Evenly distributed temperatures using construction, systems, and technology make a home more comfortable to live in. Here are five ways to utilize energy-efficiency and other home upgrades to make your home more comfortable to live in.
1. Install a Programmable Thermostat or a Smart and Automated Thermostat to regulate your home’s temperature. A programmable thermostat is designed to adjust the temperature according to a series of programmed settings to automatically reduce heating and cooling in your home when you don’t need as much, delivering savings without sacrificing comfort. A Smart thermostat performs the same function, but it allows you to adjust the settings from internet connected devices, such as your smartphone.
2. Install Window and Door Weatherstripping. Weatherizing your drafty windows and doors will reduce uncomfortable drafts, protect your home’s interior from the elements, particularly from sunlight, precipitation and wind, reduce energy consumption and optimize energy efficiency.
3. Improve your home’s ventilation to keep mold spores, mildew, smoke, dust, dust mite feces, pet dander, pollen, food odors, and other contaminants out of your home.
An air purifier or air cleaner is a device which removes contaminants from the air in a room. These devices are beneficial to allergy sufferers and asthmatics, and at reducing or eliminating second-hand tobacco smoke, dust, pollen, pet dander, mold spores, and dust mite feces, that act as allergens, triggering allergies in sensitive people. Smoke particles and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can pose a risk to health. Active air purifiers use ionisation for cleaning the air. Passive air purification units use air filters to remove pollutants, and are more efficient since all dust and particulate matter is permanently removed from the air and collected in the filters.
Energy-efficient and tight envelope homes--both new and existing--require mechanical ventilation to maintain indoor air quality. All of the fans, vents, and ventilation equipment in a home work together as a "ventilation system" to exchange indoor and outdoor air without wasting energy. (There are four basic mechanical whole-house ventilation systems--exhaust, supply, balanced, and energy or heat recovery).
Make sure that your kitchen has a kitchen hood ventilation fan that has earned the ENERGY STAR rating.These use 70% less energy than standard models, improve comfort, and remove odors and moisture with less noise.
Install window screens on all of your home’s windows. Windows provide the primary means to control air flow in most homes. People open windows to provide fresh air, ventilate odors and smoke, dissipate heat and moisture, and create air movement on hot days. While exhaust fans and central air systems can mechanically ventilate a room, opening a room to the outdoors is perceived as more direct and natural.
Dry, well-ventilated bathrooms are important in preventing mold growth in bathrooms. ENERGY STAR certified bathroom ventilation fans provide better efficiency and comfort with less noise, and feature high performance motors and improved blade design, providing better performance and longer life.
4. When renovating your home, look for paints, sealants and adhesives with low off-gassing to maintain, or improve, your air quality. These are labelled Low VOC, No VOC, or Zero VOC. A VOC is a “Volatile Organic Compound.” The way a chemist uses that phrase, the word “volatile” describes a liquid that evaporates at room temperature, and the word “organic” means it is a compound that contains carbon.
Thousands of different VOCs, some natural and some man-made, can be found in the air. In caulks and sealants, VOCs are used as solvents, or thinners, that work with the resin–the part that binds together all the ingredients of the sealant and allows it to adhere to the building materials. The phrase “Low VOC” is used to describe a sealant product with a VOC content at or below 150 g/L. The number generally accepted for a low VOC paint is less than 50 grams per liter; a zero-VOC paint has fewer than 5 grams per liter.
5. One of the most important things about feeling comfortable at home is having good lighting. Consider changing out the bulbs in the light fixtures you use most often, such as in a kitchen or in an entryway, for energy-efficient models.
LED (light-emitting diode) lights are up to 80% more efficient than traditional lighting such as fluorescent and incandescent lights. Ninety-five percent of the energy in LEDs is converted into light and only 5% is wasted as heat. Quality LED light bulbs last longer, are more durable, and offer comparable or better light quality than other types of lighting.
Smart and Automated Lighting is a lighting technology designed for energy efficiency. This may include high efficiency fixtures and automated controls that make adjustments based on conditions such as occupancy and daylight availability.
With wireless options (usually operated with wireless remotes), you can control light from around the room or elsewhere in the house. Being able to control lighting with a remote is a smart solution if you’re looking for how to improve lighting in a bedroom. Once you’re cozy in bed, you don’t even need to get up to turn off or adjust the lights.
Replace dated lighting fixtures with energy efficient ones. LED is a highly energy efficient lighting technology. ENERGY STAR rated LED products use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than incandescent lighting.
Lighting manufacturers have made it easier than ever to replace energy-hogging fixtures and bulbs with those that last longer and trim utility bills. When you're at your lighting showroom, simply look for products with the Energy Star label. Plus, old light fixtures can quickly date a space. Replacing old chandeliers and light fixtures with fresh models can take years off your home’s looks.
Dimmers and lighting controls save energy and the environment, increase safety, extend the lighting system life, increase productivity, and allow individuals to adjust light levels for specific entertainment options, enhance ambience, and take advantage of daylight to reduce energy use.
Dimming reduces the amount of electricity a light uses and increases the life of low-voltage lighting such as halogen downlights. When you buy bulbs, check that they will work with a dimmer.
Solar lights are versatile, lower energy costs, require little maintenance, continue working even if there is a power outage, install easily, give off no emissions so they are better for the environment, are safer for pets and children as they are cooler to the touch and there is no risk of electrocution, and use the sun--a renewable resource. Many have darkness sensors, so they turn on and off automatically, saving energy and money.
Consider installing Solar tubes and skylights to provide natural light. Natural light is better for your health, for the environment, and for your electric bill--daylight is free. Once installed, your dependence on electricity is reduced.
Install skylights in darker rooms or as natural downlights in work rooms such as kitchens. If you’re buying or building a new house or apartment, or are undertaking a renovation, position the rooms and spaces where you spend most time during the day to the north or northeast so they capture the lion’s share of daylight.
Realty Sage uses Livability Categories that show how homeowners can potentially benefit from a property’s features, certifications and technology. One of these Livability Categories is Comfort.
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Written by Halina Mantyja, Realty Sage
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