Your House and the Whole Home Approach
Your home and the energy related equipment (including insulation in walls, windows, and other structural components) are likely worth tens of thousands of dollars. The equipment and materials work together as a system – from the heating and cooling equipment, to the insulation. Thinking through how to maximize the efficiency of your home requires an integrated approach.
Whole system approach
Increasing your home’s efficiency is usually more than switching out light bulbs or buying new appliances; it is about approaching your home as a complete system with heating, air conditioning, insulation, water and other systems all working together in tandem. A simple way to think about your home is that you have heating and cooling systems which condition the air to make you comfortable. You have duct systems to distribute the air throughout your house. Finally, you have a building shell to keep the air from escaping your house. Often times making multiple improvements will increase the efficiency of your home at maintaining the heating and cooling generated by your HVAC system. This can both lower your utility bills and improve your comfort.
Heating and Cooling Equipment
Depending on how well they are maintained, heating systems generally last 15 to 20 years and cooling systems last 10 to 15 years. Older equipment is much less efficient that newer systems. A new heating system can save you up to 30% of your heating costs and a new cooling system up to 50% of your cooling costs.
Ducts Sealing and Insulation
Many homes have ducts to distribute air to each room in your home. When ducts are poorly sealed and insulated, they lose up to 30% of the heated / cooled air before it reaches the rooms in your home. The net effect is that, often times, rooms are unevenly heated and cooled or in some cases, they cannot be adequately conditioned at all.
Proper insulation can significantly reduce the loss of heated or cooled air by as much as 50%. Older buildings generally have significantly less insulation, if any at all! By adding attic, wall and crawlspace insulation, you can lower your heating / cooling costs and also make your home more comfortable. In addition to insulation, more efficient windows help to keep your home from heating up in the summer and cooling off in the winter. Finally, properly ‘weatherizing’ your home can significantly reduce air leakage in your home, again making you more comfortable and saving you lots of money.
This tool creates the best plan for you, and then can connect you to the experts and resources you need to take a “whole system” approach, finalize your plan and maximize your savings.