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

How To Maximize Home Performance

Published by Rease at 6:08 PM under Blog

Most of you are off to a good start with living “Green”. You have switched over to energy efficient light bulbs, sealed up some of the cracks around the house, and you are recycling. These are great steps, as you are beginning to understand the value of reducing, reusing and conserving. Now it’s time for you to move to the next level. There is so much more that you can do at home. We are here to help simplify the process.
Home performance can be confusing, you are seeing so many new and great ideas popping up everywhere and are be being pulled in many different directions, this can be overwhelming. The question is:

Where to Begin?

Affordable Comfort is here to help. We have sorted things out and put them into 3 easy-to-understand categories:

1-Thermal Boundary


3 - Baseload

Organizing your efforts this way will be less confusing and help simplify the process.  Please allow us to explain these categories in a little more detail.

Thermal Boundary

The thermal boundary consists of a continuous air barrier and plenty of insulation.


HVAC equipment includes the furnace, air conditioner, and ventilation. 


The Baseload items include the appliances, electronics, lighting, and water.
Everything that impacts the home’s energy use can be neatly put into one of these three categories. It really is that simple! Armed with this knowledge, you are ready to get started.


First things first, you will need to do an audit to check your current situation, then develop a management plan to address problem areas.
Lets start with understanding the thermal boundary. The thermal boundary consists of a continuous air barrier and plenty of insulation. You need to close up all the unintentional holes and make sure you have enough of the right kind of insulation. This thermal envelope includes your attic, walls and floors, and, if applicable, the basement and crawl space.
You need to take some time to inspect each of these areas carefully. In most cases, the builder did not make sure that everything was airtight and they probably did not install insulation to exceed building codes. Unfortunately, up until very recently the building code only called for R-30 in the attic.
The Department of Energy recommends we build up to R-49 or even R-60. 
So you can see that most homes have half the insulation required to achieve optimal efficiency, and if your home is more than 15 years old it may be less than that because insulation can settle over time and have a diminished R-Value. The same can be said for the basement, walls, floors, and crawl space. You will need to carefully check all these areas.
Next, you will need take a look at your HVAC equipment. Technology has made a tremendous impact on the efficiency of Heating and Cooling equipment in the past 20 years. So if your home has older equipment it may be time to consider a newer and more efficient model. Many older furnace units are 70-80% efficient (if they are running at their peak performance). That means 20-30% of the fuel cost is wasted right from the start.  Newer units run at up to 95% efficient, so they save 25% or more on heating cost.  These same principles apply to our air conditioning units. This is why you need to check out your systems so that you know how efficiently they are operating.   
Up until the point that you are ready to invest in new equipment you need to keep your current equipment maintained, this will help to keep it running at peak efficiency. We recommend a once a year cleaning and checkup. This will save you money and can prevent the 911 service call on the hottest day of the year.
Finally we will finish up with the baseload items. These items consist of the electronics, appliances, lighting and water. Technology has really come a long way with helping manufacturers produce energy efficient appliances and electronic equipment.The Energy Star program makes it easy for us to know what models to choose.

The good news is that you can do much of the baseload improvements yourself. 


There are a few small investments you can make that will help lower your baseload energy usage. For example, paying more for a CFL light bulb as opposed to the cheaper, inefficient bulbs will actually save you money both in usage and product costs, as these bulbs use less energy and last several years.  You can also purchase Smart Powerstrips. Many electronics such as stereos and computers use electricity even when powered off. Smart Powerstrips make sure these devices don't suck up power unnecessarily.  Lastly, you can upgrade older appliances to EnergyStar rated products, which are much more efficient and waste less energy. We need to take a survey of these items to identify the opportunities to increase efficiency.
Achieving optimal home performance does not need to be a complicated or expensive task. You can start saving money right away by taking care of a few things on your own, such as lowering baseload and cleaning/servicing your appliances. For bigger jobs, such as insulation, we are here to help.


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