Winter’s a good time to think about energy-saving upgrades. It’s a fact that any measures that increase energy efficiency of a home also tend to enhance household comfort and even help the environment. This is especially true in winter, as higher operating costs due to increased energy consumption—as well as the frequent discomforts of a chilly house—sometimes seem to be an annual tradition. It doesn’t have to be that way. Identifying a few opportunities to make energy-saving upgrades to your home can pay off in lower expenses and help keep the house cozier, too. Here are three potential upgrade targets:
Increase Attic Insulation
Heat rises. In winter, that’s bad news if you don’t have sufficient attic insulation. Rising furnace heat conducts through the ceiling and is lost into the attic. However, you’ll still get the bill for it. Most homes are under-insulated by today’s higher standards. Attic insulation is easy to upgrade by simply adding to the existing level. Different layers of insulation—such as fiberglass batts and cellulose loose-fill—may be mixed to arrive at the recommended depth.
Install A Programmable Thermostat
Manual control of your heating system is inefficient and results in temperature swings between too-hot and too-chilly. A programmable thermostat automates temperature adjustments to match your daily household patterns, saving energy as well as keeping indoor comfort consistent. Many of today’s programmable models are also internet-connected, so you can monitor home temperatures and change programmed settings remotely with a phone app or browser format. Energy savings from utilizing a programmable thermostat will usually pay for it after one year of use.
Upgrade Your Blower
Conventional furnace blowers incorporate single-speed motors that squander electricity and don’t produce optimum indoor comfort. New variable-speed ECM (electronically commutated motor) blowers run consistently across a wide range of speeds programmed to match household heating requirements. Consistent variable output eliminates the temperature swings of on/off blowers, while the ECM technology consumes only about 25 percent as much electricity as old-school conventional blowers.
For more about energy-saving upgrades to make this winter more efficient and comfortable, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
When adding attic insulation, homeowners commonly have two choices: fiberglass batts or blown-in cellulose. It’s an important decision because the attic is an important target area for effective insulation. In winter, rising heat in rooms conducts through the ceiling into the attic, causing your furnace to run longer to compensate, raising heating costs. In summer, concentrated heat in the attic radiates down into living spaces and overworks your A/C. Adding attic insulation of the right type and quantity makes a difference in indoor comfort and efficiency year-round. Here’s why blown-in is often the best choice.
Fiberglass batts roll out between ceiling joists and must be cut and patched in an attempt to fill the many odd-shaped nooks and crannies in a typical attic. Cellulose is a loose-fill product composed of millions of bits of pulverized paper treated with fire retardant. Blown into your attic under air pressure, cellulose effectively fills every void of any shape, large or small, for comprehensive coverage to fully inhibit heat transfer. Once installed, cellulose has the coverage density and appearance of a layer of new-fallen snow.
The efficiency of an insulating material is rated by its R value. “R” stands for resistance and the numeral assigned indicates the material’s effectiveness at inhibiting heat transfer. Fiberglass insulation has an R value averaging 3.2 per inch of depth. Cellulose offers an R value of 3.8 per inch—a significant improvement indicating greater heat resistance than fiberglass.
Reduced Air Leakage
No form of insulation is an adequate replacement for proper air sealing to prevent air leakage. However, a layer of cellulose does slow air moving in and out of the attic, while fiberglass insulation has no effect at all.
Fiberglass insulation is made from new raw materials. High-temperature gas-fired furnaces are required to melt and spin the mineral fibers into the finished product. Cellulose is 75 percent recycled paper and cloth and the manufacturing process is far less energy-intensive.
Thinking about adding attic insulation to increase energy efficiency and indoor comfort? Contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.
Taking the time to prepare a water heater for winter can save you money and prevent daily hassles with your hot water tap. The cold Cincinnati winters make it harder for your water heater to do its job. If you don’t help it out a little, it will use more energy than necessary trying to keep your water hot and it may not provide enough hot water at all. (more…)
Increasing the amount of insulation in the attic is an effective way to boost home comfort and energy savings year round. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advises that homes in the Cincinnati area should have a minimum of R-49 installed on the attic floor. To reap the full benefit of adding more attic insulation, it’s essential that the job is done correctly. (more…)
Now that outside temperatures are getting lower, it’s time to take a serious look at how you can reduce heating costs in your Greater Cincinnati area home. Here are four strategies that we recommend. (more…)
The adequacy of insulation is a key factor in your Cincinnati home’s comfort and energy efficiency. If your house was constructed with energy savings in mind, it should have insulation that meets the Department of Energy’s R-value recommendations for our region in the exterior walls, attic and basement or flooring. (more…)
Cold, snowy winters are a reality in the greater Cincinnati area, so while you’re pulling out winter gear, putting on snow tires, and having heating equipment inspected and tuned, don’t forget about the pipes. Here are some plumbing winterization tips that can save you the damage, expense and inconvenience of a mid-winter disaster. (more…)
The right insulation in the right place can do a lot to raise your comfort level and lower your energy bills. Insulation benefits you year round, but it’s especially helpful against the greater Cincinnati area’s cold, snowy winters. Understanding the pros and cons of each type of insulating material will help you start your upgrade plans right.
Does the idea of adding insulation make you think of winter? Many greater Cincinnati homeowners forget about the boost in comfort and savings available in the summer cooling season from insulation. Now’s a great time to have your local handyman add insulation to make your home more cost-effective to cool this season and heat in winter. The best place to begin is in the attic. (more…)
Adding insulation isn’t something that should be left for your winterization to-do list. In addition to keeping you warm in winter, the right level of attic insulation keeps the Southwest Ohio summer heat from seeping into your air-conditioned living space. More insulation could cut your air conditioning bills by up to 15 percent.
Check Your Attic Insulation
If you’ve already got three or four inches of insulation, you’ll want to insulate to between R38 to R49 level. How deep your insulation should be to achieve these R levels depends on the insulation type. For R38 level, appropriate depths are:
- Fiberglass batts: 12 inches
- Loose-fill fiberglass: 14 to 17 inches
- Loose-fill cellulose: 10 to 12 inches
Check the depth in different parts of your attic. You may find there’s plenty of insulation around the access door, but not enough toward the edges or in the middle of the attic. Also check for deteriorated insulation. This no longer forms an effective heat barrier and should be replaced.
Your Options for Better Insulation
If your current levels suggest the need to add insulation, you have two main options.
- Batt insulation – These long sheets of insulation are available in fiberglass, cellulose and some more eco-friendly materials such as cotton from recycled jeans. If not carefully installed, batts may fail to fill in small crevices, leaving room for heat to escape.
- Loose-fill (blown-in) insulation – This comes as small chunks of material, usually fiberglass or cellulose. These small pieces more effectively fill in corners and crevices. Loose-fill insulation requires a blowing machine for installation, but can be added over batts.
Installation Quality Matters
The effectiveness of your home’s insulation depends on proper installation. A professional can help you decide which insulation best meets your needs and determine the ideal amount. A pro can also do the tricky job of adding insulation to fill in crevices sufficiently without blocking the critical sources of ventilation that protect your attic from mold and heat damage.
For an accurate assessment of your attic’s insulation levels and a reliable, professional installation job, consult with us at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing in the Greater Cincinnati area.
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