Crafting a Home Energy Solution, from the Ground Up
At RC Energy Solutions, we specialize in smart home improvements, powered by the sun. And solar panels are one of the best ways to save big on your power bill. But we know that simply putting up a bunch of solar panels can’t solve underlying inefficiencies.
That’s why we offer a wide range of energy-efficient home improvements. We start with a whole-home energy assessment that examines your current and projected power use. Then, we put together a proposal to reduce your use and boost efficiency, with just the right number of solar panels. We tailor our recommendations to the way you live, and we’ll never try to sell you something you don’t need.
Here, we outline some of the home improvement projects that drastically reduce your utility bill.
Insulate that Crawl Space
If you have an uninsulated crawl space or wine cellar in your home, you risk letting the indoor air that you’ve paid to cool or heat escape through gaps and cracks.
Spray foam insulation is one of the most effective ways to seal up those gaps and cracks and reduce your energy bills. In fact, spray foam insulation can reduce your heating and cooling bills by as much as 40 to 60 percent. And spray foam insulation has a couple of added benefits—it reduces allergens and helps keeps out pests. After all, no one wants to see mice droppings on the wine cellar floor!
Insulation is an important piece of your overall home energy solution. Later in this e-book, we’ll discuss the most effective types of insulation (spray foam, batt, and blow in). We’ll also explore other areas that can benefit from insulation (like the attic).
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Add an Energy-Efficient Coating
Stucco is one of the most popular home finishes in sunny Southern California. In fact, 80 percent of California homes have a stucco exterior. Stucco can help keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, but at some point, it will need repairs—that’s just the nature of a stucco exterior.
The good news is that repairing your stucco gives you the perfect opportunity to improve your home’s energy efficiency by adding an elastomeric coating. The right energy-efficient coating has low conductivity to repel both the summer heat and the winter chill.
Because exterior stucco repair is vital for proper installation of the coating, we start by cleaning the surface and repairing any damaged stucco or wood. Then, we apply the elastomeric energy-efficient coating—StrucSureCoat by SureCoat.
StrucSureCoat has a 93 percent thermal emittance, which means that nearly all of heat that hits your home during the summer is reflected back into the atmosphere, so the inside of your home stays cooler. And its waterproof properties help prevent stucco deterioration.
You’ll benefit from the many other advantages of an energy-efficient coating, as well.
- Built-in primer uses nanotechnology to repair hairline cracks
- Lifetime warranty against chipping, peeling, flaking, and cracking
- Waterproof and resistant to mold and mildew
- Low in volatile organic compounds (VOCs)—no unpleasant off-gassing of fumes
StrucSureCoat can be applied over any substrate—not just stucco—and it lasts much longer than a traditional paint job. The coating is UV-stable, so it won’t fade or peel.
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Replace Single-Pane Windows
If your home always feels too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, your windows may be to blame. Single-pane aluminum windows were often installed in older homes because they were relatively inexpensive and low maintenance.
But they have a major drawback—they conduct cold in the winter and heat in the summer. That’s the exact opposite of what most homeowners want. In fact, outdated single-pane windows are one of the biggest causes of a leaky thermal envelope. You’re sending valuable heating and cooling dollars right out the window—unless you opt for window replacement.
Replacing outdated windows with dual-pane vinyl windows can maximize the energy efficiency of your home. But remember, not all dual-pane windows are created equal. Some older dual-pane windows on the market have an aluminum casing, and they’re really no better than single-pane windows.
Energy efficiency standards have changed greatly over the past few years. To get the most for your money, look for replacement windows that are Energy Star certified. The certification guarantees that your new vinyl windows meet energy efficiency standards for both U-factor (thermal conductivity) and Solar Heat Gain Coefficiency (SHGC), which measures how much heat penetrates the glass.
In addition to improving energy efficiency, vinyl replacement windows can reduce the amount of noise transmitted into your home. Some of our clients have been amazed out how much quieter their homes seem after vinyl window installation. And, of course, vinyl replacement windows look great.
It’s important to hire a trustworthy professional for your vinyl window installation. Our window installers are factory trained and certified to give you the best results possible.
Learn more about how new vinyl windows can save you money and improve the beauty and comfort of your home.
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Upgrade the HVAC
Proper maintenance of your HVAC system is essential for keeping your home comfortable. But even with all the right maintenance, the furnace or the air-conditioner could conk out at the most inopportune moment. Furnaces always seem to blow in the middle of a cold snap, while air conditioners invariably go on the fritz during a heat wave. So when should you repair, and when should you replace?
If your unit is more than 10 years old, replacement is probably your best option. That’s because heating and cooling technology gets more advanced every year, with energy efficiency improvements of up to 7 percent a year. Although replacement can be costly, the amount you’ll save on your utility bills makes replacement a smart option.
For the most-energy efficient furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner, look for the Energy Star label. Energy Star products are guaranteed to work at least 15 percent more efficiently than those without the Energy Star label. We’re proud to offer Energy Star products from York, a leading name in furnaces, heat pumps, and air conditioners.
Choosing the right size for your HVAC system will also help you save money. If your system is too big, it won’t work efficiently and will cost more to run. A too-small system will have to work harder to heat and cool your space, which is also costly.
We assess your home and your overall energy usage to provide you with a system that’s the right size for your needs. And our professional installers ensure that your new system works at peak efficiency.
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Consider Additional Home Insulation
A well insulated home will certainly save you money on your energy bill. You may think that you don’t have to worry about home insulation because insulation was included during construction. Well, yes. But certain areas, especially crawl spaces and attics, can benefit from additional insulation. And insulation can be damaged over time, especially if you’ve ever had a pest infestation.
Check out our insulation overview.
We focus on three main types of insulation:
Fiberglass insulation, also known as batt insulation, comes in large rolls and is fairly easy to install, making it a cost-effective solution for adding more insulation to your home. It’s a good, basic option, but it doesn’t fill irregular spaces completely.
Spray foam insulation is the product of choice for insulating crawl spaces and wine cellars. It’s ideal for tight spaces that need both air sealing and insulation. It can control moisture and keep pests out.
Blown-in insulation is one of the most environmentally friendly options because it’s made from mostly recycled materials. Blown-in insulation is resistant to mold, insects, and rodents, and it has fire-retardant properties. This type of insulation is sometimes called loose fill insulation.
Insulation can be added to any room in your home that always seems to feel too hot or too cold. The most important place to add insulation, though, is the attic.
Attic insulation can cut your energy bills significantly, all year round. In the winter, insulation keeps warm air in, so you spend less on heating bills. In the summer, insulation can prevent your attic from overheating and taxing your HVAC system—especially when you combine additional attic insulation with a properly ventilated roof and a solar attic fan.
We also replace insulation that’s been damaged due to pest infestation. And if a small rodent has died in the insulation, we offer deodorizing services to get rid of the nasty smell.
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Add a Solar Attic Fan
As we discussed in the home insulation section, heat buildup in your attic can have a negative effect on your energy bills and can overburden your air conditioning system. While additional attic insulation definitely helps, smart homeowners also add a solar attic fan.
Solar attic fans effectively remove moisture and excess heat from your attic to reduce your energy costs and improve the performance of your air conditioning unit.
Plus, solar attic fans work in conjunction with roof ventilation to extend the life of your roof. As you’ll read in the roofing section, vented roofs improve air circulation, reduce the risk of roof leaks, and keep your roof shingles or tiles cooler so they won’t degrade as quickly.
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Repair the Roof
No roof will last forever, so when it’s time to make repairs, consider your energy-efficient roofing options. An energy-efficient roof could save you up to $20,000 over a 30-year period. And whether you prefer the look of an asphalt composition shingle roof or a clay tile roof, there’s an energy-efficient option available.
Your roof is continually blasted by the elements, so it’s important to choose a durable roofing system. And the type of roofing material is just one aspect of that system. In addition to selecting insulated tiles or shingles, you also need a roofing system that prevents moisture from accumulating and causing damage.
Let’s take a look at the components of energy-efficient tile roofing. The system starts with elevated battens, so if a broken tile or flashing allows water to penetrate the roof deck, it can flow out. Standard battens cause water damming, which can ultimately lead to a leak.
Elevated battens also allow air to circulate more freely, and they provide air space between the tiles and the decking that helps insulate the attic.
A vented ridge works with the elevated battens to help hot air escape from the roofing system. It also reduces the risk of roof leaks and can be used to vent the attic.
Vented eaves are another important component of energy-efficient tile roofing. They allow cool air to enter the roof system and flow under the tiles to cool down the roof. The vents can be both decorative and functional.
The roof’s underlayment offers protection from the elements and acts as a secondary waterproof barrier.
The tiles themselves are the final component. They work to prevent the sun’s heat from penetrating the roof and heating up the home. Durable clay and concrete tiles have a high thermal mass that makes them highly energy efficient. They’re Class A fire rated, as well. And tiles with the Energy Star label reflect at least 25 percent of the sun’s heat to further cool the roof.
An energy-efficient asphalt composition shingle roof also includes multiple protective layers.
First, intake ventilation helps prevent heat and moisture buildup while allowing fresh air to flow into the attic.
An ice and water barrier prevents moisture from seeping into eaves, valleys, dormers, and skylights.
The underlayment provides additional protection between the shingles and the roof deck and helps prevent damage from wind-driven rain.
Some shingle roofs come with a starter product layer, which eliminates the need to cut shingle tabs.
Reflective shingles help keep the roof cooler overall and reduce the load on your air conditioning system to provide more energy savings. They can also increase the life of your roof because when shingles are kept at a lower temperature, asphalt aging doesn’t happen as quickly.
Exhaust ventilation helps vent hot air and moisture out of the attic. Finally, hip and ridge shingles protect the ridge vent while providing an attractive finish.
When researching roofing companies, look for professional installers who specialize in the roofing materials you want to use on your home. And of course, if you plan to install solar panels, your roof must be in good repair. Before starting any solar panel project, you may need tile roofing repair or clay roofing repair. Or, you may want to install an energy efficient roofing system to cut your utility bills even further.
Learn more about roofing repairs and total roofing systems from RC Energy Solutions.
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Maximize Energy Efficiency with Solar Panels for Your Home
The advantages of solar energy are clear—by adding solar panels, you can slash your utility bills while harnessing clean, renewable energy.
Read up on the benefits of solar solutions, and get answers to frequently asked questions about solar panels.
How do solar panels work? They use photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into energy. The photons, or particles of light from the sun, knock electrons free of atoms, transforming those electrons into DC (direct current) energy. Then, an inverter transforms the DC energy into AC (alternating current) energy so it can power your home. Solar power is ideal for Southern California because the sunnier the weather, the more power your panels will produce.
Solar panels are definitely an investment. The cost varies depending on the size of your system and the number of solar panels you install, but according to California Solar Statistics, systems under 10 kilowatts cost, on average, $5.29 per watt. Since the typical home system produces four kilowatts of power, we can calculate an average cost of $21,160. The good news is that the Solar Investment Tax Credit provides a dollar-for-dollar credit of 30 percent of the price you paid for your solar system. So, if your system costs $21,160, you would qualify for a tax credit of $6,328, for a net cost to you of $14,812. Purchasing a solar system also adds value to your home—up to 50 percent of the cost of the system.
But many of the benefits of installing a solar energy system only apply to those who purchase their solar panels. While some homeowners believe that leasing a solar energy system is less expensive, they’re really just leaving money on the table. People with leased systems don’t qualify for the Solar Energy Tax Credit. Also, real estate appraisers count leased systems as liabilities, not assets. A leased system can actually make your home more difficult to sell.
Learn more about the pros and cons of leasing vs. buying your solar energy system.
Once you’re convinced of the advantages of solar energy and you’ve decided to purchase your solar energy system, start with an in-person consultation from an expert installer. An in-person consultation will ensure that your system is optimally designed for your needs, with just the right number of panels. The consultation also provides you with an opportunity to ask questions and learn more about how to get the most out of your solar panels.
Read up on the benefits of an in-person consultation with a solar energy expert.