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 When undergoing a home remodeling project the homeowner has about a million things on their mind. If the homeowner is also acting as his own contractor then he has close to 2 million things to keep straight and in order. Energy efficiency is likely not going to be high on the list, although it should be. Remodeling gives an ideal opportunity to get rid of the old outdated equipment and to bring the energy efficiency of the home into the 21st century.

Create Energy by Conserving Energy

Up until after the Arab oil embargo of the 1970’s, houses just weren’t built with any concern for energy efficiency in mind. Until that event the people in this country just assumed we had an unlimited amount of electricity and fossil fuels. If we were running short of oil we’d just go drill more wells in some other country and if the country didn’t particularly like it, well, we’d help change their government for them. The Arab oil embargo showed us that we don’t have absolute control over the world’s fossil fuel reserves. In addition, because of the protests over things like Diablo Canyon, and because the coal needed to generate power isn’t available in our state, or even in our part of the country,  the utility companies and the government wisely launched a campaign to make energy conservation the source of power in California. It has worked well so far.  California’s energy usage has stayed constant with no new power plants having to be built in the last 40 years despite net population growth.

Remodel and Increase Home Efficiency

So if you are remodeling a home built before the “Title 24” energy standards were enacted and followed, or even a home built up to the year 2000, your project likely needs help with energy efficiency. Remodeling is the perfect time to look at the buildings energy efficiency and while you are pulling things apart add modern equipment and measures that will save energy and bring your home into the modern world. 

If we look at a house built before Title 24 we see a house with HVAC ducts that run without any regard for leakage. Ducts were joined together from 5’ sections and if the joints leaked, no matter. You’d just install a bigger furnace to compensate for the one third of the conditioned air that is just running out under the house. Same with air infiltration, there was no reason to stop air infiltration, it just meant they had to run the furnace a little longer, no big deal. And Insulation? Why put that stuff in, it’s expensive.

Fix what's on the inside as well as what's on the outside

So any home built before about 2000 needs help and the best time is when you are tearing things apart to make changes anyway. The rebate programs we work with make a point of saying remodeling projects are eligible for incentive rebates. So while you have the drywall off the wall get them insulated and one of the utility companies will help pay for it. If your HVAC equipment is more than 20 years old it is going to be inefficient and facing its last years of useful life. Remodeling is the time to bring in new high efficiency HVAC equipment and have the ducts tested to see what the leakage is. They may just need repair or they may need to be replaced but testing will show you which and remodeling is the time to get it done.

It’s also the perfect time to upgrade the old single pane windows. Or, it’s been proven to be cost effective to change out the dual pane windows with aluminum frames. The aluminum conducts heat and cold so well it negates much of the benefit of the dual pane glass. Plus aluminum window frames have a working life of about 25 years. About that age they begin to deteriorate. Wheels fail and stop turning, grey fuzzy weather strip goes bald and falls out so air just blows right thru the frames.

Remodeling is also the time to insulate everything. After everyone is finished working in the attic bring it up to current standard by adding more loose fill insulation. If the walls aren’t insulated and you aren’t taking the drywall off then have an insulation contractor install blown insulation in the walls thru holes drilled in the interior or exterior wall covering. Remodeling usually means patching walls anyway so a few more patches won’t matter.

So when you are finished your new remodeled home will not only look like new it will use energy like a new home. If you have an energy audit completed and then follow that game plan suggested by the audit results, it’s not unusual to cut utility usage by 30%-60%.

It’s the right time to do it and you’ll like the results.