Attic - Walls - Floors - Basement - Crawl Space - Insulation
Oct222015

Energy Efficiency Case Study: Identical homes, 29% difference in Energy Bills.

Published by Admin at 9:02 AM under Blog

 

These neighbors have the exact same floor plan: 1200 square foot ranch, with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. The one on the right, House A, pays about $240 a month for their energy bill, while the house on the left, House B, pays about $150 for the same time period. Over a three month time period, the two houses spent a combined total of $927 on energy bills, but House B paid $265 less than House A. House B paid 29% LESS in energy bills. So what’s the difference? We’ll give you a hint: it has very little to do with the inhabitants energy usage habits. 

House B was built with Energy Efficiency in Mind

House B worked with a standard builder, but insisted on using Affordable Comfort for insulation and energy efficiency measures.

In addition to some simple lighting changes (using LEDs instead of CFLs or traditional incandescent bulbs) Affordable Comfort used closed cell spray foam to air seal all of the top plates at the ceiling plane of House B. Then, R-49 cellulose was installed in the attic. The neighbor, House A, was stuck with the outdated code’s bare minimum of R-38. (Here’s an explanation of R-Value) House B was also fitted with a combination of closed cell and open cell insulation for the walls. House A was insulated with fiberglass, which is the cheapest and poorest performing insulation on the market. The walls were only insulated to R-11. Both homes have unfinished basements, but House B has insulation along the bandsill in the basement, while House A was insulated using fiberglass batt, which is totally useless for this application.These extra insulation measures left House B with a great Thermal Envelope, sealing conditioned air in, and keeping the house cool all summer long.

Meanwhile, over in House A, the summer was spent cranking the AC, trying to cool the front two bedrooms, which the owners claimed were hotter and more difficult to cool than the rest of the home. These two rooms are on the front of the house, furthest away from the air conditioner/furnace, which means conditioned air has a long way to travel. The path includes multiple turns, which causes a major loss of  energy and temperature along the journey. The air coming from the register this summer was not as cool and also suffered a loss of pressure. The extra sun beaming through the bedroom windows combined with the warm, low pressure air coming through the vents made the bedrooms incredibly difficult to keep cool.

Over the entire summer, House A paid a total of $510 in energy bills while still dealing with rooms that were not quite cool enough. House B paid only $300 and didn’t have any cooling issues.

Let's take a look at the difference in energy usage: 

House A:

 

 

House B:

 

So what happened with House A?

The owners of House A assumed that since they were getting a freshly built home, that it would be energy efficient. This is a common misconception. The truth is, builders are not insulation or energy efficiency experts. They operate off outdated building codes and only do the bare minimum. Builders worry about how the house looks, not how it works. 

Builders often have subcontracts with other professionals that do things such as provide/install HVAC equipment, windows, plumbing, etc. When the owner of House B tried to take energy efficiency a step further and choose their own Energy Star rated HVAC equipment and have Affordable Comfort install windows, the builder refused, saying that she had to use her subcontractors. House A was never offered any insulation or HVAC upgrades or options either.

The owners of House A decided to build their own home to fit their personal needs. They chose the area for the good school districts for their children, and assumed the builder would provide top quality insulation and energy efficiency measures. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what they got. While House A and B look very similar, it’s clear that one home is more comfortable and more cost effective.

Talk to your builder, or talk to us.

If you are planning on building a new home, talk to your builder and insist upon energy efficiency measures. Not only will building smart save you money and make your home more comfortable, it will lessen your carbon footprint.

If you have an existing home, it’s not too late to make your home efficient! Give us a call at (314) 884-0092 or email us at info@affordablecomfort.biz and we will walk you through your options. You can also check out some of our great DIY Articles!

How to Keep Your Energy Bills Lower in the Summer

DIY Winter Repairs for a More Efficient Home

 

 

 

 


Jan152014

Know Your Options for Insulation for New Construction

Published by Rease at 11:37 AM under Blog

If you are building a new home, it is very important to be aware of all your options for insulation before construction begins. Many people make the mistake of assuming their builders will know what is best, but this is rarely the case. Insulation and home construction are two different skill sets. Consider the fact that your builder may construct the walls, but he contracts electricians for the wiring and plumbers for the plumbing. Shouldn’t your new home’s insulation be completed by an expert in the field of insulation?

Builders are not Insulation Experts

Builders have taken on a DIY attitude when it comes to insulation. Fiberglass batt insulation (which most people know as the pink fluffy stuff) can be thrown up by basically anybody. Builders tend to take it upon themselves to purchase the bare minimum of this cheap and easy-to-install material and do not insulate pass the out-of-date building code minimums. The problem with this is that fiberglass insulation is not the best choice for every application in the home, and even when used in the proper areas (walls), if the insulation is not installed properly, your energy bills will suffer.

Cheap insulation does not save you money in the long run

No matter how fancy your new home is or how robust your heating and cooling system is, an under-insulated home will still be drafty in the winter and hot in the summer. All that money you saved on buying that budget insulation for your new home will be quickly eaten away by your high energy bills.

Consider your carbon footprint

Some builders will argue that the average home owner will only stay in a home for 7 years, meaning the money spent on better insulation will not necessarily be paid back through energy bill savings. This line of thinking is selfish in the terms of our planet. Why build a home that will leave a larger carbon footprint simply for the sake of keeping your initial construction budget low? The home you build today may very well still be standing 100 years from now; should the environment continue to suffer for the sake of saving an arguably small amount of money?

Our job is to educate everyone about the options

Most homeowners are not even given options when it comes to the type or quantity of insulation in their homes. We consider it our job to help educate people about the options available. We also hope to work more closely with builders to encourage them to show homeowners side-by-side comparisons of the benefits of effectiveness of each type of insulation. Homeowners should not have to settle for whatever the builder is capable of installing when experts such as ourselves are well-prepared to explain the options and get the job done properly.

 

 

 


Jan212013

How to Be Energy Efficient

Published by Rease at 5:42 PM under Blog

There are so many ways to improve your home, whether it is during new construction or after construction has been completed. There are simple, inexpensive ways to make your home more efficient, which will not only save you money on your utility bills, but also minimize your carbon footprint. Here are a few tips on how to be energy efficient.
 

Let's break it down.

The four basic categories we need to look at are: insulation, air sealing, HVAC, and baseload. We'll take a look at what we can do to help, as well as what you can do on your own. All these steps will get you well on your way to a more energy efficient home with lower utility bills.
 

Insulation and Air Sealing

Over the past 20 years, Affordable Comfort has made over 10,000 homes more energy efficient. Of those 10,000, we can count on one hand how many houses had the proper amount of insulation installed before we began working on them. Chances are, your home could use a serious insulation update. The issue is, building codes are not really up to par with what would make your home energy efficient. The builders rarely want to go the extra mile and spend the extra money to provide your home with quality insulation.
 
It's the same story for air sealing. You may notice that certain areas of your home are draftier than others. Many people write this off as something that cannot be helped, but that is far from true. If you invest in updating the insulation and air sealing in your attic, you will feel an immediate difference in your home's comfort level. Plus, you'll see lower bills within the first billing cycle after your repairs.
 
Band sill insulation is another area of your home that has a very high return on investment. Band sills are the set of boards that sit on top of a foundation wall and run around the house. To better insulate band sills, we use a closed-cell 2-part spray foam insulation.
 

HVAC

 

HVAC equipment often comes with the home and simply sits there until it ceases to work. Just because your air conditioner, heater, water heater, etc is functioning, does not mean it is functioning efficiently. HVAC equipment generally has an expiration date of around 20 years, so if you are nearing that mark, you should take a look at how your equipment is functioning. You may want to consider updating appliances early and switching to something with the Energy Star logo, which guarantees a more energy-friendly system. If you don't have the extra room in the budget to replace everything at once, start replacing one or two appliances per year. The return on investment you see from the new Energy Star rated appliances will most certainly help fund any further updates.
 

What is baseload?

 

 Baseload is any energy use outside of heating and cooling. Basically, this is the amount of energy you use in your home during the months that neither your air conditioner nor heater is in use. Things such as refrigerators, lighting, small appliances and water heating are combined to create your baseload. Lowering your baseload will, of course, lower your energy use overall, so it's a good idea to take steps towards lowering it. The good news? Lowering your baseload is easy to do on your own.
 
Once again, switching to Energy Star rated appliances will be a huge help. You can also install energy efficient lighting in place of incandescent light bulbs. In fact, this will soon be mandated and incandescent light bulbs will cease to be manufactured, so you might as well switch over now. To save on water heater costs, you can lower your water heater by a few degrees and install low-flow showerheads and faucets. You will most likely barely notice a difference in your showers, but you will be saving a significant amount of money on water and water heating costs. Even installing a simple insulation blanket around your water heater will have a noticeable impact on efficiency.
 

What else can you do?

Outside of lowering your baseload, you can also make some simple air sealing changes to help keep conditioned air within your home. Visit your local hardware store and pick up some sealing supplies, then seal up your windows and doors throughout your home. You'll notice that the air near these windows are doors will feel similar to the air in the rest of your home. The sealing keeps the conditioned air in, and the outside air out.
 
If you are serious about becoming more energy efficient and aren't sure where to begin, give us a call. We can come out to your home and perform an energy audit that will let you know exactly where your home stands, as well as make recommendations. No obligations. Give us a call at 314-209-8700 or send us an email at info@affortablecomfort.biz.