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Energy Efficiency Is Best Attained Through a Whole-House

It's important to remember that each energy system in your home – insulation, heating and cooling, windows, etc. – is working as part of a whole to achieve entire-house energy efficiency. For example, an aging duct system will prevent your heating and cooling systems from reaching their energy-efficient potentials. Likewise, inadequate insulation allows heat loss or gain, compromising your HVAC system's ability to provide desired indoor comfort. The best way to optimize energy efficiency in your home is to take a whole-house approach.

A whole-house approach to energy efficiency ensures that all of your systems are working together, minimizing the amount of fuel or electricity required to maintain indoor comfort and air quality, as well as to reduce lifetime utility and repair costs. The following can serve as a guide as you work system by system to gain maximum energy savings in your West Texas home:

6 Steps to Achieving Whole-House Energy Efficiency

  1. Seal Air Leaks. Any leaks, holes, or gaps in your exterior walls allow heat to infiltrate your home during the warmer months (heat gain) and provide a means for warm air to escape during the winter months (heat loss). This makes your HVAC system works significantly harder to keep your home at its desired thermostat settings. Air sealing is the first line of defense. Use caulking to seal any visible gaps in your exterior walls. Look carefully in the areas where your siding meets the foundation and roof line. Caulk around window and door frames, exterior vents, or any holes and penetrations caused by plumbing or electrical lines. Also inspect the chimney and/or flues. Then evaluate the weatherstripping around your doors and windows. Replace any that seems worn, corroded, or that no longer forms a tight seal. In addition to improving comfort and energy efficiency, it will help to mitigate sound pollution from outside. 
  2. Upgrade your HVAC System. If your heating and cooling systems are 15 years old or more, begin speaking with a licensed HVAC technician about your replacement options. A new, energy-efficient replacement will pay for itself in terms of energy savings. You also will benefit from improved indoor air quality. It's imperative that your contractor uses accurate load calculations in order to size the system correctly for your home. Remember that your heating and cooling systems are only as efficient as the duct system that circulates the air. Aging, poorly designed, leaky, and/or uninsulated ducts lead to significant energy waste. Have them inspected and make the necessary repairs or upgrades to get them in efficient working order.  
  3. HVAC maintenance. Once your energy efficient HVAC system is up and running, make sure that it's maintained as per manufacturer's instructions. This includes bi-annual inspections and maintenance appointments, as well as DIY tasks such as changing the air filters and keeping the condenser coils clean. Consider signing a maintenance agreement with a reputable HVAC contractor in your area so you never miss an appointment. These appointments are critical for protecting manufacturer warranties.
  4. Insulation. In addition to air sealing, insulation is another defense against undesirable heat transfer. Inspect the insulation in your home and verify that the R-values meet current energy-efficiency standards. If not, create a plan to upgrade it. Start with your attic, basement and crawl spaces. Consider that attic temperatures can get as high as 140 degrees or more during the summer months. The basement is a large source of heat loss during the winter months. Replacing or augmenting the insulation in these areas will garner the best return on your investment. Then upgrade exterior wall insulation to enjoy enhanced whole-house energy efficiency. 
  5. Windows. If you have old windows and can afford to replace them, begin replacing inefficient windows with double-pane, low-e alternatives. If that isn't an option, that's okay. The most important thing is to seal leaks and provide adequate shading. Add awnings or tall landscaping to south- and west-facing windows to mitigate summertime heat gain. Consider planting deciduous trees so those same windows can benefit from heat gain during the winter months. Use overhangs, awnings and/or insulated window coverings that also will help to provide shading during the West Texas hot season.  
  6. Lighting and appliances. Make sure each new or replacement appliance you purchase has the Energy Star logo, signifying it exceeds current energy-efficiency standards. Replace your light bulbs with CFLs for immediate and noticeable energy savings.

Ready to take a whole-house energy efficiency approach in your West Texas home? Visit texasaircomfort.com to find a licensed contractor near you.

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