Work Toward an Energy-Efficient Home From a Whole-House Systems Approach

October 6, 2013
Ross and Witmer

When you’re considering ways to boost your home’s energy efficiency, you might think in terms of one project at a time. And that’s fine. But while you’re undertaking each project, take look at the big picture. That big picture is your whole house. Believe it or not, an improvement to one system in your home has an effect on the others. New energy-efficient windows, for example, help a furnace do its job. This is called the whole-house systems approach to energy efficiency.

How do you shift from the one-project-at-a-time approach to the whole-house approach? Actually, you don’t have to make a shift, as each project contributes to the whole. Let’s take a look.

  1. Sealing doors, windows and gaps: Air sealing is a good beginning. Sealing gaps around windows, doors, electrical outlets and other spots helps to keep heated air where it’s supposed to be–inside your home. This eases the load on your furnace. In addition, if you air seal before you insulate, your insulation will last longer and you’ll minimize the risk of moisture damage.
  2. Checking the ductwork: Inspecting the ductwork for leaks, blockages and damage also helps your furnace do its job.
  3. Adding insulation: Insulation can increase your home’s energy efficiency in both the summer and the winter. Attic insulation in particular has a handsome return on investment.
  4. Cover the windows: Seek out shade–from trees, awnings or window treatments to minimize thermal heat gain in the summer. Landscaping with deciduous trees allows you take advantage of the sun in the winter. Solar shades and specially lined curtains are available at many retailers.
  5. Use efficient lighting and appliances. Compact fluorescent bulbs will save you energy and money, as they last longer than their traditional counterparts. They emit less heat, so in the summer they can help you keep your cooling bills in line. The Energy Star program rates a variety of appliances, so it’s easy to select energy efficient models.
  6. HVAC replacement and maintenance: Replacing your HVAC system can significantly affect your home’s energy efficiency. But you new system will realize its full potential only if you have taken other measures to keep your home as airtight as possible. Once you have the system in place, keep up with maintenance. A good way to ensure this is by having a maintenance agreement with a trusted HVAC provider.

Ready to take on the whole house approach? Contact Ross & Witmer. We can get you started. We serve homeowners throughout Charlotte.

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