Improving the energy efficiency of your home requires you to take a whole-house systems approach. By carefully reviewing everything from the insulation to the furnace, and the windows to the air conditioner, it is possible to ensure that each of the elements in your home are interacting and functioning as part of an energy efficient structure.
When they are, you can rest assured that your home’s energy envelope is being protected from every angle. This will not only save you money, but it will help conserve precious natural resources throughout the year. Here are the things you need to take a look at and the factors you should consider during your inspection:
- Start your whole-house systems approach by looking at the mechanical components — your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems being the most crucial mechanical components in the home. Inspect your air conditioner, furnace and duct systems to ensure that they are functioning properly and free of malfunctions and defects. Additionally, make sure that your mechanical systems are properly sized for your home. If they are not, you are probably wasting your energy dollars throughout the year.
- After you have inspected the mechanical components, you will want to make sure your home is airtight. Otherwise, your energy dollars will be blowing in the wind. To inspect your home for air leaks, you will need to explore every nook and cranny from the basement to the attic. Pay careful attention to areas where pipes, fixtures, wires, and other elements enter the home. These are prone to separating from the structure which can create gaps through which air can seep in and out of the home. Fill any gaps you discover with either caulk or weatherstripping.
- Inspect your insulation. Over time, insulation can shift, become compacted, or simply separate from the wall. When this happens it decreases its overall effectiveness. This leaves your home vulnerable to both heat gain in summer and heat loss in the winter. Fortunately, correcting insulation deficiencies is a straightforward process that doesn’t take long to accomplish.
- Don’t forget the windows. Older windows and windows that are damaged do not adequately protect your home from the weather outside. While new windows are a considerable investment, they will go far toward improving the energy efficiency of your home. Furthermore, make sure your windows are properly shaded by blinds, curtains, and outside elements such as awnings and foliage. These elements will work together to insulate your window openings and prevent solar radiation from penetrating into the home and overheating it in summer.
- Check your lighting. Traditional incandescent bulbs consume a tremendous amount of energy. In fact, they generate more heat than they do light. Conversely, compact fluorescent bulbs are much more energy efficient. While compact fluorescents cost a little more, they considerably reduce your home’s overall energy consumption. Often, they pay for themselves within about a year, which makes them a wise investment.
- Pay attention to your appliances and upgrade as necessary. Quite frankly, thank goodness they don’t make them like they used to. Modern energy efficient appliances will not only make your home look more up-to-date, they will reduce your electric and gas bill significantly. This is especially true in regards to your refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and water heater. While appliances are an expensive upgrade, they will boost your home’s value while reducing your energy usage each month.
In the end, there are many variables that will impact the overall energy efficiency of a structure. By taking a whole-house systems approach, you can influence most of them. While Mother Nature will always control the outside climate and site conditions, the construction, maintenance and upgrading of your home is entirely up to you.
At Griffith Energy Services, Inc., we understand the needs of homeowners throughout the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore metro areas. With more than 100 years of combined experience, we make sure our clients from Baltimore to Manassas, and Hagerstown to Martinsburg get the very best service possible. Give us a call at 888-474-3391 and we will be happy to discuss our approach to energy efficiency and how we can help you conduct a whole-house systems survey.
Written by Kevin Spain