3 Energy Saving Tips to Revitalize an Old Home
In comparing energy efficiency, the difference between an existing home and a newly constructed one is that a new home is generally 30% more energy efficient. Considering a typical American household spends $115 a month on utilities, it’s easy to see just how great your savings could be.
However, not everyone is lucky enough to be in a situation where they can build their own brand new home, especially in this economy! Nevertheless, there are still things that you can do to your current home to make it more energy efficient, leading to significant financial savings plus a more comfortable living environment.
First, look for proper insulation
Only 20% of pre 1980 homes are insulated to the proper standard. Up to 1/3 of your heating could be escaping through the ceiling.
In the USA, your attic insulation should be between R-30 and R-60, depending on where you live.
Although the attic is a major contributor to heat loss, an older home could also be lacking insulation elsewhere. By investing time and money insulating walls, crawlspaces, floors and garages, you could save up to 50% in energy costs!
How old is your air conditioner?
What equipment and appliances could be changed to ENERGY STAR versions? ENERGY STAR rated products save between 20% and 30% on average.
For many, the air conditioner will have the greatest effect when making an energy comparison. This is especially true in hotter climates. In Florida, 40% of utility bills are taken up by the HVAC system – mostly for cooling.
In most cases, a new air conditioner will be 30% more energy efficient, and by upgrading your air conditioner from a SEER 9 to a SEER 13, you could save up to $300 annually.
A general contractor can help you, where the builders haven’t
A new home doesn’t just perform better because of energy efficient components. Older homes simply weren’t built with energy efficiency high on the agenda.
This is where a RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractor can help – consider hiring one. As an experienced Home Energy Professional trained in energy efficiency, they can show you where you’re losing energy and provide cost effective solutions.
Take your ductwork for example. Older ducts were often not properly sealed or insulated, resulting in many older homes having up to and even over 40% duct leakage. Imagine, 40% of your money could be spent heating the Christmas tree in the attic!
But it’s not surprising that ducts aren’t checked for such leaks very often. After all, nobody enjoys working in the filthy old crawl space do they?
Talk to a RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractor about cleaning, sealing and insulating your ductwork, while making sure all the connections with the registers are tight.
Old House Insulation Tips
Many older homes retain a rustic charm, a unique design, or handcrafted woodwork that makes them a desirable place to live in. Unfortunately, living in an older home may also mean spending more on heating and cooling costs than is necessary. While many of these dwellings are very attractive from a style perspective, one area where they tend to be weak in is home insulation.
There’s no denying the importance of craftsmanship, and of course the overall attractiveness of a house is very important; after all, who buys a house that they don’t find appealing? However, if a home isn’t properly insulated – and unfortunately many older ones suffer from poor home insulation – the result is higher energy costs and an uncomfortable home.
When comes to older homes, there are several areas that can benefit from added or improved insulation.
Attics: Many older homes lack proper insulation in the attic. This is easily fixed using batt and roll or blown-in insulation.
Basements: Exterior basement walls and floor can benefit from the addition of home insulation. This includes sealing any cracks or openings in the foundation with foam insulation. This also applies to crawl spaces.
Exterior walls: If you are planning a home renovation, this is an excellent time to take a look at what type of insulation is behind the plaster or drywall on exterior walls. You can easily insulate these areas properly with either batt and roll or blown-in home insulation.
Windows: Sealing the area around windows with weather stripping or caulking is the first step to stopping unwanted airflow. Consider replacing windows that are old or outdated.
Doors: As with windows, make sure all exterior doors are properly sealed. Many older homes have doorframes that have warped or shifted over time. Consider a new, tightly sealed door and frame replacement.
Ducts and vents: A lot of warm air can be lost through old or improperly sealed vent and ductwork. Sealing the ductwork prevents air from being lost and needlessly replaced by your heating system.
While we have focused on much older homes, the same principles apply to homes constructed right up until the 1970’s as well. Many homes that are in the 30 year-old range can benefit from new or updated insulation.
Contact a certified RESNET insulation expert who can offer advice on how proper home insulation will reduce your energy consumption and make your older home a more comfortable place to live in.
How Heating and Cooling Contractors Can Save or Cost You Money
The average American homeowner spends $1,000 a year heating and cooling their house. It makes up almost half your total energy costs.
Of course, bringing in a heating and cooling contractor to improve energy efficiency can pay off. So where should you be checking for improvements?
First of all, make sure you’re properly insulated. A poorly insulated attic can put immense strain on your heating and cooling system. Heat beats down from the attic in the summer, and heat escapes through the ceiling in the winter.
Also, seal leaks in the ductwork and insulate the sections that run through uninsulated areas of your house. Exposed and leaky ducts and vents can put a huge burden on your HVAC system. A RESNET qualified heating and cooling contractor can take care of duct cleaning, and uncovering blockages. This’ll improve the airflow.
A RESNET Qualified EnergySmart Contractor will also perform a combustion safety check before and after, ensuring there’s no back drafting of gas or oil burning appliances.
But while contractors can save you money, they can also cost you dearly
Remember this if you decide to install a new air conditioner. Many people wrongly believe your air conditioner’s size should be proportionate to your home.
Always beware of contractors who judge your air conditioner size based on square footage of your house. An oversized air conditioner costs more to buy. But that’s not the worst part. It’ll use more energy, whilst cycling on and off more frequently. This shortens its life span.
You don’t want to keep paying for the wrong contractor years after they’ve walked out your door, so take a little care to begin with. Check your contractor’s references, as well as their training and qualifications. Look for a local certified RESNET air conditioning contractor.
Any RESNET qualified contractor has undertaken rigorous energy efficiency training and passed a RESNET administered exam. Certified RESNET contractors can also be held to account if you have a valid complaint.
So what should an energy conscious air conditioning contractor be doing?
They’ll probably be in your house for at least an hour before suggesting your best-suited air conditioner. This is because they’ll measure everything that may affect the unit’s performance. Measurements of the floors must be taken, as well as the window to wall ratio. They’ll also be checking the standard of insulation in the attic, walls and crawl spaces.
This means you’ll be fitted with an air conditioner that’s accurately sized, as opposed to one that’s based solely on your home’s square footage.
Upgrading your air conditioner from a SEER 9 to a SEER 13 can have a 30% reduction on your bills. That can be up to $300 depending on where you are. However, no air conditioner can save you money if it’s wrong for your home or fitted incorrectly. A RESNET certified heating and cooling contractor can help you find the option that’s best for you.