Energy Efficiency 101
Way too often, we as consumers are tricked into buying band-aid solutions for our energy efficiency problems. We are told to buy more energy efficient windows/door and more efficient appliances. We are encouraged to buy a more efficient HVAC system or maybe a more efficient water heater. While all of these things are good for your electric bill, somehow when we look at the cost to obtain these items, it doesn’t make much financial sense. Time and time again we hear customers say they have the best HVAC system money could buy, yet their electric bill continues to rise.
After being in business for over 15 years and having completed over 3400 sealed crawl spaces in existing homes, we have learned there are four things that can be done to truly improve energy efficiency in an existing home. These improvements should be done in this order.
1) Seal or encapsulate your crawl space
2) Seal or improve the insulation in your attic
3) Replace an inefficient HVAC system
4) Replace or Repair windows and doors when needed
The first step should always be a sealed crawl space. This will stop the moisture, mold, insects, etc.. from getting inside the building envelope. This, by itself, should gain you 10-15% in energy efficiency. The greater benefit other than energy efficiency is the cleanliness factor. A controlled house is a clean house.
It always then makes sense to stop the good conditioned air from leaving the home through the Attic. Either improve or add to the insulation or completely seal the Attic roof with spray foam insulation.
Old, inefficient HVAC systems or old drafty windows certainly cause issues and should be replaced. But, only after the building has been made leak free and is properly insulated. The most expensive HVAC system on the market today can never be efficient if the building it is heating or cooling has all of its windows open.
So, in order to have a healthy efficient home, we must start with sealing and insulating. This focuses on the source of the problem, not just a new gadget to battle the side effects of an unhealthy home.