Home Energy Efficiency Basics
How To Get An Energy-Smarter Home
We can get an energy-smarter home by…
– adding more insulation (insulation is critical);
– upgrading or improving their windows and doors;
– sealing air leaks and duct systems;
– getting summer shade;
– improving heating and cooling equipment and lighting efficiency;
– installing solar water heating systems, etc.
Insulation And Sealing
A good insulation involving the attic, walls, the floor and the basement and crawl spaces is mandatory to get an energy-efficient home. Insulation is – either in cold, hot or moderate climates – the most important element to get lower energy bills.
Sealing air leakage paths can also be a major home improvement. Air leakage associated with windows and doors, and mainly with the attic and crawl spaces, is very common, and fixing it is cheap and may provide significant energy savings.
Energy Efficiency Appliances
There is no energy-efficient home without energy-efficient appliances. New clothes washers and dryers, air conditioners, refrigerators, fireplaces… all have much higher energy performances. Old appliances are very inefficient, and since such appliances are responsible for around 20% of the average residential energy bills, replacing old units with new ones will significantly lower the energy consumption… Just prefer high rated Energy Star, UL and other qualified appliances.
When building a new home, do not locate it on environmentally sensitive sites and landscapes. Whenever possible locate it at a walking distance of public transportation, schools, stores and services. That will minimize the use of private transportation, which will be better economically and environmentally, and healthier to you and to your family.
A large home requires more heating, air conditioning and lighting. If you want a sustainable home, avoid a large one. Prefer a small or relatively small sized home.
Orientation And Passive Solar Techniques
A basic and major principle of an energy efficient building is to capture the sun’s heat in the winter and avoid it in the summer. To achieve this goal we should take into account its path and its angle in each season…
If you live in the north hemisphere, the indoor living and entertaining areas should face the south side of the home whenever possible (if you live in the south hemisphere they should face the north side).
Use trees and their shade strategically. Shading and landscaping concepts involve gardens, lawns, deciduous trees, vines or shrubs adequately placed. Or elements as shaded paving and courtyards… These elements are often overlooked, but they are extremely important to the energy-efficiency of any home.
Yards should be built with native drought-tolerant plants. Prefer them to grass and plants demanding regular watering.
Natural daylight should reach most of the home’s interior, and to attain it the home should be oriented properly, not only to bring natural light into the hose but also heating or cooling when necessary.
Windows can act as daylight gateways, solar collectors (trapping the heat) or as ventilators (during summer). But to accomplish that they should be qualified windows, rightly placed and sized.
Windows, skylights and light shelves are important to bring daylight into the home’s interior. In many climates, shading devices are also crucial: trees, but also canopies or sunshades. Trees are crucial to block the summer heat.
Windows, skylights and exterior doors should be qualified ones. Most traditional windows, skylights and doors are inefficient and a cause of undesired heat losses (in winter) or gains (in summer).
Natural Ventilation And Mechanical Ventilation
When building a new home, use its exposure, windows, fans and other simple strategies to get croos and natural ventilation. Doors and windows should be properly positioned to achieve cross ventilation when needed, while air leaks, draughts or ducts should be sealed or insulated to avoid unwanted heat or cool air.
Mechanical ventilation systems (HVAC: heating, ventilation and air conditioning) may have a rather marginal role in some temperate and hot climates – filtering the incoming air or venting the stale air in extreme or specific situations. But they are a key and indispensable element in most climates.
Highly insulated homes demand mechanical ventilation systems, which can be cheap and extremely advantageous solutions, providing healthy indoor air and reduced energy bills.
If your cooling bills are reasonable or high, do not choose dark colors for your roof. Light-colors are much better.
Energy-Efficient Building Materials
Pay attention to building materials, when building or remodeling. There are many unhealthy and environmentally-unfriendly materials: vinyl, high-VOC (volatile organic compound) sealants and paints, non-managed and non-sustained wood products (mainly tropical hardwoods, non-certified by the Forest Stewardship Council).
Pay also attention to the thermal mass of products as brick, stone, concrete or rammed earth: they heat up and cool down slowly (they have a high thermal mass). And to materials with low thermal mass, such as weatherboard and fiber cement. In some cases, materials should be chosen taking into account those properties. Or better: when building an energy efficient home do not forget the thermal mass issue.
Renewable Energy Use
An energy efficient home can generate part or most of its own energy. The use of solar energy, geothermal heat pumps and other renewable energy options aren’t only an environmentally-friendly solution. They allow huge energy savings.
You can find all you need to make your home energy efficient right here Dropyourenergybills.com