Nobody wants a high electric bill, but here in Central Texas it seems the heat of the summers can have our bank accounts taking a beating. So, what do we do here at Southwest Homes to help reduce your electric bill and make your home as energy efficient as possible?
There are a few options we have available here to keep your home energy efficient. Many of these options may be more cost up front, but if you plan to stay in your home at least five years, the savings in the long run will more than pay for itself.
First off, let’s start with the windows. Double paned windows are pretty standard now, but there are various qualities available. Many are filled with air between the two panes. The most ideal choice we prefer here at Southwest Homes is the double paned, argon filled, Energy Star rated windows. That may sound like a bunch of mumbo jumbo to you, but what I’ve learned, is that it basically means they keep the heat and cold out to maintain an optimal temperature inside while allowing your view outside to be crisp and clear. The argon gas in between the windows has better insulating power because it is denser than air. It is colorless as well as odorless so if you ever happen to have a father/son moment of baseball in the house and a window were to break, the released argon won’t cause any harm in the home. It is perfectly safe for your family. This type of window also significantly reduces damaging UV rays, which lead to fading, so you can be confident your interior is as protected from those damaging rays as possible.
Windows alone won’t significantly reduce your electric bill, but when they are partnered with spray foam insulation, together they make magic by bringing that electric bill down! Southwest Homes encourages using spray foam insulation to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. According to the EPA's Energy Star Association it has “shown that monthly energy bills can be cut by up to 20% when air leaks are sealed and efficient insulation is installed. The initial cost of spray foam insulation is well worth the investment, when factoring in the overall savings that will be headed your way over the long term.” Regular fiberglass insulation has gaps in it thus, allowing air to flow through it. In other words, it isn’t sealed -think drafts. The spray foam insulation is sprayed and then it expands, filling in potential gaps, thus reducing leaks and drafts inside the house. It is then cut flush with the studs before drywall is installed. Here is a link with additional details if you’re interested in more information on this topic. https://www.diffen.com/difference/Fiberglass_Insulation_vs_Spray_Foam_Insulation
Another way to save on the energy bill is to choose a tankless water heater over the standard water heater. A few pros to the tankless water heater include a longer life (20 years versus the 10-15 for a tank), less maintenance (not having to replace parts that typically go out on a tank even sooner than the 10-15 year mark), they are 24%-34% more energy efficient than a standard tank (they only heat water when it’s being used rather than constantly heating a full tank of water), and they take up a smaller amount of space so they can be put just about anywhere. The only real downside to a tankless water heater is the initial cost up front, but again, savings in the long run will more than make up for the initial investment.
Compact fluorescents (CFL) came along and many didn’t like them as they had to warm up, they weren’t terribly attractive and they required recycling due to the mercury in them. LED lighting is the new standard and although costs used to be high, they are now quite affordable with many configurations available (candelabra, flood lights, standard bulbs, 3-way bulbs, pin based, dimmable and non-dimmable). When talking with the vendor about lighting choices, ask if bulbs come with their fixtures. If they do, ask if LED is available. LED bulbs use approximately 75% less energy than the old incandescent bulbs and have the instant on factor we are used to that many CFL bulbs don’t offer. LED also does not need to be recycled and they have up to a 25-year life expectancy depending on the quality of bulb purchased and how/where they are used. If the lighting vendor does not have an LED option or you have an LED bulb go out, you can find a local lighting store to help you out. Here in the Brazos Valley, Batteries Plus Bulbs has a wide variety of LED options to help keep your home well lit and energy efficient as well as match the color LED bulb you are currently using. LEDs do come in a variety of whites. Consistency in color, especially in an open floor plan, is critical to having a cohesive flow.
From the very beginning of your build with us at Southwest Homes, we can help ensure that your home will not only be beautiful physically, but we can help you with energy efficient choices to make that electric bill a little more beautiful as well.
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