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How Climate Change Affects Home Energy Use

According to broad scientific consensus, annual average temperatures across the U.S. have increased over the last century with the trend expected to continue.

A report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notes:

“Extreme high temperatures are projected to increase even more than average temperatures. Heat waves are projected to become more intense and cold waves less intense. The number of days above 90°F is projected to rise while the number of days below freezing is projected to decline.”

And as the world experiences more extreme climate changes – notably warmer temperatures – energy consumption and costs will increase as well.

An EPA study reveals:

“If the nation’s climate warms by 1.8°F, the demand for energy used for cooling is expected to increase by about 5-20%, while the demand for energy used for heating is expected to decrease by about 3-15%.

Net expenditure in annual heating and cooling could increase by 10% ($26 billion in 1990 dollars) with a 4.5°F warming by the end of the century, and by 22% ($57 billion in 1990 dollars) with a warming of 9.0°F.”

And, while efforts to mitigate the damaging effects of climate change continue in some nations, homeowners will bear the brunt of increased energy costs for at least the next decade.

The EPA suggests homeowners can battle climate-change increased energy demand by reducing air leaks and drafts, primarily by sealing their home’s building envelope. [A building envelope is the physical separator between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building including the resistance to air, water, heat,[1] light, and noise[2] transfer.] The agency also notes that adding  insulation to attics can “save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs and significantly enhance home comfort with comprehensive sealing and insulating measures.”

Roughly 90 percent of existing homes are considered under-insulated, according to a 2009 survey. “If all U.S. homes were fitted with insulation based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), residential electricity use nationwide would drop by about 5 percent and natural gas use by more than 10 percent,” Jonathan Levy, professor of environmental health at Boston University and lead researcher, said.

Home energy-analysis experts agree that homeowners should pay attention to the mantra “Seal, Insulate and Ventilate” when it comes to optimizing energy savings. However, some homeowners think they can only pay attention to one or two of these methods. Neglecting any one area of energy loss is like suddenly finding three holes in a boat while on the high seas. The question would never be: “Which hole should we plug first?” Plug them all at once, Captain! The great news is that Attics and More offers affordable financing with great ease of confidential application right from our website.

SmarterHouse.org points out that hidden air leaks in your home can account for significant heat loss: “In the average home, small openings in the outer shell of a house account for almost 30% of total heat lost.”

In addition to enhanced energy efficiency, proper sealing reduces the amount of drafts, noise, and moisture inside a home and will equalize temperature differences in rooms. Ventilation goes hand-in-hand with sealing techniques. The Department of Energy notes: “Ventilation for cooling is the least expensive and most energy-efficient way to cool buildings. Ventilation works best when combined with techniques to avoid heat buildup in your home.”

As noted above, nine out of 10 American homes are underinsulated. Heat loss due to insulation issues in walls, roofs, and flooring combined can account for 45% of total house loss.

An energy audit of a home’s insulation can not only discover energy savings but also uncover dangers from unsafe material.  Also, some energy providers may offer rebates for a professional home energy assessment and air sealing and insulation projects. A qualified specialist will begin such an audit with an attic inspection. EnergyStar recommends considering a professional attic-insulation inspector if a homeowner experiences:

  • “Difficult attic access and limited space to work
  • Wet or damp insulation, indicating a leaky roof
  • Moldy or rotted attic rafters or floor joists, indicating moisture problems
  • Kitchen, bathroom or clothes dryer vents that exhaust moist air directly into the attic space instead of outdoors
  • Little or no attic ventilation
  • Knob and tube wiring (pre-1930), which can be a fire hazard when in contact with insulation.”

In addition to enhancements such as eShield insulation, homes may benefit from solar-powered attic ventilation systems.

Climate change is real science, and it’s really happening. Contact us today to discuss how we can help you create an energy strategy for climate change on a complimentary basis.