The all-electric homes of 17 electric cooperative members will soon become much more energy efficient after being transformed as part of the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Eighth Annual Energy Efficiency Makeover Contest. The 17 winning members will each receive up to $3,000 in energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Read the complete news release
Each winner will receive a comprehensive energy audit that includes a blower door air infiltration test, a ductwork leakage test and infrared thermal imaging scan. Upon diagnosis of the energy problems, a team of experts will properly install additional attic insulation and seal and insulate whole-house attic fans and attic access points. Additionally the homes will receive caulk where needed and unwanted air leaks will be sealed. The makeover team will also reconnect, seal and insulate ductwork and replace inefficient light bulbs with CFL or LEDs.
This year's new format was exciting; improving so many unique homes gave the makeover team a wonderful challenge to demonstrate their professional expertise as a teaching format for you, the member. I hope you will watch the educational videos and read the information posted on this website. For those who prefer to choose a professional retrofit vendor, please do not hesitate to contact EDGE to assist you in locating one of our licensed contractors.
We've condensed some of the key elements of our 17 projects to give you and idea about each of the makeovers. You may be able to identify with some of them as they relate to your home. First, the average size of the homes were 1,350 square feet. All were single-story and most had three bedrooms.
Each received a comprehensive energy audit in order to reveal four key areas that impact the electric bill. Those areas of work were:
1) Air Infiltration
2) Ductwork Leakage
3) Attic Insulation
4) Incandescent Lighting
The average age of the homes was 37 years. The average annual energy bill for these homes was $2,521. In comparison, a new home built according to the Co-Ops " Building Guidelines for Energy Efficiency " booklet would use approximately half that amount. The average attic insulation amount was a mere R-11. As part of the makeover, each home received a dense layer of cellulose insulation, increasing the R-Value to R-38, today's recommended standard. Some homes were even missing large areas of insulation. Also, the lighting load in each home was reduced by 75 percent.
The biggest energy efficiency culprit in all the homes was disconnected, uninsulated and leaky ductwork. The average amount of leakage was 400 cubic feet per minute or the equivalent of one ton of heating or cooling. Now, every home has less than 11 percent leakage. We are proud to report that the average estimated energy savings is $627 per home! Everyone wins with energy efficiency.
In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 -40 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set. This is where a great duct sealing program from Energy Design Group Enterprises can really generate a significant return on investment.
Using air barrier sealants to repair ducts can help with common comfort problems, such as rooms that are too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. Fumes from household and garden chemicals, insulation particles, and dust can enter your duct system, aggravating asthma and allergy problems. Sealing ducts can help improve indoor air quality by reducing the risk of pollutants entering ducts and circulating through your home.
During normal operation, gas appliances such as water heaters, clothes dryers, and furnaces release combustion gases (like carbon monoxide) through their ventilation systems. Leaky ductwork in your heating and cooling system may cause “backdrafting,” where these gases are drawn back into the living space, rather than expelled to the outdoors. Sealing duct leaks can minimize this risk.
Leaky ducts can reduce heating and cooling system efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Sealing and insulating ducts increases efficiency, lowers your energy bills, and can often pay for itself in energy savings. Plus, if you’re planning to install new heating and cooling equipment, a well-designed and duct seal system may allow you to downsize to a smaller, less costly heating and cooling system that will provide better dehumidification.