Worldwide energy use is projected to increase as populations rise globally. Energy efficiency is a global megatrend that will only become more important as the world’s population increases. With an increase of people in the world, homeowners and businesses will want to focus on improvements that will make homes and buildings energy efficient and eco-friendly. There are many practical solutions to help retain energy and ensure efficient building and home renovations.
Keeping a Roof Cool
In particularly warm climates, a practical way to make a house more energy efficient is by installing a cool roof. A cool roof is made of roofing materials that have high solar reflectance and thermal emittance properties, which means they can reflect the sun’s ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths and radiate any absorbed energy. Cool roofs can decrease energy consumption by decreasing the amount of heat transferred to the house below it. With less heat coming in from above, the cooling system uses less energy to create a comfortable temperature.
Properly Insulating Systems
Another way to gain energy efficiency for a property is to properly insulate it. Insulating will increase comfort and significantly reduce heating and cooling usage and cost. Properties that have energy leaks can generate high energy bills because they allow hot air to seep in during the summer months and cold air during the winter months, making the HVAC system work harder to maintain the desired temperature. With proper insulation, however, you can alleviate these concerns. Besides walls, floors and ceilings, it’s important to properly insulate hot and cold water piping and HVAC ducts with closed-cell, elastomeric foam insulation like ArmaFlex® which provides thermal efficiency along with the necessary prevention of condensation and water vapor transmission on cold water piping and air handling systems.
Addressing Window Age and Orientation
Residential properties can waste high amounts of energy through older doors, windows, and skylights. Sometimes energy loss can even be due to the orientation of windows relative to the sun. The loss of hot or cool air through outdated windows and doors can lead to overworking the HVAC system and result in higher energy use. To control energy levels, consider replacing older windows and doors with ENERGY STAR certified products. If replacing is not an option, consider using weather-stripping and caulking to tightly seal the frame openings.
Installing Ceiling Fans and Smart Thermostats
The HVAC system plays a significant role in making a living space comfortable. However, if the system is not managed correctly, it can become inefficient. Installing ceiling fans is an excellent alternative to running the AC unit constantly, allowing you to set your thermostat at a higher setting. According to the EPA, raising your AC thermostat setting just 2° can lower your energy use by 15%. Even in cool months a ceiling fan set in the clockwise direction at low speed can circulate warm air that is concentrated near the ceiling down into the living space, so this is a great multi-season solution.
Upgrading an HVAC system with a programmable smart thermostat can offer the convenience of creating a customizable program for your schedule to avoid having to manually change the thermostat each time you want to adjust the temperature. Or manage the settings with an app when your plans change. By simply programming the smart thermostat to turn off the HVAC system when the house is not occupied and to come back on just before you come home can save energy and money.
Keeping to Code with ArmaFlex
Energy conservation reduces the consumption of natural resources, reduces pollution in the environment, and saves building owners and homeowners money. As a result, energy conservation standards and codes were developed to ensure energy conservation is a priority for new and existing buildings. Over 80% of states have a mandatory energy conservation code and all of these states have used ASHRAE 90.1, the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), or a combination of both as a basis for their code. ASHRAE 90.1 outlines standards for constructing energy efficient commercial buildings, however, since this is a standard, and not a law, ASHRAE 90.1 is not enforceable unless it is adopted by a state or municipality or provisions within it are included in a model code that is adopted.
It is critical for building designers to understand the energy saving requirements outlined in ASHRAE 90.1 and the IECC and how insulating systems can help. Mechanical equipment is an important source of energy loss and insulating these systems is an effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with very little upfront investment. Armacell’s ArmaFlex family of products all satisfy the requirements of the thermal conductivity ranges specified in ASHRAE 90.1 and the insulation temperature range limits specified in IECC. ArmaFlex provides protection against thermal losses on chilled water, refrigeration lines, plumbing pipes and pumps, and HVAC ducts. Not only does this layer of protection reduce energy use and costs, every insulated line or duct means one less piece of equipment that will be wasting resources.
A second look at smart, energy-efficient building materials choices will pay off now and in the future.