Did you know that in 2021, the United States generated 6.2% more greenhouse gases (GHG) than in 2020? A considerable driver behind that is the increase in GHG emissions from coal use. That spike, in turn, was due to a 17% growth in coal burned for electricity during the year.
If that upward trend continues, everyone can expect the planet to become hotter than it is. The past five years have already been the warmest in centuries, and it can worsen due to global warming.
Building an energy-efficient home is one of the things you can do to help slow down that phenomenon. The more efficient it is, the less energy it uses and the fewer GHG emissions it contributes. As a bonus, reduced energy consumption at home translates to lower utility bills.
Keep reading this guide on the top energy-efficiency updates you can make to help you get started.
1. Invest in Insulation
Many components of your home, such as those made of metal and stone, are excellent heat conductors. That means they transfer thermal energy from outdoor sources into your house. For instance, a roof’s metal parts conduct heat, after which it moves about in your abode.
Convection is another way thermal energy transfers to your home. It’s the process wherein heat circulates through gases and liquids. An example is how warm air rises whereas colder, denser air sinks.
The same heat transfer methods are behind heat losses during winter and heat gains in the summer.
During winter, your heating system has to produce more heat to replace the lost heat. Once summer comes, your air conditioner works harder to cool the air because of the gained heat. That results in your HVAC system consuming more energy to keep your home comfortable.
Proper, well-installed insulation can help decrease heat transfer methods. It provides an effective heat flow resistance, minimizing heats gains and losses. That results in your HVAC system having less work to do, helping it consume less energy.
Start by insulating your attic, exterior walls, and floors above unconditioned spaces. These are the areas where most heat gains and losses occur.
2. Block Leaks With Sealants and Weatherstripping
Air infiltration and leakage can waste up to 30% of your abode’s heating and cooling energy. That makes air leak repairs some of the best techniques to boost home energy efficiency. Besides, such problems also introduce more pollutants, moisture, and noise into your house.
Sealants and weatherstripping are materials that create air-tight doors and windows. Moreover, they’re among the cheapest energy-efficient home improvements, costing under $10 each.
Caulk, a type of sealant, fills in cracks between immovable components, such as frames. Weatherstripping seals movable elements, including operable windows and doors themselves.
3. Install Window Films
Heat gains and losses in windows account for 25% to 30% of a home’s heating and cooling energy use. Add air leaks to that, and you can see how much energy goes to waste through these parts of your abode.
You can replace old windows with more efficient ones, but they can cost hundreds of dollars each. If you’re on a budget, you can instead go for window films, which cost only a fraction of new windows.
Window films can improve energy efficiency at home by blocking solar radiation. Intelligent films can even prevent up to 70% of the sun’s heat from entering windows.
The less heat from the sun that can enter your windows, the less hot your indoor space can be. That reduces your air conditioner’s cooling load, resulting in lower energy consumption.
Moreover, window films act as insulation for your home during the winter season. They can help keep warm air from your space heater from leaving your windows. As a result, your indoor space stays warmer longer, so your heating system also has less work to do.
4. Get an Air-Source Heat Pump (ASHP)
An ASHP can give you up to three times more heat energy than the electrical energy it consumes. However, unlike other systems, it doesn’t combust fuels to warm up and cool buildings. Instead, it extracts the air’s natural thermal energy and transfers it indoors.
Moreover, according to these specialist heat pump engineers, an ASHP provides hot water. Thus, it’s an ideal option if you need a space heater, air conditioner, and a hot water system. That can also help you save money on equipment purchases since you get all three with one system.
5. Go for LED Lights
Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can be up to 90% more efficient than incandescent lamps. That efficiency comes from how they convert 90% of energy into light and the rest as heat. Incandescent lights only use 10% of the energy they consume to produce light and emit the rest as heat.
LED bulbs cost more, though; a single 40-watt bulb can come with a price tag of $2. However, you can expect it to last way longer, about four to six years with frequent use. That’s about four to six times an incandescent bulb’s lifespan, which often burns out after a year.
Moreover, LED bulbs don’t burn out like traditional bulbs; instead, their lumens depreciate. Lumen depreciation is a gradual decline in the products’ light output. So, instead of flickering out, they become dimmer over time until they stop emitting light.
LED bulbs also provide another way to lower energy use: through a dimming capability. That lets you reduce their brightness, which, in turn, lessens the electricity flow to the bulb. As a result, you can lower their energy consumption and reduce your utility bills.
Start Building an Energy-Efficient Home
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to create an energy-efficient home, even on a budget. Start with insulation, sealing air leaks, installing window films, and switching to LED. If you have a more sizeable budget, you can also consider updating your HVAC system.
Regardless of which upgrades you make, they can help minimize your energy usage. That results in utility bill savings and, most importantly, fewer GHG emissions.
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