Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy in your home requires much more than just investing in a high-efficiency heating and cooling system. While that’s important, it must go hand in hand with other steps in pursuit of consistent and significant energy savings.
Those steps include proper installation and maintenance of your heating and cooling equipment, weatherization in the form or effective air sealing, insulation and ventilation, and good energy-saving habits.
Let’s take apart an effective whole-house energy-saving strategy:
- High-efficiency HVAC. Modern heating and cooling equipment is much more energy-efficient than even a decade ago, and federal standards require that HVAC equipment surpass minimal efficiency ratings. Discuss with your trusted HVAC contractor what cooling or heating system makes the most sense for your desired comfort and energy savings, household budget, and our Southern California climate.
- Proper maintenance. You can have a state-of-the-art HVAC system but if it goes without routine, regular maintenance for any length of time, you won’t obtain the advertised energy savings. This means both homeowner maintenance (simple stuff like changing air filters and keeping registers clear) and yearly or twice-yearly professional maintenance.
- Air sealing, insulation and ventilation. This is where the whole-house concept really kicks into gear. Ideally, you can start with an energy evaluation to ascertain where your home is losing energy, either via air leaks or inadequate insulation, and then based on that data proceed with whole-house weatherization. Even without an energy audit, you can take steps to seal visible air leaks with weatherstripping, caulk and/or spray foam, and upgrade insulation in vulnerable areas such as the attic. Likewise, proper attic ventilation is essential if you don’t want your attic negatively affecting comfort in the rest of your house.
- Your own energy habits. You’d be surprised at the potential for increasing energy conservation in your home. One of the simplest ways is to get accustomed to higher (or lower) temperatures, depending on the season. Just a few degrees can make a big difference.