People have tendencies to jump on bandwagons — energy efficiency, saving energy, being “green,” buying the latest smart home tech gadgets. But whole-house energy efficiency doesn’t start with a trip to the nearest home improvement center to buy every energy-efficient gadget in the store.
In fact, Arlington, TX air conditioning service and repair contractors suggest that energy efficiency is actually of secondary importance — at least at the start. Where to start, they say, is with education and build from there.
In this post we learn from Arlington, TX air conditioning contractors who have spent the past 10 to 15 years introducing homeowners to new technologies and improved cooling and heating technologies. The lesson learned is not to “rush into it” but to “educate” oneself to make “informed decisions” and to develop energy-efficiency awareness and, if possible, strategies to achieve.
The information presented is meant to give homeowners a better understanding of a whole-house approach to energy efficiency when working with an Arlington, TX air conditioning contractor to implement change.
What is Whole-house Energy Efficiency?
A whole-house systems approach to energy efficiency looks like this:
Cooling and heating equipment + the home’s complete environment = energy efficiency . . . Including better equipment performance, lower monthly utility bills, and energy conservation.
Cooling and heating equipment is easy to understand: the air conditioner outside and the furnace in the attic.
The home’s complete environment needs explaining. It can include, but is not limited to:
- The amount (and quality) of insulation in the attic
- The condition of the ducts that run throughout the home
- How tight the front door closes
- The spaces between the windows and the walls
- If there are fireplaces or skylights in use
- The heat generated by appliances and electronics in the home
- The type of electric lighting in the home and how much sunlight enters the house and when
- Which direction the house faces during the sunniest (hottest) part of the day
- And the habits of people who inhabit the home
Arlington, TX air conditioning service and repair contractors are much more aware of these factors than the average homeowner and are expanding their business offerings to include whole-house energy planning.
Where to Start
If you are working with an Arlington, TX air conditioning contractor you trust, you won’t be rushing out to buy the latest and greatest (and most expensive), but you will be asking yourself a question:
What are your options?
Arlington, TX air conditioning contractors report that when homeowners spend a considerable amount of money on what they believe are efficient upgrades, they are often disappointed with the results because they never took the home’s environment into account. The savings realized from new, more efficient equipment are often lost through air leaks, a lack of insulation in the attic, and other issues they are unaware of.
“I’ve seen homeowners spend a fortune on things that sounded good and felt good but did not add up in the end,” one Arlington, TX air conditioning contractor said. “Without a plan for a whole house, they make decisions that later locked them out of other, better choices they had not yet thought about or even knew about. They kept going with the ‘installment plan’ because it seemed like the right thing to do.”
Making incremental improvements by adding energy efficient upgrades without improving the overall energy envelope and performance of the home was like “putting lipstick on a pig,” he said.
“They learned the hard way that it’s easy for homeowners to to fall into the trap of putting lipstick on a pig if all we do is buy energy efficient upgrades and put them into inefficient homes,” he said. “You do save money because the equipment you are using is better than what it replaced, but you’re not getting the full impact and savings out of that equipment if it’s installed in a leaky home.
“You save a little money when you can save a lot more — and help conserve energy and quite possibly improve the resale value of your home because you can demonstrate cost savings over a period of time.”
Upgrade fever “is so incredibly wasteful,” he said, “because junking that old appliance creates waste, we buy the new equipment on credit, which is sort of wasteful in itself. And we still haven’t solved the bigger problem — our houses are basically energy inefficient to begin with and are not built with a system approach in mind.”
How Valuable Will Upgrades Be?
From a financial perspective, the companies that sell energy efficient appliances and widgets persuade homeowners to buy them by pointing out that they will quickly save money with their technologies and products.
“I think sound financial decision making when it comes to energy and your home should also include this: What value does the upgrade or upgrades do to your property as a whole?” the Arlington, TX air conditioning contractor said. “Will it add value to your home? Will it help you sell the house in the future? Unfortunately, most homeowners are influenced by what I call the HGTV (Home and Garden TV) syndrome. They want granite countertops and all the aesthetics to align to their tastes.
“We had a customer who decided on his own it was more important to replace aging air conditioners with two Trane 15-seer units, costing him upwards of $15,000. He was well-meaning. His electric bills went down for a while but, as the house aged and the energy infrastructure got older, the utility bills went back up because the house was essentially energy inefficient.”
With today’s energy costs rising, the Arlington, TX air conditioning contractor said a whole-house systems approach to energy efficiency is the way to go because “you don’t have to do it all at once and its objective is to make the house as energy efficient as possible, which ultimately will save you more money than just buying more efficient air conditioners and heaters.”