Saving Money – The Best Energy Efficient Home Improvements for Austin Homeowners


“Next to paying off high interest credit cards, making your home more energy efficient is the best investment you can make in today’s economy.” – CNN Money

With the ever rising cost of energy, more and more homeowners are taking notice of how quickly many energy efficient home improvements can pay for themselves. The average home here in Texas is 30 years old. Typically any home more than 5-8 years old can benefit from energy efficient upgrades.

Here are a couple DIY projects that most homeowners can do themselves to start saving money on their home’s energy bills.

The Best Energy Efficient Home Improvements

  • Lighting

The typical Texas home spends 12% of it’s annual energy bill on lighting.

Energy Efficient light bulbs may cost more than the traditional incandescent bulb but it is well worth it.

An ENERGY STAR qualified light bulb:

  • Saves money about $6 a year in electricity costs and can save more than $40 over its lifetime
  • Meets strict performance requirements that are tested and certified by a third party
  • Uses about 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb and lasts at least 6 times longer
  • Produces about 75% less heat, so it’s safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling

Did You Know?

If every American home replaced just one light bulb with a light bulb that’s earned the ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars.

  • Caulk The Cracks

Use caulk or weatherstripping to fill any spaces around doors and windows. Heating and cooling accounts for more than half a typical homes energy use, and air leakage can add up to 30% to the cost of heating and cooling a home. This is an easy project most homeowners, or an inexpensive handyman can tackle.

  • Seal and Insulate Ducts

Up to 20% of conditioned air can escape at ductwork joints and vents. Sealing ducts prevents this loss, and wrapping ducts in insulation stops additional loss. Be sure to use an R value of at least 6.

Home Improvements that Provide The Biggest ROI

When considering a larger energy efficient home improvement you want to ensure that the home improvement project you are about to consider provides you with the best ROI. The first step you should do is to get a home energy audit done. Audit’s tell you were you are losing the most energy. According to the Department of Energy, 30% of an average home’s annual energy costs are wasted. That’s an alarming statistic that we all should stand up and take notice of, especially here in Texas.

Hill Country Home Solutions, Inc. Located in Cedar Park Texas, provides home owners in the Austin area with Home Energy Audits and various energy saving home improvements specifically designed for your home

Home Energy Audits

Each home is unique and so are its energy efficiency problems. An energy audit is a great way to make energy efficiency upgrades easy to understand, especially in terms of cost-effectiveness. Your auditor will comprehensively test your home in order to identify any areas that are performing poorly.

If you’d like to find out whether your home is a good candidate for an energy audit and for upgrades, request a  home energy report from our friends at Hill Country home Solutions. They will provide you with a home energy report and estimate your savings potential.

  • Attic Insulation And Radiant Barriers

The Department of Energy says that nearly 45 million homes in the U.S. do not have enough insulation and a recent HUD study reveals that 45% of a typical home’s energy waste is lost from the attic. This is by far the most urgent area of concern for most homes, especially here in Austin Texas. But adding more insulation is not always the answer. Many homeowners quickly conclude that adding insulation is the best remedy but later find out the upgrade in insulation didn’t provide the results that was expected.

Ordinary mass insulation like fiberglass or cellulose is a good start toward making your home energy efficient, but once this insulation tops your attic joists, adding more of the same delivers diminishing returns. Mass insulation slows convective and conductive heat transfer, but it does little to stop radiant transfer, the principal cause of home energy loss. Radiant Barriers work to supplement the insulation already in your attic by stopping radiant heat transfer.

Radiant Barriersare designed to supplement your existing insulation and dramatically cut energy

Radiant Barrier Installed on Rafters

loss year round.  Ordinary insulation does little to stop radiant transfer, but Radiant Barriers and Reflective Insulationblocks 97% of the suns radiant heat by reflecting it back. In winter, it reflects back the heat from heated living areas. Energy savings have been from 10% to 39% in independent studies – making it one of the best ways to lower your cost of home ownership.

In the Austin area, Hill Country Home Solutions is the trusted name in Radiant Barriers, Attic Insulation and Attic Ventilation.

Solar Powered Attic Fan

Poor attic ventilation is responsible for keeping homes up to 15° F hotter than they have to be, which is keeping your AC unit working double time and decreasing the life of your roof..

Surprisingly, many homes still being built do not have adequate attic ventilation, and the most popular types of attic ventilation such as ridge vent, wind turbines and conventional airhawk vents just simply do not work. The theory is that hot air rises so any holes towards the ridge of the roof will allow the hot air to escape. In theory, this sounds correct.But as many of us know, it doesn’t work. Why? Because these types of ventilation systems are designed to work together with the soffit vents at the eaves of your roof to cause a suction from the bottom to the top and out the vents on the roof. There are several problems with this type attic ventilation. The first is that most homes do not have the correct size or enough soffit vents and roof vents to effectively exhaust the hot air. In addition to this, the system works using the wind … a constant 15mph wind to be precise. So when there is no wind, if there are trees blocking the wind, or even if there are things being stored in the attic (or even insulation) blocking the airflow from the soffit vents to the roof vents, this ventilation is not working. In addition to these factors, the biggest reason that the ‘Hot Air Rises’ theory doesn’t work in attic ventilation systems is scientific … hot air expands before it begins to rise. Air needs to heat up to a certain point before it begins to rise and by that point hot air has filled all areas of your attic, even the insulation.

Bottom line is, the only attic ventilation systems that actually work are powered, either by electricity or solar powered. A solar-powered attic vent can vent over 1275 CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) of hot summer air. By reducing the amount of heat that is conducted from the attic through the ceiling, heat gain within a home’s interior can be dramatically reduced. Attic temperatures of 170° mean ceiling temperatures in the home of 100° or more. By venting heat within the attic before it is conducted by the ceiling, ceiling temperatures can be lowered by 10°-30°, resulting in 5°-15° lower interior room temperatures.

You can save thousands of dollars over the life expectancy of a solar fan. Lower electricity usage means less wear and tear on HVAC equipment, which lowers maintenance costs. Hill Country Home Solutions is the leader in Solar Powered Attic Fans and Ventilation Systems in the Austin area. With several lines of solar fans, and various sizes to meet each individual homes requirements, they can custom fir the best solutions for any home.

Contact them today for a free evaluation @ 512.914.8093.

Replacement Windows are more affordable than you may know.

Various Window styles and designs

With energy prices constantly rising, energy-efficient windows and doors are no longer a luxury, they are an investment in your future. Energy Efficient Replacement windows can provide huge savings on energy bills, eliminate 99.9% of harmful UV rays, reduce wear and tear on HVAC units, and reduce noise for increased comfort, while improving the beauty and even security, of your home.

What needs to be taken into consideration before replacing a home’s windows, is the main goal of doing such and the condition of the home’s current windows. If the goal is to save as much money as you can on your home’s energy cost, as quickly as you can, then you may want to talk with a professional and have a home energy audit done. Unless your current home’s window are aluminum single pane, the pay back on the cost of replacement windows can be anywhere from 8 – 15 years depending on the quality and number of windows. Radiant Barriers, Attic Insulation and Ventilation, and solar attic fans provide a much quicker return and start putting money back into your pocket much sooner than replacement windows.

If a quick pay off isn’t the priority, or if your current windows are single pane and are actually contributing  largely to your high energy costs, then replacement windows may be a great option. Energy-efficient replacement windows  are the one home improvement that has an abundance of benefits other than just saving energy. They offer homeowners an unprecedented opportunity to increase the value of your home, enhance its beauty and comfort, add security, and reduce outside noise, while reducing your cooling expenses.

In the Austin area, contact Hill Country Home Solutions for your home’s energy efficient replacement windows. They carry a wide array of replacement windows and can custom fit a solution that best fits your taste and personal needs.

In Austin, anyone wanting to make upgrades to their home for the purpose of saving money, should always seek consultation from a company like Hill Country Home Solutions, who carries a wide array of energy saving solutions for your home, not just a insulation contractor. A company that carries multiple products in the energy efficiency field, can fit a solution best fit for your home’s need

Contact Hill Country Home Solutions here:

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Comments
4 Responses to “Saving Money – The Best Energy Efficient Home Improvements for Austin Homeowners”
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  3. enphase m215 says:

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