Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Your Home Has No Insulation? What Are Your Heating/Cooling Options?

Insulation is a very important factor in improving building energy efficiency. HVAC or otherwise known as heating, ventilation and cooling accounts for a lot of expenses associated with energy consumption in a building. The economic impact and comfort levels of your indoor space can have a dramatic effect with proper insulation. If your home has no insulation there is no need to panic. Mechanical heating and cooling devices should never be used for homes with improper insulation. You can opt for passive heating and cooling methods to reduce energy consumption and maintain comfort indoors.

It is easy to address your home’s lack of insulation by following these simple steps below. It will be easy on your wallet and also improve your home’s health, energy efficiency and comfort in no time at all.

1. Get an energy audit done

Spending $95 on an energy audit is good investment as it will help you choose appropriate upgrades for your home. You will get a customized report of your home’s energy performance in just two to four hours of thorough assessment. By using specialized equipment like infrared cameras, the energy auditor will be able to pinpoint areas that need insulation like gaps in floors, walls, ceilings. He will also suggest ways to uncover the source of drafts by depressurizing the whole house. A series of tests will also be undertaken to assess indoor air quality, moisture damage risks and combustion safety.

2. Pair air sealing and insulation

You need to opt for air sealing in your home as insulating alone will not eliminate drafts, increase energy efficiency and increase indoor comfort. To illustrate further, pairing air sealing and insulation will give you the option of a hard shell rain jacket and your favorite fleece jacket all at once for optimum comfort. If you don’t have a rain jacket, then cold air can move through the fleece and leave you uncomfortably cold. Only if there is a rain jacket over the fleece then it will act as a barrier, thus keeping you nice and warm.

3. Consider inspecting the attic, crawl space and envelope

Before starting on air sealing and insulation for your home, you and your contractor can consider inspecting the attic, crawl space and vertical envelope to check if it needs proper insulation. Spray foam which is used for loose insulation is preferred if you are considering the attic for conditioned storage. For the basement and crawl space, you need to air seal first and then use batt insulation to the appropriate level. The vertical envelope includes areas around the doors, windows and walls. You need to first upgrade your wall insulation before investing in new windows.
4. Filter good air in and bad air out

Good ventilation indoors is extremely important before air sealing and insulating your home. Areas like the kitchen and bathroom should have a fan to remove indoor moisture and eliminate humidity. You may also need whole house ventilation if you live in areas that experience a lot of heat and humidity.

Ø  Keep the heat out during summer and in during winter

The sun’s heat can be used optimally to warm your indoors during the cold months. Open windows to let natural daylight in. During the warmer months, you can close the windows by installing drapes and blinds to keep the rays out and the cooler air in.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Why Heating and Cooling Play a Big Role in Your Energy Cost?

When it comes to heating and cooling our homes and commercial buildings, the simple choices we make everyday can go a long way in helping us protect the environment around the year by cutting costs and managing energy usage efficiently. According to studies, energy is mostly consumed by heating and cooling. In a typical American home, around 56% of energy is used for heating and cooling, which makes it the largest expense. That is why good energy saving habits will help you save precious fossil fuels for the next generation and a good deal of money. To illustrate better, many of us leave the hot water running while shaving. A lot of energy and resources get wasted because you have used a lot of hot water just to rinse out the razor several times. Always make smart decisions when using your air conditioning/heating systems and your home’s other appliances as they contribute to the positive or negative effect in energy bills and your comfort. Increase the working efficiency of your heating and cooling systems by taking these necessary steps.

Run household appliances at off-peak hours

There are special timings during the day when electricity rates are at the lowest. So you can take advantage of that to use household appliances like your clothes washer, dryer and dish washer. This could be at off-peak hours like early in the morning, late evenings or during weekends for lower energy prices. You can also try washing clothes in cold water and air drying them to save on energy costs.

Tune up your HVAC equipment regularly

If you own a car, you will definitely consider tuning it up with regular maintenance and repairs to keep it in top working condition. In the same way, you HVAC equipment needs regular service checks and maintenance to improve its working efficiency and comfort. It can also prevent unwanted costs and future problems. Get in touch with a qualified contractor to undertake annual pre-season service checks to keep your heating and cooling systems at its peak performance levels. Contractors usually get busy during summer and winter, so it’s best to get your systems checked during spring for the hot months and during fall for the cold months. 

Seal your ducts

Forced heating and cooling systems usually have conditioned air flowing to and from your home’s ducts. Improperly sealed ducts are energy wasters as a lot of air is not used for heating and cooling each room in the house properly. Insulating and sealing ducts can improve your home’s energy efficiency by 20% and sometimes even more.  Focus on areas that need more sealing like your crawlspaces, attic, garage and basement. You can wrap them in insulation after sealing them to prevent them from getting too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. 

Reduce energy usage with a programmable thermostat

You can automate your heating and cooling functions with a programmable thermostat. This helps you save big in energy especially when no one is at home during the day or while everyone is asleep.  

Use household appliances properly

Use appliances like the dishwasher and the clothes washer when you have a full load. A half empty washer uses the same amount of energy as a full one. A fridge works more efficiently if it’s not too full. The reverse applies to the freezer as it works best when it two-thirds full. Apply these simple concepts to everyday living that will help you save in the long run. 

Install Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Bulbs

Instead of using traditional lighting fixtures to light up your indoor spaces, replace them with CFL bulbs as they use 75% less power and lasts for upto 10 times longer than normal bulbs. 

Consider caulking and weather stripping

One important thing that delivers a great return during winter and summer is taking time to plug up air leaks around doors and windows. You can look for cracks and apply caulk on immovable building components to prevent air leakage. Weatherstrip is also another method to create a tight seal around movable building components such as doors and operable windows. 

Invest on Energy Star appliances

Fight climate and save energy by investing in energy star products. Switching to it is not only easy on your pocketbook but is also good for the environment. According to research, if one in ten homes used energy star products, then the impact could be compared to planting around 1.7 million acres of trees. Energy Star products use very less energy compared to traditional products. They may cost more but they help you save upto $80 on energy bills every year.