If you have been contemplating upgrading your home to be more eco-friendly you might be wondering which options are the best value. Some options are very expensive and ultimately equate to eco-bling, but if you want to get the best bang for your buck look no further than these suggestions.
Shade Trees, Awnings, and Overhangs may Save more energy than Solar Panels can generate
Preventing radiant heat from entering your home is actually a better first step solution than generating energy at your home’s location, which you then use to reduce the total temperature of your home. It is better in terms of the cost efficiency and returns on investment. Adding overhangs or awnings over windows that would let radiating energy into your home is very affordable. Adding solar panels is often a major investment. Solar panels are still a good idea but would be a much better idea of a home that already has the overhangs and awnings that keep it cool year round. “The cleanest energy is the energy you never use”. If your home doesn't have many trees you might consider planting something soon. The best time to plant a tree is 10 years ago, the next best time is today.
Most Attics Have Heat Vents, But a Radiant Barrier and an Unvented Attic is Better for Texas
Most homes in Austin Texas have heat vents in the roof. The common thought is that letting out heat from the attic keeps your home cool. However, it may be much better to not let heat into the home in the first place. Some homes are setting up their attics to have as tight of a seal as possible to keep heat out. Another technique that is very effective for keeping a home cool and energy efficient is a radiant barrier. A radiant barrier is a layer under your roof which reflects heat away from your home away from your home altogether. Combining a radiant barrier with a well-sealed attic will help to regulate temperature changes to your home. That will keep your energy bills low since you are regulating heat by passively reflecting it away from the home, instead of venting it out or piping in cooler air.
Insulated Water Heaters are Better than Tankless Water Heaters
While tankless water heaters are in vogue right now, there is a better solution. Essentially, insulation has improved enough that the old style of water heaters with a tank, built with more insulation, take much less energy to run than they used to. Engineering can add a lot to a hot water system in a home too. For example, a truly efficient home can now be built with a button that you press when you want hot water. Rather than leaving on a faucet until hot water comes out, a press of the hot water button, waiting for twenty seconds and then turning on the water gets you the hot water you wanted.
Meanwhile, complicated maintenance on the tankless water heaters leads to decreased year over year performance. Statistics show that most people don’t properly maintain their water heater regardless of which type it is. Most water heaters should be flushed at least once a year for example. So you might as well get the type that performs better over the multi-year life span and responds better to sub-optimal maintenance.