The most basic purpose of your home is shelter. Keeping rain and wind out, and comfortable temperatures inside. And the first step toward energy efficiency is making your shelter up-to-date.
Out of order
When people talk about energy upgrades solar panels get the most attention. They are great to show off to your friends and neighbors, but should they come first?
To size them correctly you need to know how much energy your house uses. To know that requires knowing how big a heating system you need. And to get that information, the amount of heat that escapes your house is needed.
So the first step in making your home more energy efficient is an energy audit (which I wrote about in my Summer 2010 email newsletter). After you’ve had an energy audit the recommended order for upgrades, known in the industry as “loading order”, starts with*:
- sealing air leaks
- improving insulation
- sealing furnace ducts
- installing super windows
These measures will bring your home up to date and provide you with true twenty-first century shelter. Next is using less electricity:
2 Load Reduction
- replacing lights with fluorescent or LED
- using efficient appliances
- reducing water use
- reducing phantom loads
After that it’s time to upgrade major equipment:
3 Mechanical Systems
- using efficient heating/cooling equipment
- using efficient water heating system
- installing heat recovery ventilation
And finally we come to solar panels and other renewable resource systems:
- installing solar water system
- installing PV solar panels
- collecting rain water
- installing wind power system
It doesn’t matter which item within each category you do first. But it is important to work through the envelope and load reduction items first, then mechanical systems, and only then tackle renewables. Otherwise you can’t really know enough to choose the optimal equipment for your home.
I know it’s tempting to skip the boring stuff, but you’ll get much more bang for your buck by tackling things in order.
*list based on this one