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75+ Ways To Lower Cooling 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 Bills (& 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.

Window Film Is A Very Effective Way To Lower Cooling Bills In DFW

You can lower cooling bills with any combination of the suggestions within this suggestion article.  Some upgrades will likely require professional installation.  Others are easy Do It Yourself efforts.

 

Window Films come In Two Versions; Removable Or Permanently Installed.

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

Image Source: Amazon Embedded Link

Insulating films reject up to 80% of the sun’s heat during summer, and retain up to 55% of the home’s heat during winter.  Insulating  or reflecting window films are affordable, energy-efficient improvements for existing single-pane windows that will certainly lower cooling bills.   Insulating Films often pay for themselves in less than 1 year through lower cooling bills & reduced 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. 

NOTE:

  • For single-pane windows, interior window-film can also be used.
  • Interior installed films on dual-pane glass is not recommended.  It causes heat build up between the pains which can damage the glass panes’ seals (then they fog up).
  • If you have Low-E glass, there is no benefit from adding window-film, plus it might void the warranty.  Low-E windows have a layer of film inside the panes.
  • 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.

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, Go To:  Window World Of Dallas

Their Website States:

ENERGYSTAR® Qualified SolarZone™ Vinyl Windows include:

  • UV-filtering Low-E Glass
  • Insulating Argon Gas between the panes
  • The InterceptTMWarm Edge Spacer System between the glass and the frame.

NOTES:

  • We do not sell or install new windows.
  • We have no affiliation with Window World Of Dallas.
  • We do not promote nor endorse Window World products — 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 DFW Homes

As Compared To Vinyl Windows & Insulated Drapes

The purpose of this section is to explain the R-Value of existing, metal frame, single pane glass windows — as compared to new vinyl windows with Low-E glass.  We are not suggesting new windows within this article.  We are only presenting the facts.  We give less expensive and easier ways to lower cooling bills that replacing windows.

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

Compared To Low-E Vinyl Windows

  • R-.85:  Single Pane GLASS R-Value (less than R-1)
  • R-.65: Uninsulated metal FRAME R-Value less than R-1)
  • R-3.8: Double Pane, Low-E GLASS R-Value **
  • R-2.0: Non-Insulated, vinyl window FRAME R-Value 2.0 ***
  • R-2.3: Insulated (Foam-Filled) vinyl window FRAME R-Value ***
  • A window’s frame represents only a small amount of the entire window-assembly’s 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 Draperies Provide Up To R-7, And Can Lower Cooling Bills As Much As Most New Windows

R-7 is nearly double that of a new, vinyl, low-e window (glass + frame).   If you have metal, single-panel glass windows, you will lower cooling bills even more.  These draperies can be added over Low-E windows, for nearly R-10.  As compared, Texas requires R-15 walls for new homes built in the DFW area.   Insulating draperies can easily lower cooling bills as much as new Low-E windows.

Note:

  • During summer, you lower cooling costs by adding insulating drapes to west & south facing windows.
  • If the sun does not shine directly through the glass (like a north exposure), there is no sun-generated heat coming through that window.
  • During winter, you lower heating bills with insulating drapes on north facing windows.
  • The most benefit is achieved if the draperies are always closed.  If open during the day, close at dusk during winter.

Attic Insulation

measuring insulation level in attic

Image Source: ShutterStock

The energy savings from adding insulation (if needed) will pay for the insulation in a few years through lower cooling bills.   Attic insulation is quick and easy to add.  Also, thicker attic insulation muffles more outside noise entering the home through the roof & ceilings.  PLUS it saves year-round by lowering heating costs.

In Our Article (link below) We State:

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 The Entire Article: Lower Heating & Cooling Costs With Attic Insulation

 

Today, TX Building Code Requires R-38 Attic Insulation

TX Building Code requires R-38.  We will use the Department Of Energy mid-point of R-45 attic insulation for Zone 3.

  • A 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 + 6 inches of blown fiberglass insulation
  • If no batt insulation exists, 11 inches of blown fiberglass insulation is needed for R-.38.

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

(DOE) Recommendation For DFW Attic Insulation Of R-30 – 60

For The Mid-Point of R-45:

  • R-19      6 inch batt fiberglass insulation
  • R-26  + 8 inches of blown fiberglass insulation
  • If no batt insulation exists, 14 inches of blown fiberglass insulation are needed for R-45.

NOTE: We Do Not Provide Insulation Services.

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

The Overall R-Value Of The Entire Attic’s Insulation Is Reduce 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 people to kick insulation out of their way.   It’s wise to do all 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 out of their way.

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

 

Attic Radiant-Heat Barrier Can Lower Cooling Bills

By Stopping Heat From Entering Deeply Into The Attic

attic roof truss

Shown: Common Attic Roof Truss

Image Source: CanStockPhoto

When you are outside on a hot day, you feel cooler when you are 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.  Then the roof acts like a radiator, passing through the roof and moving deeply into the attic space.

Your home has attic ventilation to help remove heat & humidity.  Attic Ventilation brings outside air in and exhausts the hottest air near the peak of the roof.  A foil radiant-heat barrier helps block much of the radiant heat from entering more deeply within the attic (beyond the foil).  Then the radiant heat barrier channels the hottest air in the attic toward the ventilation.

With a common, foil radiant-heat barrier, the hottest air in the attic mostly remains between the roof deck (what the shingles are nailed to) and the heat barrier (which is nailed to the the bottom side of the roof truss component.   This ensures the hottest air in the attic is promptly channeled to the peak of the roof and is ventilated outdoors.

Most DFW homes built since 1960 0have roof trusses.  The exception is if the attic is to remain available for future additional living space.   You can see roof trusses in the photo just above.   The truss components are the angled boards going to the peak of the roof.   The roof deck (with large chunks of wood going in various directions) is nailed to the top of roof rafter components.

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

 

Shade Trees Over, Or Near The Roof

shade trees blocking sun off house

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

Image Souce: ShutterStock

Even more effective than a Radiant Heat Barrier are shade tree(s) preventing the sun from ever shining on the roof.   Older homes (built before A/C became common) often have shade trees near the house, particularly on the west and south side(s).

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 Help 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 helps keep attic temperatures lower, and lowers cooling bills.  To resist breakdown, roof shingles have hard mineral granules on top of an asphalt layer.  This helps block the sun’s rays.  The thickness of the asphalt layer affects the durability of shingles (better shingles have a thicker asphalt layer that makes them last longer than thinner ones).  Warranties for asphalt shingles range from 20 years up to 40 years.  Fiberglass is the reinforcement fabric that holds the shingle together.  The shingles contain asphalt as the water-resistant material.  *1

When new, roof shingles have oil in the asphalt that allows for daily expansion and contraction.  This is critical for performance and longevity.  As shingles age, the oil begins drying out.  This takes 6-12 years, and is faster in areas with hotter summers and sun intensity.  As the oil in the asphalt dries, up, the shingle become increasingly brittle.   Once brittle, the shingle is more susceptible to cracking, breaking, curling and tearing.

For southern climates like DFW, the lighter the shingles’ color, the better from an cooling costs standpoint.  The lighter the color, the more of the sun’s heat will be reflected versus absorbed.  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