A whole-house systems approach to energy efficiency views the entire property as a system dependent on the quality functioning of its interdependent parts. When one or more of these parts are broken or functioning poorly, the whole system becomes negatively affected. Applying a whole-house systems approach to your home can reduce your monthly energy costs and improve your indoor air quality. So not only does the overall efficiency get improved, but you also, perhaps more importantly, you can gain some insight in to comfort and safety issues as well.
The best place to start in developing a plan of attack is to schedule a home performance assessment. A specially trained building professional will utilize sophisticated tools and meters to evaluate the weaknesses of your home. He will uncover any potential weaknesses and prioritize them into an action plan based upon his evaluation and findings.
The savvy homeowner can get a head start on the process by addressing the list below. Here are six essential steps you can take to improve the whole-system energy efficiency of your home:
- Air sealing - While ventilation is important, it's critical that the homeowner is able to control the places where indoor conditioned and heated air is exchanged with fresh outdoor air. To reduce the amount of air that's lost through unwanted gaps, holes and leaks, it's important to seal leaks throughout the home. Use caulk, weatherstripping and expanding foam to seal around exterior doors, windows, plumbing, electrical and venting penetrations.
- Ductwork - Leaky and loose ductwork can be a major culprit of lost energy. Have a professional check your ducts for any holes, gaps or disconnected runs. You can use mechanical fasteners to better secure the metal sheets and mastic sealant to seal any gaps.
- Insulation - Your attic insulation should have a minimum R-value of 30. Additions or improvements to the insulation in your attic, interior walls and between flooring levels can help reduce energy costs.
- Windows- For a major boost in home energy efficiency, consider replacing single-pane windows with double-pane models. On a budget? Use exterior shading techniques like tinted window film, solar screens and awnings to block solar radiation from effecting your HVAC's cooling load. You can also embrace the sun's natural heating capabilities in the winter months by opening your drapes and curtains to let the sun shine in.
- HVAC system - Making improvements won't help if your equipment isn't regularly maintained. Homeowners can do basic upkeep tasks like replacing air filters and cleaning condensate lines. However, scheduled HVAC technician appointments should be made for tasks involving refrigerant and electrical controls. Regular maintenance has been proven to reduce utility costs associated with heating and cooling by up to 30%.
- Lighting and appliances - As your old products wear out, consider replacing them with more energy-efficient models that will both consume less energy and produce less heat, indirectly lowering your system's cooling load.
For more information about energy efficiency approaches you can take with your home, contact P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. Our HVAC experts proudly serve homeowners in and around the greater Cleveland area.Follow @PKwadsworth
Paul Wadsworth is the President and Owner of P.K. Wadsworth Heating and Cooling. For 37 years, Paul has been providing heating and cooling services to the Greater Cleveland area. P.K. Wadsworth has been a trusted Cleveland HVAC service company for over 75 years. The company understand the area's construction and local heating and air conditioning needs. Paul has an MBA from the University of Michigan and a B.S., Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. Paul is the Chairman of COSE's Energy Advisory Council. He's been President of the Cleveland Air Conditioning Contractors of America and a founding member of the local chapter. Paul was born and raised in Cleveland and has been active in the local community. He resides in Cleveland, Ohio with his wife and two sons.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.