Energy Efficient Home
Is My Home Energy Efficient?
This is a question we hear all the time at Armstrong Plumbing, Air & Electric. Every month you pay your utility bills and you can’t help but wonder if your home is energy efficient or if you’re wasting money. The first thing you need to realize is your house is a complicated system involving the structure and the systems in them. The way to save money is by taking cost-effective measures to improve both.
Here are some specific suggestions from Armstrong to help you achieve your goal of having an energy efficient home.
Make sure the attic and walls are well-insulated
Effective insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of the house in winter or into the house in summer, so less energy is required to heat or cool your home. Would it shock you to learn Texas didn’t change its insulation codes until 1980? Prior to that, many homes were built with no insulation in the walls. If your house has no wall insulation, blown-in insulation can greatly improve your comfort and save enough energy to be very cost-effective. On the other hand, it rarely pays to blow additional insulation into already insulated walls.
Take a look at your attic. It should have insulation, but does it have enough? According to the Department of Energy, a properly insulated attic can shave 10 to 50 percent off your heating and cooling bills. Here is a good rule of thumb: If you can see the tops of your ceiling joists, then your attic is not energy efficient and needs more insulation.
Upgrade or replace windows
It is almost never cost-effective to replace windows just to save energy. According to EnergyStar.gov, replacing windows will save 7 to 24 percent of your heating and air-conditioning bills, but the larger savings would be associated with replacing single-glazed windows.
If you are replacing your windows for other reasons, it is cost-effective to spend a little extra money for Energy StarⓇ rated windows. They generally cost about $15 more per window but will make your home more efficient and comfortable.
Often times, the best choice is to make your current windows as airtight as possible. Caulking and weather stripping can be a great weekend do-it-yourself project, or you can hire a professional.
Replace an older furnace with a high-efficiency system.
- Furnaces built prior to 1992 likely waste 35% of the fuel they burn
- The next generation of furnaces had annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) ratings of 80%
- Today, the AFUE rating is at least 90% and as high as 98%
Clearly, a new furnace will save you money on your energy bills; the amount depends on the efficiency of your old system. Our comfort consultant will be able to help you determine the AFUE of your present system and whether it’s still operating at that level.
Replace an older air conditioner with a high-efficiency system
The story is much the same for your air conditioner. If it is 10 years or older, it has made it past the average life expectancy and could be nearing the end of its service life. New systems today can achieve savings upwards of 50% with two-speed compressor and variable speed fan technology. Our comfort consultant will help you define your needs to achieve the comfort level you deserve.
Improve the efficiency of your hot water system
Did you realize that in most homes the hot water heater is the second largest energy user, behind only your heating and cooling systems? There are ways you can cut your monthly costs:
- Set the temperature of your water heater to warm (120°F)
- Insulate your hot water lines so they don’t cool off as quickly
- Use a water heater blanket to insulate the tank
- Use low-flow fixtures for showers and baths
Energy standards on tank-style water heaters were raised in 2001, but it was probably not enough to justify throwing out an existing water heater that is working well.
Armstrong also offers the newer tankless water heaters that heat water only when you need it. You can enjoy more than 40% energy savings, and a typical lifespan of 20 years, with a Rinnai Tankless Water Heater. You also never run out of hot water and gain additional space in your heating closet.
Proper sizing and sealing of the air ducting system
- Insulate ducts in attics & crawl spaces
- Balance ducts for proper airflow to all rooms
- Seal ducts with mastic, metal tape, or spray-on sealant
Install high-efficiency filtration
- Good indoor air quality makes your home more comfortable
- Air purifiers and upgraded filters remove allergens and other contaminants
- Whole-house humidifiers increase comfort and reduce spread of many viruses
Install a programmable thermostat
- Ideal for families away from home for work or school
- Proper use can save up to $180 a year
- Improve comfort level in the house
Tune up your heating and cooling equipment annually
Armstrong will maintain your equipment to prevent future problems and unexpected repair costs. Tune-ups and inspections will keep your cooling and heating systems operating at peak performance. Our service technicians can direct you to the appropriate service plan that best fits your heating and cooling system.