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75+ Ways To Lower Cooling (and Heating) Bills

Without Upgrading HVAC system

Part 3 of 4

photo of new home

Image Source: ShutterStock

This is Part 3 (of 4) Of Our Article Offering 75+ Ways to Lower Cooling (& Heating) Costs Without Upgrading Your HVAC System.  Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Plano, TX; Murphy, TX; and Wylie, TX.  We service all homes in southern Collin County TX and Denton County TX with no additional travel-charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your convenience and offer 24/7 Emergency Service.

Solar Window-Film Is An Effective Way To Lower Cooling (and Heating) Bills In DFW

Window Films come In Two Versions; Removable Or Permanent.

Click On Image To: View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Solar Window-Films reject up to 80% of the sun’s heat during summer — and retain up to 55% of the home’s heat during winter.  Reflective window films are affordable, and significant energy-efficiency improvement for existing single-pane windows. 

Insulating Films often pay for themselves in a few years through lower cooling & heating costs.  In DFW window-films are most effective on west & south facing windows.  In DFW window films are least effective on north facing glass — because little to no sunlight shines directly onto north glass. 

Some Solar Window-Films Are Applied On The Exterior Of The Window

 Click On Image To: View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

The Amazon.com website page for this product includes this verbiage:

“Silver 15 Exterior Window Films are silver on the inside and outside.  These window films have low light transmittance (15% = Very Dark).   The reflectivity of the film, blocks heat before passing through your windows. This will keep your home much cooler as it reduces the heat stored inside the window. During daytime, Silver 15 Exterior Window Film gives the window a mirror-like, reflective appearance on the outside.   During nighttime, people can see inside your home.”

Exterior Window-Films reject the heat before it enters the window pane.  Interior window films reject heat after it’s passed through the exterior glass.  This causes the glass pane to possibly overheat — which can break the window pane’s seal.  If the seal breaks, the window will “fog” up — due to moisture between the two glass panes.   With many window manufacturers, applying interior window-film voids the window panes’s warranty.   Before you apply any window-film — check to see if it voids the warranty.  If the windows are out of warranty, it’s not an issue.

NOTES:

  • Window films darken the home’s interior.  They are primarily for west-facing windows — where the darkening effect will make the room move livable when the sun is in the west.
  • For single-pane windows — interior window-film can be used.
  • Interior installed films on dual-pane glass are not recommended — due to the possibility of overheating the window panes.
  • If you have Low-E glass — there is no benefit from adding window-film.
  • Low E Glass has a Low-E coating applied to the inside glass’ surface.
  • Low E glass saves energy by rejecting most of the sun’s heat during summer, and keeping the warmth inside the home during winter.
  • Replacement windows in DFW are Low-E — that’s required by Building Code.
  • Replacement windows in DFW offer Optional Tinting.  This is valuable on west-facing windows (and perhaps south-facing).

Click Here To See A Diagram Of Typical Low-E Window Glass Panes: Diagram Of Low-E Window

NOTE: If You Are Interested In Buying Modestly Priced, Vinyl, Low-E Windows, Check This Website:  Window World Of Dallas

Their Website States:

“ENERGYSTAR® Qualified SolarZone™ Vinyl Windows include:

  • UV-filtering Low-E Glass
  • Insulating Argon Gas between the glass panes
  • A warm-edge spacer between the glass and the frame.”

NOTES:

  • Al’s does not sell or install new windows.
  • Al’s has no affiliation with Window World Of Dallas.
  • Al’s does not endorse any brand of replacement windows — only because we don’t have comprehensive knowledge of all vinyl windows available.
  • The link above is provided only as a courtesy to our readers.

R-Value Of Original, Single-Pane Windows Installed In Older DFW Homes

As Compared To Low-E Vinyl Windows & Insulated Drapes

The purpose of this section is to explain the R-Value (insulating value) of the metal frame, single pane glass windows installed in most older DFW homes.  We also provide R-value for vinyl windows with Low-E glass.  We are not suggesting new windows within this article — we’re only presenting the facts.  We provide less expensive and easier ways to lower cooling bills with insulating draperies.

R-Values Of Single Pane, Metal Windows In DFW Homes

Compared To Low-E Vinyl Windows

  • R-15:  Exterior wall R-Value required by Texas Building Code.
  • R-.85:  Single-Pane GLASS PANE R-Value (less than R-1)
  • R-.65: Uninsulated metal FRAME (less than R-1)
  • R-3.8: Double-Pane + Low-E GLASS PANE. **
  • R-2.0: Non-Insulated, vinyl window FRAME. ***
  • R-2.3: Insulated vinyl window FRAME. ***
  • A window’s frame represents only a small portion of the entire window-assembly’s surface and insulating value.
  • Most vinyl windows have a “Warm Edge Spacer” located where the glass is attached to the window frame.
  • This helps insulate the frame from the colder / hotter glass panes.

** Source (Glass): https://www.allweatherwindows.com/the-pros/architect/glass-performance-chart/

*** Source (Frame): http://air-titewindows.com/portfolio/faqs/

Insulating / Thermal Curtains Provide Up To R-5

 And Can Lower Cooling Bills More Than Most New Windows

 Click On Image To: View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Shown: Curtain Valance

 Click On Image To: View Product, Read Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Shown: Curtain / Drapery Panels

 

When Completely Closed — Thermal Drapes Have An R-Value Of R-3 to R-5.  **

** Source:  https://homereference.net/do-thermal-curtains-work/

 

Some insulating curtains (when closed) are more energy-efficient than many vinyl, low-e windows. ** Insulating draperies can easily lower cooling bills as much as new Low-E windows. If you have the old, metal, single-pane glass windows — you will lower cooling bills even more.  Insulating draperies can be added over Low-E windows for maximum energy efficiency.

NOTE: Insulating draperies are most effective when they reach both the ceiling & the floor  -or-  with a valance over them at the ceiling.  If draperies are open at the top or bottom — cold air from the glass drops downward to the floor.  This causes warm air (near the ceiling) to be pulled in– to replace the cold air that’s dropping.  An 8 foot ceiling requires 96″ curtains – or – 84″ (7 feet) plus a valance at least 12″ long.

NOTE: You won’t likely find R-Value ratings for thermal / insulating curtains.  If they say they’re insulating — the most you can do is assume they will reduce heat gain / loss better than curtains without that description.  It’s possible that more expensive curtains may have more insulating value — but that’s no guarantee.

NOTE: What’s the difference between thermal or blackout curtains

  • The primary function of thermal curtains is insulating.
  • The primary function of blackout curtains is to make the room quite dark during the daytime.

Note:

  • During summer — lower cooling costs by adding and closing insulating drapes on west & south facing windows.
  • Where sun does not shine directly through the glass (like a north exposure) — there is no sun-generated heat coming through the windows during summer.
  • During winter, insulating curtains provide the most benefit on north-facing windows.
  • During winter, you lower heating bills with insulating drapes on north facing windows. 
  • The most benefit is achieved when the draperies are always closed.  If open during the day, it’s best to close curtains when the sun set during winter.

 

Attic Insulation

measuring insulation level in attic

Image Source: ShutterStock

Adding insulation (as needed) will pay itself in a few years through lower cooling & heating costs.   Blown attic insulation is quick and easy to add.  Thicker attic insulation also reduces noise entering the home through the roof & ceilings.

Texas Homes Insulation Levels That Were Common — Or Became Required By Building-Code:

           Attic Insulation                                 Wall Insulation

  • 1950’s:         none                                     none
  • 1965-1970: R-13 (3.5″ BATT)              R-6 (2″ BATT)
  • 1970’s:         R-19 (6  ″ BATT)               R-6  (2″ BATT)     *3
  • 1980’s:        R-30 (9″  Blown)               R-13 (3.5″ BATT) *4
  • 2014:           R-38 (15″ Blown)               R-15                        *5
  • *3 Source: https://snuggpro.com/blog/item/many-homes-built-prior-to-1980-were-built-without-insulation-in-the-walls
  • *4 Source: https://www.jlconline.com/how-to/insulation-code-change_o
  • *5 As required by the 2012 Edition of the International Building Code (IBC)

 

Click Here To Read Our Entire Article: Lower Heating & Cooling Costs With Attic Insulation

 

Today, TX Building Code Requires R-38 Attic Insulation

Texas’ Current Building Code requires R-38.  Below we use the midpoint of the Department Of Energy’  recommended R-45 attic insulation for Zone 3 (which includes DFW).

  • 6″ batt of insulation = R-19.
  • 1 inch of blown fiberglass insulation = R-3.25.
  • R-19:  A 6 inch batt fiberglass insulation.
  • R-38: A 6-inch batt of fiberglass insulation, ADD +6 inches of blown fiberglass insulation
  • If no insulation exists — ADD + 11 inches of blown fiberglass insulation for R-38.

If you use and insulating contractor — adding more insulation material will cost less than you think.  This is because the contractor is already set up and working in your attic.

The U. S. Dept. Of Energy (DOE) Recommends R-30 — R-60 for DFW / Climate Zone 3

For The Mid-Point of R-45:

  • R-19      6 inch batt fiberglass insulation
  • R-45     ADD + 8 inches of blown fiberglass insulation
  • If no insulation exists —  ADD + 14 inches of blown fiberglass insulation for R-45.

NOTE: Als’ Does Not Provide Insulating Services.

If Only 5% Of Your Attic Floor Is Not Covered With Insulation

The R-Value Of The Entire Attic’s Insulation Is Reduced By Up To 1/2!

You can lower cooling bills substantially by replacing attic insulation that was moved aside in places.  When working in the attic, it’s common for workers to kick insulation out of their way.   It’s wise to do any needed work in the attic before insulating.  After insulating, keep workers out of the attic unless it’s absolutely necessary — and check to see if they moved insulation when  finished.

With An Infrared-Thermometer — You Can Check Your Ceilings’ Temperatures While Standing On The Floor.   This allows you to determine if there is insufficient or missing insulation. 

Click On Image To: View Product, See Details, or Purchase From Amazon.com

Image Source: Amazon Product Link

You can check the temperature of your ceilings from inside your home with a Non-Contact Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer.  This allows you to determine if there is insufficient or missing insulation anywhere inside your attic. 

Click Below To See A Thermal Image Show Where Attic Insulation Is Present, And Where It’s Missing:

Thermal Image Of Missing Attic Insulation

 

An Attic Radiant-Heat Barrier Lowers Cooling Bills

By Venting Heat Outdoors Near the Roof

attic roof truss

Shown: Attic Without Radiant-Heat Barrier

Image Source: CanStockPhoto

Click Here To See A: Foil Radiant Heat-Barrier Installed.

On a hot day, you feel cooler when you’re in the shade — because the shade blocks the sun’s radiant-heat.  If it is sunny and 90 degrees outside, your home’s roof can reach 160 degrees.  The roof transfers heat deeply into the attic space — then the heat passes through the ceilings into the living-space.

Your home has attic ventilation to help remove heat & humidity.  Attic Ventilation brings outside air in and exhausts the hottest attic air, near the peak of the roof.  A foil radiant-heat barrier blocks much of the sun’s radiant-heat.  Then, it channels that heat upward toward the attic’s ventilation and outdoors.

Most DFW homes built since 1960 have roof trusses — you can see them in the photo just above.   The radiant-heat foil barrier is stapled to the bottom side of the angled boards.  There is a gap at the bottom of the foil radiant-heat barrier (for air intake) — and a gap at the top (for air exhaust).

The Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) performed radiant-heat barrier effectiveness.   With R-19 attic insulation (6″ batt-insulation) test results show that radiant-heat barriers can reduce summer heat-gain (into the living space) from 16% — 42%. **  Some of the difference in heat-gain can be attributed to the home’s orientation: East / West  VS.  North / South.

** Source: https://web.ornl.gov/sci/buildings/tools/radiant/rb2/

NOTE: Radiant-Heat Barriers are for Sunbelt-Area homes (southern 1/4 of the U.S.).

Shade Trees Over — Or Near The Roof

shade trees blocking sun off house

Shade Trees Reduce The Sun’s Radiant-Heat Getting Into Your Home’s Attic

Image Souce: ShutterStock

Shading the attic can reduce the attic temperature by up to -40 degrees.  Shading your roof from west & south sun will the most effective.  It’s not necessary that tree limbs reach over the roof, only that they shade part of all of it.  It’s likely better that limbs don’t reach over the roof due to possible damage during a storm.

If the front of your home faces west or south, you can also enhance the home’s curb-appeal and reduce cooling costs with well placed shade trees.  If the home faces east or north, the shade trees need to be in the rear lawn.

Lighter Color Roof Shingles Keep The Attic Cooler

brick home

Lighter Color Shingles Reflect More Of The Sun’s Heat.  Darker Shingles Absorb More Of The Sun’s Heat.

Image Source: ShutterStock

Lighter-colored shingles reflect more of the sun’s heat and stay cooler during the day.   This keeps attic temperatures lower, and lowers cooling bills.

For southern climates like DFW — lighter shingles’ colors reduce cooling bills.  The lighter the shingle color — the more of the sun’s heat the singles reflect (versus absorb).  The best shingle colors for reflecting the sun’s heat are; white, almond, light beige, and light gray.  The colors that absorb the most of the sun’s heat are; black, dark gray, dark brown, & dark green.

*1 Source: https://www.iko.com/na/residential/homeowner/facts-myths-about-asphalt-shingles/

Click Here To See Today’s Most Popular Roof Singles’ Colors: Most Popular Shingle Colors

 

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Al’s Plumbing, Heating & A/C in Plano, Texas provides maintenance & repairs for all brands of Central A/C, Gas & Electric Furnace, and Heat Pumps.  Additionally we sell and install new HVAC Systems from American Standard (same company as Trane), Ameristar (same company as American Standard) and Coleman HVAC (same company as York HVAC).

Al’s also provides full service plumbing maintenance, repairs and replacements for every plumbing component in your home.  Al’s sells and installs Rheem Professional Series gas & electric water heaters, and tankless water heaters.  Al’s is near your home in Allen, TX: Frisco, TX: and McKinney, TX.  We service all homes in southern Collin County TX & southern Denton County TX with no additional travel-charges.

Call Al’s today to discuss any concerns or problems you have with your HVAC System or Plumbing.  We will arrange an appointment at your c