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Saving Energy – Home Improvements

If you are like us and looking for ways to lower those ever-rising energy bills yet strive to keep your home comfortable, you need to begin with a professional Home Energy Audit of your residence.  These guys are very diligent in locating spots in your home where your all-paid-for heat and cold air are escaping to the outside.  They also offer many suggestions for remedying these problem areas in your home. Our state of Delaware offered this audit at a $50 cost, however, they provided us with over 25 energy-saving light bulbs (over $250 retail value) to replace our current LED ones.  These light bulbs supposedly have an Average Life of 25,000 hours.  Wooohooo!

We also discussed our inefficient over 20-year-old HVAC system, our poorly insulated fireplace, as well as the uninsulated cantilever which was adding to the uncomfortable temperatures in our front bedrooms during hot summers and cold winters.

The Solar Power Professionals contacted us with a suggestion to install solar panels on our roof as an energy saver, however, it required replacing our existing roof, which is older but still in a good shape.  We were not sold on that idea and after some simple calculations we decided that at this point in our life this option will not save us money, so we continued to research other alternatives.

We decided to replace our current HVAC with much more efficient units and selected Amana  4-ton, 16 SEER, and 13 EER  high efficiency, communicating two-stage AC.

Also, communicating natural gas furnace by Amana with high efficiency (96%), a two-stage gas valve, and a high-efficiency ECM variable-speed fan.

Here is our old furnace with an old 1″ filter, vs the new filter used in the new furnace.

We also replaced our humidifier which we installed only 2 years ago on our old HVAC unit, on the panel of the AC coils making them rust in such a short time.

The new humidifier is much more efficient and more suitable for our new HVAC unit, hence the Schagrin Gas techs installed it in a more suitable place for it, to prevent the humidity from rusting out the AC coils the way ours did.  The reason we originally installed the humidifier in the first place, was that the indoor humidity was very low during the heating season, making the air quality somewhat uncomfortable.

The cooling season has passed so we will have to wait until the next summer to notice the difference with our new AC, but the new furnace is already performing very well.  It operates very quietly and quickly changes the room temperature to the set-up degree.  We can’t wait to see the lower energy bills with these changes.

The well-trained HVAC installation technicians from Schagrin Gas Company, a local family-owned and operated business for 90 years, worked diligently for over 2 days to get it all installed and running.  Their manager stopped by a few times to make sure all was going well and done to his and the company’s expectations, which made us very pleased with the whole experience.

The Energy Services Group worked on improving the air temperature in our front bedrooms, which in turn affects the temperature in the rest of our house.  They remedied this issue by insulating the cantilever and the air ducts leading to these bedrooms.  I will share a lot of pictures of the before and after of this project.

 

Here is the overhang of the second floor of our house.  Once the vinyl soffit was removed, the overhang was closed off with plywood boards, and as you can see in the second picture, once the boards were removed there was NO insulation above it, hence all the cold air was being pushed up the bedroom wall and the floor joint.  This explains why those rooms had such drastic internal temperature changes compared to the rest of the house.

The Energy Group tech used insulating spray foam, Reflectix double bubble insulation, styrofoam insulating foam boards, plus 10″ fiberglass insulation to remedy the problem.

 

Here you see the first step, having the insulating styrofoam board line the back of the cantilever, then sealing all seams with insulating spray foam.

You can easily recognize this item.  Yes, you guessed it correctly, it is a fully exposed air duct to the second-floor bedroom, and as you can see no insulation over it or around it and even all the seams are not taped with HVAC foil tape.  No wonder the hot air reaching the room was barely warm and not heating up the room the way it should.  Most of the heat was escaping into the overhang.

So today they used the spray foam to insulate all around the vent exiting from under the floor, used HVAC foil tape to seal the seams of the air duct, wrapped it with Reflectix double bubble insulation, and taped up these seems as well.  Then they packed the fiberglass insulation into the whole cavity around the air duct.

The next step was to complete the fiberglass insulation all along the cantilever, then replace the plywood board and finally reinstall the vinyl soffit.

The final step of the insulation process…..installing back the vinyl soffit. Beautiful work!  I am feeling the warmth already…:-)…and looking forward to seeing lots of savings on our future energy bills!

My husband and I also removed the old cracked caulk from around our windows and the front door and replaced it with a new all-purpose silicone 100% waterproof caulk, to decrease the draft in those areas and this silicone caulk will prevent future cracks.

We also used the Nashua 324A premium HVAC foil tape to seal off all the exit ends of each floor air duct as well as the wall air returns.  We noticed some large gaps between the air duct and the floor, hence lots of the air was escaping back into the wall rather than entering the room.  This was recommended to us by a friend who used to be a building contractor.

Now you learned a lot about builders’ shortcuts in home insulations and how to remedy them to stay comfortable and conserve energy and cost.

The “icing on the cake” for us with these projects, is the REBATES from the DELAWARE state for conserving energy.  We saved $1500 on the HVAC and 50% on the insulation of the cantilever.  Sweet!

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