by Scott Ranck
My physical body is one unit made up of many systems. I have circulatory, digestive, nervous and reproductive systems just to name a few. The proper functioning of each system impacts the whole. If my stomach is upset, my whole body is impacted. Our homes function in the same way!
It is vitally important you grasp this concept. You have one home structure but it has many systems operating within it. You have a heating system, cooling system, duct system, water system, water heating system and the envelope (walls, windows, doors, insulation etc.)
Realizing each of these systems impact how the whole works together is a must when doing energy upgrades. One common mistake people make when doing upgrades is to replace the air conditioner with a high efficiency unit. That is a great move, but it is a terrible move when you do that first! See, all other energy upgrades impact the size of air conditioner you need! An old inefficient home may require one ton of air conditioning for every 500 square feet. I have seen homes that have installed energy efficient upgrades and then only required one ton of air conditioning for 1200 square feet. A two ton air conditioner is less money than a four ton both to buy and operate.
You want to prioritize what energy upgrades you do to get the most impact for your dollars spent. In other words, you want to discover the low-hanging fruit. Stated one more way, how can I spend the least amount of money while getting the greatest amount of savings?
Scott Ranck is the Conservation Program Coordinator & Energy Specialist for Florida Public Utilities. Feel free to e-mail any energy-related questions or comments to Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now that you understand this concept, in my next article I will give you a prioritized list of improvements going from least expensive to most expensive and in the order of priority.