural damage.
Much of a home’s heat or air conditioning is lost through windows. Homes build in warm climate regions should have fewer windows on the northern, western and eastern sides of the house. If you home has windows that are old, chipping or cracking, replace them immediately with newer, more energy efficient models now available. Though they are a bit more expensive, in the long run the money you save on heating and cooling costs will be evident.
Also consider purchasing and installing overhangs for your windows, particularly those on the southern end of your home as this area tends to get the most sunshine, thus hotter temperatures. Keeping those areas shaded can make a huge difference. Doors and windows with the Energy Star emblem on them will save you as much as 10% more on your energy and heating bills.
Enough cannot be said for weatherizing your home when it comes to being energy efficient. Holes, cracks and foundation separations are among the leading causes of energy fleeing from your house. Weather stripping and caulking these areas can reduce energy losses by as much as 50% and the cost to do so is very little. Use this liberally around the homes foundation, windows and doors.
The most energy efficient homes also have controlled ventilation. Proper ventilation is essential not only for energy saving but for health reasons. Good ventilation will keep the air flowing throughout the house, but will also prevent air pollution and associated health risks as well as balance and maintain your homes moisture level. Many of the appliances we use everyday such as washers, dryers, refrigerators and fans eject air from the house and can cause even the most air tight house to depressurize. When combined with the air that our appliances release, the result is often an unstable environment filled with toxic gases that are harmful to our health. Proper ventilation will correct this and consistently circulate the air.
Seek guidance as to whether your home’s air conditioning and heating system is the proper size for your home’s square footage. Too large of systems in smaller areas results in wasted energy and a system that is too small to heat large areas means it has to overwork. This will cause heating and cooling bills to skyrocket. For smaller areas consider using a small or medium sized fans when the night chill comes as this is often enough to cool the indoors instead of wasting electricity with central air or energy draining air conditioners.
Finally, one by one, replace your existing appliances with energy efficient ones. Initially this can be a costly venture but the overall savings is phenomenal. Begin by replacing a few of the smaller, inexpensive appliances and work your way up to bigger purchases if necessary. Many utility companies are also giving nice rebates as well for homeowners who are switching to energy efficient methods.