The right home energy upgrades can enhance comfort and lower energy bills. Energy upgrades may include installing new HVAC equipment, using current systems for maximum savings or simply tightening up your home with sealing and insulation materials. If you want real results from your energy-saving efforts, keep reading to see what energy upgrades make the best sense for your Hampton area home.
Programmable thermostats are modest home energy upgrades that you may install yourself. The benefit of a programmable thermostat is that it automatically changes household temperature between comfort settings and energy-saving settings so you don’t have to remember to do it. Programmable thermostats also promote consistent temperature settings, which is important for lowering the monthly cooling and heating bills.
Programmable thermostats are available in many designs with features that help drive HVAC efficiency. Basic programmable models include alerts for when it’s time to change the filter or if the system malfunctions. More advanced programmable thermostats are WiFi-enabled, giving you remote access to monitor or make changes to programming.
Weatherize Your Hampton Home
Weatherizing your home keeps conditioned air inside, the elements out and more money in your pocketbook through lower energy bills. Weatherization also decreases the heating and cooling load placed on HVAC systems, which means less wear and tear, repairs and potentially a longer life span. Those are nice benefits for a little bit of caulk and weatherstripping.
Following are common areas for air leaks in the home, and basic sealing practices:
- Windows: Use a thin line of caulk to air seal window frames inside and outside the home. Foam weatherstripping seals to the of window sash, and plastic tension v-strips work great to seal double-hung windows.
- Doors: If the entry doors need weatherstripping, use tubular silicone or rubber types. Door sweeps work great to stop drafts beneath the door.
- Attic: Air seal the attic entry door with foam weatherstripping. Check other areas in the attic for air leaks, such as around piping, wiring and recessed lighting.
- Wall plates: Wall switch and electrical plates may be allowing air infiltration. Remove all plates and install foam gaskets. While the plates are removed, check for wall insulation.
Insulation prevents heat gain/loss like a nice blanket for the home. The nature of heat energy is to move from a warmer place to a cooler place, which works against the homeowner’s energy-saving efforts in all seasons. During the heating months, heated household air will transfer through walls and ceilings if insulation isn’t adequate. During the cooling months, warm outside air seeks entry into the home.
Check the insulation in the attic. Is it 12 inches or more? The federal Energy Star program suggests attic insulation levels as high as R-60 for the Hampton Roads area. That’s approximately 15 to 19 inches of insulation, depending on the quality and type. Exterior walls should be insulated between R-15 and R-21 for home energy upgrades.
For an accurate assessment of the quality of your home’s insulation, your HVAC contractor may perform an energy audit using a thermographic scan, which detects areas of heat gain/loss.
HVAC System and Appliance Upgrades
If your HVAC systems are more than 10 years old, it may be wise to upgrade them to modern high-efficiency systems. High-efficiency furnaces, A/Cs and heat pumps deliver premium comfort for less energy than older models. Features like variable-speed blower motors, sealed combustion and scroll compressors offer smooth and quiet airflow and more efficient and safer cooling and heating.
Kitchen appliances, washing machines, clothes dryers and water heaters use a substantial amount of energy in the home. When it’s time to remodel or upgrade appliances, look for the blue Energy Star logo. Energy Star-certified products deliver substantially greater efficiency and offer better features than lesser efficient models in their classes. Ask your HVAC contractor for a lifetime cost analysis of competing systems for an accurate comparison.
Check the Water Heater
Water heating accounts for up to 20 percent of the energy budget in the average home. That makes sense considering a storage water heater is essentially always on, heating and reheating water. However, there are practical ways to reduce the hot water bill. Test the temperature at the most distant hot water outlet. If it’s more than 120 degrees, turn back the thermostat on the water heater. Excessively hot water can cause scalding and deteriorate the water heater faster.
Learn more about home energy upgrades available through Kearney & Sons Heating & Air Conditioning or contact us today at 757-269-9589 to schedule an appointment.