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  • Lance Buck

Maximizing Energy Efficiency in Your Home: A Strategic Approach


Improving a home's envelope—the crucial barrier against external elements—is a pivotal step towards enhancing energy efficiency. However, selecting the most suitable upgrades requires thorough consideration of not only their effectiveness but also the associated costs.


Starting with air sealing: Applying a urethane insulation layer to the backside of the envelope is a robust method that seals air leaks and ensures superior thermal insulation. While using full cavity urethane might be cost-prohibitive, sealing the envelope with a thin layer (about an inch or so) is reasonably affordable when paired with cellulose and/or fiberglass batt on top. This sealed envelope can be pressure tested. HERS (Home Energy Rating System) testing can physically assess a home's air tightness, providing a score for infiltration. A baseline score is 100. Older homes might score as high as 200 for a poorly sealed envelope, while scoring 50 or less indicates a good, tight home.


Ductwork: Flexible ducts, available in R-4, R-6, and R-8 values, can also be tested by HERS. Moving ductwork into conditioned spaces is an effective strategy, reducing heat loss during air distribution. This may involve altering or removing attic ventilation requirements.


Ductless Equipment: Transitioning to a ductless system provides targeted heating and cooling, reducing energy consumption. While initial costs for large projects may exceed those of traditional HVAC systems, for smaller spaces, multiple distribution heads paired with a single condenser can be highly effective.


Attic Performance: Optimizing insulation and ventilation in a high-performance attic significantly enhances energy efficiency. Heel heights can be integrated into the truss manufacturing process to improve the pinch area at the wall-to-roof transition. Achieving these standards may require structural adjustments, such as shear transfer panels or tall transfer blocking.


Windows and Doors: The greatest heat loss often occurs through windows. Coatings, fillings, or triple-pane designs can significantly increase efficiency. Window coverings like blinds and drapes can make a difference but aren't considered in building performance. Weather stripping and jamb sealing should be carefully installed and maintained.


Investing in high-performance water heating and HVAC equipment promises efficiency gains but involves substantial upfront procurement costs.


Balancing these choices against their potential long-term savings is crucial. A comprehensive assessment, considering climate, local energy pricing, and available incentives, enables homeowners to make informed decisions.


In conclusion, enhancing a home's envelope for superior energy efficiency involves various strategies, each with its own benefits and costs. Understanding these options and conducting thorough cost-efficiency analysis and testing allows homeowners to create a more comfortable, energy-efficient, and cost-effective living space.


For further insights or tailored advice on optimizing your home's energy efficiency, Inspired Building Design is ready to assist. If you have any inquiries or require expert guidance in implementing these enhancements, please reach out to our architectural experts.

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