The whole-house systems/approach considers the entire house an energy system with parts that perform specific tasks that help the whole system function properly. If one part is lacking in performance, the system’s efficiency will become diminished. For example, your HVAC system will not perform optimally if the ductwork system leaks or the attic insulation is inadequate. The whole–house approach acknowledges the interaction between the different components to achieve energy efficiency and recognizes that a fault in one or more can throw the system off balance. Lower energy cost and comfort are two things that the whole-house system approach can help you achieve.
Importance of Whole-house Systems
A focus on energy efficiency and its actual practice can help you to save money on energy costs and in the process, save natural resources. The fewer kilowatt-hours of electricity you use, the less nonrenewable resources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, are used. This way, you play an indirect role in the broader sustainability, energy efficiency, and green causes while enjoying quality service with fewer energy emissions and inputs. According to a study using current technologies, greenhouse gas emissions linked to home energy use can be cut by 70%.
Where to Start With Whole-house Systems/Approach
With energy efficiency in mind, start by looking at the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, the most critical mechanical component and uses the most energy in a home. Some important steps to take include:
- Air Sealing: The last thing you want is a drafty house that leaks warm and cool air. That’s energy being wasted that causes your furnace and air conditioning units to work hard to replace the lost energy. Air sealing helps to create an energy-efficient home. This can be achieved by sealing cracks and gaps around doors, windows, plumbing, electrical, and venting, essentially controlling air exchange and ventilation.
- Ductwork Maintenance: A loss in energy efficiency in your home could also be due to leaky ductwork that has the potential to dump conditioned air in unwanted places, such as the attic. In other words, your hot or cool air is escaping outdoors, and the opposite gets back in through the air gaps to replace what’s lost. This also amounts to added stress on your HVAC unit. Check your ductwork system for gaps, secure ducts with mechanical fasteners, seal gaps with a mastic sealant, and, insulate ducts to prevent energy losses.
- Insulate: Boost your home’s efficiency by insulating. Focus on your attic first, where the roof temperatures can jump to more than 140°F. The goal should be an attic insulation level of R-30 or above in the southeast. Wall and floor insulation isn’t usually a top priority unless the home has elevated wood floors and crawlspaces that could let in a draft. Insulation enhances the resistance to temperature transfers between indoor and outdoor areas, so don’t neglect insulating where necessary.
- Seal Windows: Improve your windows’ efficiency by using caulking and weather-stripping air sealing. Shading is also helpful and can be achieved by adding exterior shading to block solar radiation from getting into your house, like strategically placed trees, awnings, solar screens, or tinted window film. Interior shading could also have an impact with the use of blinds or drapes to stop heat gain by keeping solar radiation at bay. Consider window replacement if windows are old and opt for Low-E double pane windows.
- Regular HVAC Maintenance
Regular HVAC maintenance is necessary for your home to remain at optimal energy efficiency. When it comes to the health of your HVAC system, you must frequently replace air filters, clean condenser coils, condensate lines, and straighten coil fins. You should have your HVAC system’s yearly maintenance check performed by a qualified HVAC technician, who would perform commissioning, check refrigerant levels and airflow, test for a refrigerant leak, and test the electrical controls. Upgrade to a newer, higher SEER system if your current HVAC system is old.
- Energy-Efficient Lighting and Appliances
High-efficiency lighting and appliances that are properly maintained yearly are energy savers and can help make your home more energy-efficient. In a whole-house system, lighting and appliances may not be the biggest energy saver because of their size, but they overall contribute to whole-house energy savings.
Cape Cod Energy Solutions can be your trusted guide if you have a question regarding whole-house systems/approaches and energy efficiency. Our skilled and knowledgeable staff can provide expert help in home comfort. Contact Cape Cod Energy Solutions today to learn how we can help.