Going Green: Making Your Home Energy Efficient
Making smart transportation choices to conserve energy are important, but your home is significantly larger than any car and it runs 24/7 instead of the hour or so you spend driving each day. Improving your home’s energy use can exert a huge impact on your pocketbook, the planet and the future lifestyles of your great grandchildren.
These older homes need updating based on what we know now, while newer homes need to be adjusted for greater energy conservation. Either way, improvements in energy use at home must be made with a long-term perspective.
Reduce the size of your living space. Consider subdividing larger houses to accommodate multiple households, grow your household to fill the space you have, or just close off rooms you rarely use.
Insulate, insulate, insulate! For older houses, insulate from the inside. On newer houses, you can insulate from the outside. To maximize the insulation’s effectiveness, consistently apply it throughout the house. For example, a well-insulated wall is virtually useless next to an open window. Use foam board insulating sheathing instead of, or apply it on top of, the structural OSB or plywood. It works for both insulation and moisture/condensation control.
Ensure that your home is airtight. Install quality windows (low emissivity coated, double or triple glazed with argon fill gas). Your building supply store should clearly label these. Whenever possible, reduce the size of your windows; they can represent a huge source of air loss.
Landscape. It’s easy to predict the location of the sun throughout the day during each season. In tropical climates, plant trees to shade your home during the hottest hours of the day. If your winter climate is especially cold, choose deciduous trees (those that lose their leaves). They will protect your home from the summer sun, but will let the sun warm your place come winter.
Install energy-efficient appliances including water heater, furnace and air conditioner when necessary. Look for an energy-efficient label at the store. Aim for a tankless instantaneous hot water heater (EF=~0.85), a 90% condensing furnace and a 12 to 13 SEER air conditioner. For warmer climates, get a 14 or higher SEER air conditioner instead.
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