Treating your home as an interconnected energy system allows you to take effective steps to improve its overall efficiency. You should consider six main items when striving for a whole-house efficiency plan:
- Air sealing – Holes, cracks and gaps can develop in many areas on the outside perimeter of your home, but especially at windows and doors, places where utility lines or pipes protrude through the walls, and areas where the foundation meets your home’s walls. Do a visual inspection of the outside of your home, and seal any leaks you find with weatherstripping, caulk or spray foam, depending on the type of leak. You can also search for air leaks from inside your home by patrolling the inside walls with a lighted incense stick. Look for places where the smoke wavers on a windy day, and you’ll find your air leaks.
- Ductwork – Gaps or disconnections in your ducts will cause air to leak as well. Fixing these will cut the load on your HVAC system, which has to work harder when conditioned air is escaping from your ducts. You’ll also improve indoor air quality when dirty air isn’t accessing your ducts as they run through unconditioned areas such as the crawlspace, basement and attic.
- Insulation – Proper insulation, especially in the attic, can help your HVAC system work more efficiently for you. When your insulation is sufficient for your home and the Portland area climate, less heat energy will escape to the outside in the winter, and less heat will infiltrate your living spaces in the summer.
- Windows – When you’re sealing air leaks around your home, you might find that you need window replacements. Many options are available that will help achieve a whole-house systems approach to energy efficiency, including Energy Star rated double-pane and/or low-E windows.
- HVAC – If your heating and cooling systems are old and inefficient, consider upgrading to newer models. Since an upgrade isn’t always necessary or affordable, you can instead set up a maintenance regimen to make sure that your HVAC system is in peak condition.
- Lighting and appliances – Check your appliances, light bulbs or anything else that may have a more efficient alternative available. Large and small appliances both have an effect on your home’s energy efficiency. Look for the Energy Star any time you’re upgrading anything from a simple light bulb to the furnace that provides heat for your home.
Determining where you can make the necessary changes on your own can often be a difficult task. Sometimes you need help achieving that whole-house systems approach to energy efficiency. If you would like to talk to professionals about your Portland area home’s energy-efficiency, please contact us at (503) 266-1249.