Strategies for Resilient Structures
Air conditioning and water heating are the greatest users of electricity. As solar panels and battery storage are becoming more affordable, efficiency is always the first step recommended to homeowners seeking to save money, create a resilient home and adopt solar energy for their home.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so the saying goes. This is true for energy, where investment in conservation can generate significant long-term savings. Significant energy savings can be achieved through retrofits, meanwhile, a newly built “Passive House can achieve 90% energy savings relative to standard construction.
There are new technologies and solutions that can contribute to significant energy savings as well as cost savings over the life of energy saving products.
Sprayfoam homes up to 50% on their energy bills just by using spray foam and calking between tstuds. Retrofit homes can have the underside of the roof sprayed, which can save around 30% on HVAC costs. (Cost/benefit analysis definitely supports spray foam, as the investment is recouped in about 10 years and savings can help pay off a mortgage.)
Reducing Air Leakage can provide in new-built homes by using a special type of ‘caulk’ between a slab or subfloor and the base plate on an exterior wall can also provide a significant increase in efficiency.
Tstuds: A new exterior wood stud called a “Tstud” reduces thermal bridging by embedding closed cell foam within a new type of stud structure or leaving an air gap within the stud to be filled by sprayfoam insulation. This technology will facilitate super-efficent homes with thermal efficiency similar to a high-quality ice-chest.
Water Heating Efficiency
Heat Pump (Hybrid) Water Heaters use about one-third as much electricity as a conventional electric resistance water heater.” SmarterHouse.org has some good info on water heaters that will support smart decision making.
NOTE: Be careful about claims regarding tankless water heaters providing cost savings as the endless supply of hot water tends to result in both greater water and energy use equivalent to a standard water tank.
Solar energy is becoming cheaper every year and utilities are continually evaluating their energy supply options accordingly. Solar energy is an increasingly cost-efficient energy source that is easy to install and can improve the resilience of a home. Utilities are also adopting solar as a solution that can be rapidly deployed to address the increasing energy demand in Texas. Unfortunately, much of this deployment is in West Texas, which will increase the presence of transmission lines crossing the Texas Hill Country to deliver energy to cities in the eastern portion of the state. Locally generated energy prevents this impact while making our communities more resilient in the face of cyber threats and the potential for wildfires.