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Taking Steps to a More Energy-Efficient Home

energy-efficient homeWhy is there such a big draw to achieve an energy-efficient home these days? The simple fact is an energy-efficient home is a comfortable home with low utility bills. Who wouldn’t want a home with these features?

As you strive to improve energy efficiency at home, consider taking these steps.

Choose a Reputable HVAC Contractor

Not all contractors are created equal. Some have more experience with home energy upgrades than others. When you find a reputable contractor, ask about their experience performing home energy evaluations. The technician who comes to your home should have the proper certification.

Seek a Thorough Home Energy Audit

A home energy evaluation, or energy audit, is when a technician inspects various aspects of your home for energy efficiency problems. This process requires special equipment and training, which is why you want a professional to perform the audit.

One assessment to expect is the blower door test. The technician places a special fan in the front door and with all other windows and doors closed off, the fan depressurizes the home. This makes leaky areas around windows and doors, plumbing fixtures, outlet and light switch plates, sinks and elsewhere more noticeable. The technician spots these leaks using an infrared camera. Cold areas where air leaks occur appear darker on the camera’s display.

Other tools allow also contribute to a thorough assessment, including gas leak detectors, kill-a-watt meters, carbon monoxide detectors and lead-safe testing kits. Ask if you can shadow the auditor to get a feel for the things he’s finding.

Once the audit is complete, it’s time to assess what upgrades are necessary to create an energy-efficient home.

Seal Air Leaks

Use readings from the blower door test to determine where your home is leaking. Sealing air leaks is one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways to improve home efficiency and comfort. Weatherstripping is the most common tool for sealing moveable windows and doors while caulk seals gaps and cracks in stationary joints. These are inexpensive supplies, and you can expect to complete basic air sealing in one afternoon.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat is the key to saving energy without sacrificing comfort. Simply create programs based on your schedule so the temperature automatically drops (or rises) while you’re away or sleeping and resumes a comfortable temperature before you return home or wake up. The resulting energy savings allow the thermostat to pay for itself in about three years.

Heat Water Efficiently

Water heating costs are separate from space heating and cooling, but don’t overlook them when making improvements. Cut your water heating bills with these tips:

  • Use less hot water by installing low-flow faucets and showerheads, and by washing clothes in cold water.
  • Turn down the water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
  • Insulate the water heater to reduce standby heat loss.
  • Performance recommended maintenance on your water heater to help it run more efficiently or replace it with an Energy Star qualified model.

Improve Insulation

Insulation acts as a barrier between your home and the outdoors. The more insulation there is the less energy is required to keep your home at the desired temperature. The attic is the most cost-effective place to add insulation to an existing home, though with special equipment it’s also possible to add blown-in-place cellulose insulation to a finished wall.

Replace Heating and Cooling Equipment

If your existing systems are starting to age, consider replacing them with new, high-efficiency models. The warm climate in Texas causes you to rely more on air conditioning than heating. That means it makes sense to invest in the highest efficiency A/C possible and a mid-range furnace with a lower upfront cost.

Another possibility is to choose a heat pump instead of the conventional furnace/air conditioner combination. A heat pump both heats and cools your home. Incredible heating efficiency of 300 to 400 percent is possible because heat pumps use electricity to move heat instead of generating it from a combustible fuel source. The drawback of heat pumps, which is less efficient operation when the temperature drops below freezing, is a non-issue in Beaumont where the winters are mild.

Enjoy the Results

Your home has unique needs and may benefit from some of these improvements more than others. The trick is to seek a home energy audit from a certified professional who can give you specific cost-saving advice.

For more about achieving the energy-efficient home of your dreams, please contact Thermacon Service Company. We proudly serve Beaumont, Port Arthur and the surrounding areas.

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