Every area of a house is a potential avenue to improve energy efficiency, says PosiGen’s CEO Thomas Neyhart.
To improve your home’s energy efficiency, the steps you take can save money and reduce your carbon footprint. The average residence in the United States uses 10,766-kilowatt-hours per year. Although this amount varies in hot or cold areas of the country; adopting some techniques can reduce this amount.
Considering both major and minor energy expenditures is a first step in the right direction, says Thomas Neyhart. While daunting to some homeowners, these renovations can have a substantial impact on your home’s energy efficiency. Every element of the house – the building envelope, ventilation, heating, cooling systems, the external environment, and even the occupants’ activities – affects one another.
According to statistics, your home will most likely require the repair or replacement of various features every decade. By considering certain modifications, you can lower your spending and energy usage in the long run. Thomas Neyhart has come up with five areas you should pay close attention to during your next renovation.
1. Repair or Replace windows. In both new and existing homes, energy-efficient windows should be an essential consideration. Heat gain and heat loss through windows account for 25%–30% of household heating and cooling energy use. It is important to choose the most efficient and affordable windows that work best in your climate in newly constructed houses. One solid tip from Thomas Neyhart is to take a look at the ENERGY STAR label. Then, look at the ratings on the National Fenestration Rating Council’s (NFRC) energy performance label to locate the best energy-efficient windows for your needs.
If you can’t afford to replace your windows or your existing windows are in good condition, making efforts to reduce energy loss through windows can make your house more pleasant and save your money on energy costs. A couple of things you can do to improve the efficiency of existing windows include:
- Check existing windows for air leaks.
- Caulk and weatherstrip.
- Add exterior shading, solar control film, and storm windows or panels
- Add window treatments and coverings
A thorough check ensuring proper installation and no air leaks after any efficiency improvement is important.
2. Install Energy-Effective Exterior Doors. You lose a lot more energy than you think through the doors of your home. Using properly insulated doors with adequate thermal reflection ability keeps the temperature consistent, which translates to using less energy to maintain your preferred conditions.
When selecting a door, Thomas Neyhart advises that you look out for its R-value. The R-value stands for reflectivity value, and it tells how energy efficient a door is by how much energy it reflects. Experts rate doors from 1 and 9, with one being the least reflective and nine being the most. The more energy reflected by the door, the more energy the home retains. To get the best value, consider picking a door with a value between 7-9 if possible. It is not advisable to go below five if you can help it.
Doors with a low R-value or an ill-fitting frame can affect your house’s climate control by allowing the air conditioning to seep out or the heat and humidity seep in. When excessive humidity enters your home, it does not only make you uneasy but destroys your belongings.
An added benefit worth noting according to Thomas Neyhart, is the increase of your home value. One thing Home buyers appreciate is energy efficiency. Energy-efficient doors are one more selling point that a Realtor can use to increase your home’s appeals and value to potential buyers.
3. Make Your Roof Energy Efficient. Roofs play a vital role in shielding houses from harsh weather, but they can raise costs if they are not energy-efficient. In areas with no shade, the roof is exposed to the sun for long hours and increases indoor temperatures. To maintain a comfortable indoor temperature, the HVAC system will need to overwork which translates to an increase in energy bills. To make your roof more energy-efficient, there are a couple of things you need to consider.
Selecting the color of shingles determines the energy efficiency of a roof. Most homeowners pick colors based on how they will affect the aesthetic of the house. It is important to keep in mind that dark roofing materials absorb heat and raise the interior temperature of the house. On the flip side, lighter colors absorb less heat causing a house to be cooler.
Your choice of roofing material also determines whether a roof saves energy. When installing a new roof or getting a replacement, Thomas Neyhart advises selecting a material that is energy efficient. Materials like asphalt shingles and metal roofs are good options. Metal roofs have a reflective coat that reduces the amount of heat absorbed and saves energy that would otherwise be used for cooling.
4. Insulated Vinyl Siding. According to The United States Department of Energy, when new siding is to be installed, it is a good idea to consider adding insulation. Continuous insulation is a frequent solution for reducing energy loss.
There might be an unnoticed energy leak in your walls that is costing you money on a daily basis. Wooden studs in the wall are the source of this leakage. Through a process called thermal bridging, energy moves from the warmer region to the colder region (either during summer or winter). And because studs account for 25% of a home’s wall area, it’s the equivalent of having one complete wall of the house without insulation.
According to Thomas Neyhart, the best way to address the energy loss through studs is by adding continuous insulation to the outside of the house when experts install new siding. Insulated vinyl siding is an efficient way to insulate a house when installing new siding. There are other ways to achieve energy saving with cheaper alternatives. However, to achieve maximum energy savings using insulated vinyl siding or combining it with other options is the most efficient way to go.
5. A Supporting Environment. As we have come to see, when improving the energy efficiency of a home, what is outside can be what counts. A few minor tricks can go a long way in creating a more energy-efficient home says Thomas Neyhart. Planting Deciduous trees like maples and beeches is a great way to provide shade for your windows, walls, and roofs. These trees are most efficient on the east and west sides to avoid the sun in summer but let it in during the winter.
For houses with pools, it is no news that a pool pump requires a lot of energy. In some cases, the pump uses more energy than the washing machine, dryer, and dishwasher together. The most energy-efficient way around this problem would be to search for energy-efficient pumps that will meet your needs. And you might need to invest in a pool cover.