According to the U.S Department of Energy, the typical U.S. family spends about $1,900 a year on home utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is wasted; and each year, electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than two average cars. With the help of the award-winning energy-efficiency experts at Renu Building & Solutions, the good news is that there is a lot you can do to save energy and money at home.
The key to achieving these savings in your home is a whole-house, energy-efficiency plan. Renu Building & Energy Solutions begins every project from a whole-house, integrated-systems approach where your home is initially viewed as a single entity consisting of several interdependent components or systems. For example, one home’s heating system is not just a furnace – it’s a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout the home using a network of ducts. Even a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient furnace will waste a lot of fuel if the ducts, walls, attic, windows, and doors are not properly sealed and insulated. Taking a whole-house, integrated-systems approach with Renu Building & Energy Solutions helps ensure that any dollars you invest to save energy are spent wisely.
Energy-efficient improvements not only make your home more comfortable, they can yield long-term financial rewards as well. In addition to reducing your monthly utility bills and helping provide increased energy independence as energy prices increase, energy-efficient improvements often bring a higher selling price should you ever decide to sell your home.
- A. Sealing Air Leaks & Adding Insulation
- B. Improving Heating & Cooling Systems
- C. Sealing Ductwork
- D. Replacing Doors & Windows
- E. Upgrading Lighting, Appliances, & Water Heating Equipment
- F. Installing Renewable Energy Systems
With regard to energy-efficiency, indoor air quality, and homeowner comfort, perhaps the most critical system of the home is its building envelope, which is generally defined as the separation between the interior and the exterior environments of the home. It serves as the outer shell to protect the indoor environment as well as to facilitate the home’s climate control and overall comfort. In general, the more surface area of the exterior shell, the greater potential for energy loss. In addition to the home’s structural integrity, improvements executed in the building envelope focus on three primary performance objectives:
- Control of air pressure boundaries through air sealing measures
- Temperature control through increased thermal resistance, or insulation
- Moisture management through proper placement of drainage planes and moisture retarders.
Windows | Doors
Based on the age and condition of your home, it may be advisable to consider installing new windows and doors to help you save up to 25 percent on your utility bills. In newer homes with double-pane windows, the return on investment usually yields a longer payback. Conversely, in older homes with single-pane windows, the payback can immediately make financial sense for many homeowners. It is important to note with regard to windows and doors there are many other factors to consider below:
- Rooms are too drafty leaving your home chilly and dry in the winter and warm and humid in the summer
- Solar heat gain through window and door openings are unbearable throughout the hot summer
- Fading and discoloring of in-home valuables (furniture, drapes, paintings, photographs, wood floors) is frustrating
- Window and door operation is difficult
- There are condensation issues
- General maintenance (cleaning, painting, and scraping) is exhausting
- Storm windows are frustrating to sustain
- Many of your windows and doors are generally beyond repair due to rotting and age
There are two common options to consider when replacing existing windows and doors. The first is to install energy-efficient replacement windows where we would simply remove the old window sashes and install a new window insert into the existing frames. The second, slightly more labor-intensive option is to tear out the entire old window unit, and reinstall new energy-efficient windows very similar to what is executed in new construction. If you’re at all considering a fresh curb-appeal, whole-house energy retrofit project, this option would be the recommended choice since we would have access to all of the openings from the outside of your home.
According to Energy Star, as much as half of the energy consumed in your home goes to heating and cooling. Coupled with sealing up and better insulating your building envelope, Renu Building & Energy Solutions can help improve your entire HVAC system helping to bring increased savings, comfort, and improved indoor air quality to your home. Some of the measures where we can help are listed below:
- New, more energy-efficient units (furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, and heat pumps)
- Appropriately-sized units optimized for the heating/cooling loads of your home
- Improved duct sealing where possible
- Addition of better zone control throughout your home
- After your home is tight, an energy recovery ventilator (ERV) may be necessary to bring fresh air into your home
- Whole-house air cleaner to properly clean the air you breathe
Whether your home has an outdated electrical service, inefficient appliances, or traditional incandescent lighting, Renu Building & Energy Solutions can help deliver energy-saving alternatives for your home. Energy Star estimates that about 20 percent of a typical home’s energy use is consumed by lighting. While it is quite common for homeowners to replace their inefficient bulbs with more energy-efficient lamps such as compact fluorescents, it is becoming more universal for homeowners to consider replacing entire light fixtures. With the onset of LEDs (light emitting diodes), there are more options than ever to consider when upgrading your home’s lighting. Renu can also help you understand what to look for when purchasing lamps such as wattage, color temperature, and color rendering index.
By upgrading your old, inefficient appliances, you can expect to save as much as 50 percent energy and water compared to your outdated units. When undertaking remodeling projects and energy improvements, it is wise to consider the many benefits Energy Star qualified products offer such as refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, and clothes washers.
Behind heating and cooling, the second largest expenditure on your energy bills tends to be spent on heating water. As a result, significant savings can be made when replacing your existing water heater. While there are several options to consider, tankless, on-demand water heaters tend to be one of the most energy-efficient choices you can make. If you want to save even more energy and have ample solar exposure, then you might want to consider installing a solar thermal (hot water) system from Renu Building & Energy Solutions.
As water becomes an increasingly important resource, there is speculation that, like energy, its cost will increase as well. Other energy and water-saving options to consider are dual-flush toilets, low-flow faucets and showerheads, and advanced irrigation systems. By limiting the amount of wasted water throughout the home, you can not only save money, but you can also help protect our environment.
People are increasingly concerned about mold, radon, carbon monoxide, and toxic chemicals commonly found in homes. In fact, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies show that levels of air pollution inside the home are often two to five times higher than outdoor levels. And poor indoor air quality is associated with a host of health problems, including eye irritation, headaches, allergies, and respiratory problems such as asthma.
Exposure to radon, a naturally occurring radioactive, invisible, and odorless gas, is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Since much of eastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley are consider high-risk radon areas by the EPA, Renu Building & Energy Solutions can test for radon and implement radon mitigation strategies should your results prove to be greater than the EPA-approved levels.
Another important consideration when making improvements to your home is to choose products and finishes with very low- to no- VOC content. VOCs (volatile organic compounds) include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects, with concentrations consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products numbering in the thousands ranging from paints and stains to carpets and many building materials.
Building Performance Institue