Become more energy efficient at home
Ways to be more energy efficient at home:
Reduce the home's infiltration rate: Depending on your climate zone it might be possible that 50 percent of your utility bill goes into paying for heating or cooling your home. The most effective way to get most "bang for your buck" is to reduce the amount of air leakage in your homes. To accomplish this you need to:
HVAC duct leakage: Get a bucket of mastic out, and go to the attic and crawlspace and trace down the areas of where the duct is letting air out. I recommend starting at the supply and return plenums and how the attached to the air handler/blower. Then check the take-off from the supply, and inspected the run of duct for disconnected ducts. Pay special attention to long runs where it's possible that two ducts where joint together. Anywhere you feel air coming out, plug it... This way you keep the air where it needs to be, in your house not the attic/crawlspace
Building envelope: Most of the air leakage and heat loss occurs through the ceiling. If your attic is not decked out, you are in luck. From the attic side, start sealing with caulk or foam any penetration through the ceiling suck as HVAC boots, ceiling lights, wires, etc. Also, caulk where the drywall meets the top plate or where you see a joint. Then do this on the exterior walls of your home and caulk all penetrations through that wall such as electrical outlets. Last, get in the crawlspace and do the same thing.
Add insulation: Only when you have air seal your home, I will suggest you add insulation if you think you are below code. Depending on your Energy Code, you will need R-30 or R-38 in your ceiling. Pull the type and measure the thickness of insulation to determine R-value or read the stamp on the fiberglass batt. Supplement as needed.
Lighting: You can bit the bullet and replace all your screw in incandescent light bulbs with CFL, or if you're a feeling good you can go with LED lights. Another strategy is to replace them by areas of maximum usage to less. This will be more sensitive to your budget.
Water heater & HVAC system: Once you have exhausted the other two recommendations, check your mechanical components. If they are out dated you will benefit from replacing the units. If not, leave them alone until you have a good reason for replacement. Today's water heater and HVAC system have a high efficiency rating.
Appliances: Expensive choice but if you are due for an upgrade opt for Energy Star rated.
In summary, use common sense when performing these improvements. However, I strongly recommend that you hire a certified energy rater to perform an energy audit of your home before embarking in any energy improvement activities. These professionals are trained to identify life safety issues that might be present in your house that could be amplified if a home gets tighter.
Luis Imery Luis Imery, through his business the Imery Group, is a full service construction, home energy performance, green certification and real estate group specializing in infusing sustainability in every facet of the real estate cycle. Its construction division has become pioneers in the Athens, GA area in green building of speculative, custom and design-built construction. Just in 2011 they have over 110 units slated for green certification under the EarthCraft program. www