This is a great time to make a New Year’s resolution to become more energy efficient. The recent temperature dip has everyone sweating their energy bills, but there are ways to manage the rising energy costs in your home without having to live like you’re out in the cold. Cut Your Energy Costs Day is an opportunity to take a closer look at your home, and find ways of reducing the amount of energy you’re using. Looking beyond the winter months, this is your chance to address the year ahead and find out how to make your energy bills more affordable all year long.
The first and best way to celebrate Cut Your Energy Costs Day is to get a FREE energy assessment of your entire home. There are a lot of things to consider that may slip under your radar, but our friendly energy experts can tell you exactly what you need to make your home energy efficient. This can include attic insulation, duct sealing and many other possible measures to increase your monthly savings. They can also let you know if you qualify for incentives to cover the work needed.
The biggest source of wasted energy in your home is heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. If you don’t already have one, consider getting a FREE programmable or smart thermostat. It’s so easy to turn on the heat in the house and forget to turn it off when you go to bed or leave your home, wasting precious energy to heat unused space. A programmable thermostat will let you set times and days that the temperature will be adjusted, resulting in big savings throughout the year without any effort on your part.
Finally, one of the easiest ways to save energy and money is to replace old, energy-wasting incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs and fixtures. Per the U.S. Department of Energy, lighting accounts for 15 percent of home electric use. Installing LED bulbs can reduce energy usage by up to 75 percent. An LED light will last 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, which means that they pay for themselves in less than a year and will provide even more savings over time.
Being energy efficient may be one of the most successful resolutions customers can make for 2017. At Home Energy Rx, we are happy to help you with any of these projects in your home. Contact us online or give us a call at (501) 414- 8094 and we’ll let you know everything your home needs to save energy and lower your bills throughout the year.
As a busy home energy consultant, I perform home energy assessments on 10 to 15 houses a week. This cross section of homes consist of all shapes, sizes, ages, and construction methods. After the initial client interview to diagnose comfort issues in the home, the question I am often asked is:
Closing a vent to a bedroom or bathroom that you’re not using seems like a sensible way to increase energy efficiency. With the doors and vents shut, no heat should flow into the room, freeing the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) to condition the part of the home you spend the most time.
The answer is counterintuitive, and according to a study done in 2003 by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory closing doors and air vents can increase energy use. When vents are closed, it increases pressure in the ductwork and causes more leakage to unconditioned space if the ductwork is not properly sealed, so more heated or cooled air will be lost in the crawl space or attic. Also, when the doors to the rooms are closed off, this essentially reduces the square feet of the home while the return air is pulling the same amount of cubic feet per minute (CFM); this can cause an increase in negative pressure in the conditioned area and increasing the air infiltration (air leakage) around exterior doors, under baseboards, attic accesses, and so on.
If you want to seal up rooms that you are not using, your best bet is to contact a professional energy auditor to evaluate the duct system, duct leakage, house leakage, HVAC system, insulation values that uses the “Whole House Approach” to offer a comprehensive energy package for the home.
Another energy saving measure is upgrading the old one stage 55-70 percent efficient gas furnaces to 95-98 percent efficient condensing gas furnaces which in some cases are subsidized by utility companies, not to mention the variable speed motors and condensers. Cleaning and servicing the HVAC unit cannot be overstated, do it and save money.
A newer technology for those who want to save money and isolate different zones for separate heating and cooling thresholds would be to consider installing a mini split ductless system. These units have no ductwork and are extremely efficient. They can be mounted in many different configurations and are designed to heat specific rooms or zones as opposed to a whole house. These types of systems are becoming much more popular for additions and retrofits of whole house HVAC systems.
For more information sign up a FREE Home Energy Assessment: http://tinyurl.com/hpltn7b
Guest Writer: Kathy Jackson
Replacing climate control systems is not a question of “if” but “when” for home and business owners, since the lifespan of equipment is usually only 10 to 15 years. Heating and cooling can account for a large portion of utility bills, so HVAC companies that provide solar compatible units and panel installation could help their customers save money and protect the environment. Solar is a profitable service for many HVAC businesses; Statistica predicts that the residential solar PV market in the United States will be worth about $3.7 billion by the end of 2015.
Some businesses have seen substantial growth after adding solar to their services. For example, Halco added solar to their business offerings in 2009 and by late 2014 was projecting that sector would reach $4 million in annual revenues, reported ACHR News. If, as a business owner, you are still considering offering solar to your customers, there are many reasons to think seriously about it.
A report from The Refrigeration School noted that:
In addition, TechRepublic says that 25% of all rooftops are candidates for solar energy installations. That is a substantial amount of potential new business for HVAC company owners to pursue.
Given the prospects for the technology in 2015 and beyond, offering solar could prove profitable for your customers and your business. There is, however, one proviso: what happens with the investment tax credit for solar, which is discussed below, may affect the economics of solar power.
Residential and commercial solar power installation has experienced explosive growth, increasing 1,100 MW each year since 2010, totaling 5,251 MW in February 2014, indicated the Energy Information Administration. Federal and state tax incentives have helped make the technology more affordable for home and business owners.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is making a major push to continue the investment tax credit that supports solar energy installations. Without renewal, the Solar Investment Tax Credit expires in 2016. It provides a 30% tax credit for homeowners and commercial property owners that install solar systems. The SEIA says that the tax credit helped solar installations grow by 1,600% since 2006.
The House of Representative is evaluating a proposal to extend the credit through 2021, reports Bloomberg. Even without it, the solar industry would likely continue to advance, albeit more slowly.
The future of the solar energy industry looks bright, thanks to technological advancements in the materials used to make photovoltaic solar cells:
These developments could make the cost of solar panels much less expensive in the future, which could counteract the impact on the market if the tax credit isn’t renewed. Statistics from the Department of Energy tell us that air conditioning uses about 5% of the total electricity consumed in the United States, costing homeowners $11 billion a year. One superb part of this opportunity for the owners of HVAC companies is the installation and maintenance of solar-powered air conditioners.
The solar energy industry needs to be viable even without the tax credits. The increasing demand for solar installations, combined with the lower costs of the equipment, should make the prospects excellent for HVAC companies working with solar. Renewing the Solar Investment Tax Credit would align with the widespread government initiatives to curb carbon emissions and the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Decreasing equipment costs and tax credits could significantly lower the cost of solar. With or without the tax credit, it’s worth considering adding solar services to your company’s offerings, as switching to clean, sustainable energy sources is the way of the future.
2016 incentives for central Arkansas utility customers have never been this good before. Utility incentives can pay anywhere between 50% and 100% of the total cost to increase your ceiling insulation up to the insulation value of R-38 (the level that is recommended by the Department of Energy for this climate zone and meets 2012 IECC best practices). This means that customers can reduce their utility bills at a fraction of the cost.
Attic insulation is one of the most critical components of residential energy efficiency. Having the proper level of insulation in your attic can not only help reduce your utility bills, but it can also make your home more comfortable. Having the right amount of insulation in your attic can make it easier to heat and cool your home, which reduces the amount of time your air conditioner and furnace need to run in order to hit your thermostat’s setpoint. Reducing your equipment run time not only reduces your bills but reduces the wear and tear on your equipment extending the life of your furnace and air conditioner and saving you even more money in equipment replacement costs.
Home Energy Rx is one of the most experienced insulation contractors in the state and can help you take advantage of this robust incentive to make your home more energy efficient by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Sign up for a Free Home Energy Audit (click here): http://tinyurl.com/hpltn7b
Step 2: If eligible, then one of our home energy professionals will perform a Free Home Energy Audit and provide a proposal showing incentives for attic insulation.
Step 3: Schedule a time for our retrofit crew to install the insulation, and Home Energy Rx will file for the incentives on your behalf in lieu of payment and collect any remaining balance.
Even if you have had another company perform a Home Energy Audit on your home, Home Energy Rx can still provide a bid for insulation that includes these new utility incentives. Give us a call to schedule a time to come by and provide you with a free bid: (800) 585-8888.
Attic knee walls are not usually even noticed…that is, until the homeowner experiences a great deal of discomfort in any rooms with knee walls. While they can be called by a number of different names, what we mean by an attic knee wall is any wall that separates the living area from attic space.
If the other side of that wall you’re looking at is in the attic, then it’s a knee wall. If it’s outside, or in the garage, or in another conditioned room, then it’s not a knee wall. They can indeed be as short as knee-high, or as high as the other walls in the room, or even higher than them, so long as the other side is in the attic.
Because of this great variation in what a knee wall can actually be, it is especially critical to examine these walls before drywall goes up. Knee walls can be problematic in Bonus Rooms, and can be better-performing with properly-vented attics, both facts testifying to how important it is to look at the house as a whole system.
There are a number of factors we look for to ensure long-term comfort for the homeowners, but we’re particularly interested in the wall penetrations, the floor joists, and the attic spaces behind them. Penetrations into the knee wall can include heating and air ducts, plumbing, wiring (electric, security, internet, etc.), vacuum systems, or access panels/doors. It is important to ensure all these penetrations are properly air sealed, whether they are through the wall itself or the top or bottom plates of the wall.
Floor joists can be an issue if they run from the attic space under the floor of the room with the knee wall. Such joists can allow the extremely hot or cold attic temperatures into those floor cavities under the room and thereby make that room overly cold or hot. This will in turn make the heater or AC work harder to use more energy, and cause discomfort.
Attic spaces behind the knee wall are hidden away from day-to-day vision, but can have dramatic impacts on how comfortable one feels on the other side. First, the knee wall must have ‘backing’ on it; meaning, the wall should have a front with drywall facing the room, and backing that faces the attic. This backing can be foam board, drywall, plywood, OSB, or other solid material that stops air flow. However, no matter what, in this area of the country, do not use plastic or other similar vapor barrier.
For attic spaces, we also want to ensure there is proper attic ventilation, which can be especially critical for the summer months in reducing AC costs. Also, if there is a door or hatch through the knee wall, then it needs to be properly insulated and air sealed from the attic side, as well as latched for a tight-fitting close. We offer training to the contractor and relevant sub-trades to help ensure an air-tight knee wall, so contact us today, before the drywall goes up.
We offer training to the contractor and relevant sub-trades to help ensure an air-tight knee wall, so contact us today, before the drywall goes up.