Many Las Vegas homeowners are discovering that even older homes can benefit from the latest trends in “green” building design. Besides lowering energy costs, “going green” can make a home more comfortable and healthful by reducing abrupt changes in temperature and improving indoor air quality. Some of the most important trends are also the most affordable, and can easily be retrofitted to you older Las Vegas home.
High Efficiency Appliances
There are many ways to go when replacing an older furnace, heat pump, boiler, or central air-conditioning unit central air-conditioning unit, but one choice you should not make is to be penny wise and pound foolish. First, keep in mind that you can earn federal tax credits for installing a high efficiency system, which can help offset the price differential between high quality and low end units. But also remember that most units last for 20 years or more. When considering which brand and model to buy, pay attention to its energy ratings and cost savings estimates. Do the math. You can often save thousands of dollars over the life of the system. Also keep in mind that improving the other components of the system – ducts, air return, thermostats thermostats – and upgrading your home’s insulation might allow you to replace a large, older unit with a smaller new one.
Really not a new trend, but probably one of the most important components of green building design. Ducts should be sealed properly and should not run outside the insulated areas of the house. Runs should be as straight as possible with as few turns as needed. Joints should be sealed with mastic or special foil tape, not duct tape. Many older homes have oversized ducts, reducing their efficiency. Their size should be based on the output of the furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump, and the total area being serviced.
Insulation and Exterior Energy Conservation Improvements
Federal tax credits are now available for upgrading your home’s insulation, roof, doors, windows, and skylights. The insulation must meet International Energy Efficiency Conservation Code (IEEC) requirements, and the other improvements must use Energy Star qualified materials. Making your house “tight” maximizes the efficiency of your HVAC system.
Many older Las Vegas homes do not have properly ventilated HVAC systems. Inside air is replenished passively when doors or windows are opened or from leaks in outside walls and insulation. An air exchanger actively ventilates your home by replacing stale interior air with fresh outside air, making your home more comfortable and healthful. The fresh air is warmed, cooled, or dehumidified as needed before it enters the HVAC system.
Two other trends in green HVAC are wireless technology and natural gas air conditioning. Wireless Technology now makes it possible to monitor and fine tune an HVAC system’s performance. Zones can be added to new or existing HVAC units without having to rewire your home. HVAC units can be controlled and monitored remotely using PC software or apps for hand held devices.
Natural gas central air conditioners are gaining popularity. Their initial cost is higher than electric air conditioners, but they’re more energy efficient and have a longer service life. Gas powered units have been around for many years, but improvements in their design and technology combined with the growing demand for energy conservation and low environmental impact make them a reasonable alternative to traditional electric units.