Today, more single women are buying homes than in previous years, and are actually outpacing single men. Buying a home, as it turns out, is no longer reserved for couples. It’s a sign of personal independence; it’s a way to create equity; and it’s an opportunity to build wealth. But with that home purchase also comes a host of responsibilities for home maintenance and home repairs. For some, this may be a new frontier, but it’s all part of the landscape of homeownership.
One of the most relevant aspects of the home is energy performance – in other words, how well is the home performing with respect to energy usage. For most, this would include heating and/or cooling the home from season to season. And while indoor comfort may be a priority, the cost of annual heating and cooling will soon become even more of a priority. The goal, of course, for any homeowner is to ensure optimum energy efficiency, along with reduced utility costs.
A better understanding of home energy makes for better decisions going forward – like where to make efficiency improvements; how to effectively upgrade existing insulation; and which energy retrofits will deliver the best return on investment. For novice homeowners, it’s therefore quite important to understand the basics of energy efficiency and how it impacts the home.
Air barriers are designed to resist airflow. Effectively preventing air movement through the walls or ceilings will contribute to better energy efficiency. Having the building envelope airtight will reduce air leakage and prevent heat loss.
A very valuable assessment tool, an Energy Audit makes use of diagnostic equipment to identify and locate air leaks throughout the home. This serves as an accurate measurement of the home’s thermal efficiency, as well as deficiencies.
For contractors, the building envelope comprises elements of the home such as the walls, floors, ceilings, and roof – basically everything that encloses the living space of the home. The condition of the envelope impacts energy efficiency.
Important in assessing how well a home is performing, heat flow measures the heat moving from an area of high temperature to an area of low temperature. Measuring heat flow quantifies heat loss in a home, and therefore performance.
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilation and Air-Conditioning. It’s essentially the entire heating and cooling system in a home. In some cases, there may also be a heat recovery system, which serves to recover energy, and enhance efficiencies.
Uncontrolled air leakage into and out of a home compromises energy efficiency in the winter and summer. Doors, windows, and structural joints all contribute to unwanted air infiltration, which in itself diminishes home energy efficiency.
R-Value is the industry standard for gauging the resistance to heat flow. The goal of insulation is to slow down heat transfer, and R-Values measures this capacity. With high R-Value, the ability of insulation to resist heat flow is also high.