Most Energy Efficient Home Heating and Cooling Systems

If your San Antonio home does not have proper attic insulation, has leaking air ducts, or needs more attic ventilation; even the most energy efficient home heating and cooling system can still be using excessive amounts of energy and wasting your money on high utility bills.

You can determine how efficient your home heating and cooling system is by scheduling a no cost home energy audit from A Cooler House San Antonio or from other professional contractors in your area that specialize in home energy efficiency.

 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

LO/MIT radiant barrier spray

What is a radiant barrier?
A radiant barrier is an energy saving product installed in the attics of homes and buildings, it is excellent at reflecting heat and poor at absorbing heat. A good example of a radiant barrier is aluminum foil that is placed on top of a casserole to keep the top from burning. It works by reflecting the heat back into the oven. A properly installed radiant barrier does the same thing in your home, reflecting the sun's heat back out of the home, reducing the heat load on your home.
Why do you use a radiant barrier spray?
LO/MIT radiant barrier spray is an innovative attic radiation control coating that reflects radiant heat. It has great advantages over previous types of radiant barriers including better coverage, it is not a vapor barrier so it will not contribute to mold, and it does not block antenna and mobile phone reception.
How does a radiant barrier work?
Radiant heat is generated by many of the things around us. In summer, the sun is the primary source of radiant energy. It heats the exterior of your home, and this heat is radiated into the interior, primarily into the attic. LO/MIT radiant barrier spray helps keep your home cool by reflecting back the sun's radiant energy and preventing heat build-up in your attic.
Won't my home's insulation do the same thing?
No. While insulation is extremely important, it will not stop radiant heat transfer. In fact, a properly installed, LO/MIT radiant barrier spray actually increases the effectiveness of your insulation, in the summer (in some cases) by as much as R-19.
What kind of testing has been performed to verify this products effectiveness?
Independent research labs in the U.S. and Europe have tested radiant barrier sprays and have confirmed their low emissivity values. LO/MIT has been used and tested by many third parties RIMA International over the past 20 years. Visit the manufacturer at www.solec.org for details.
Does this spray have an odor?
Like all paints, there is a minimal odor that dissipates within hours after application. Most homeowners will never notice any odor.
How long does this product last?
LO/MIT radiant barrier spray has the durability of a premium latex paint. While other manufacturers limit the effectiveness of their radiant barriers to 10 + years of service, LO/MIT makes no such limiting statement. LO/MIT was first installed in 1978, and the initial formula was applied to a piece of decking. It is periodically tested and the effectiveness has yet to diminish.
Does the energy-saving effect wear off over time?
As long as the underside of your roof remains relatively free from dust and grime, LO/MIT will continue to offer effective protection from the intense heat of the sun for the life of your roof decking.
How many coats of Radiant Barrier are required?
Just one. LO/MIT is a "non-thickness specific material." Thicker is NOT better. All that is needed is a uniform coat on the underside of the roof decking.
Will more than one coat increase savings?
No, only one coat is needed. Additional coats will not increase savings.
If I have a coat of radiant barrier on the underside of my roof, do I still need insulation and ventilation?
Yes. Radiant Barriers work in combination with effective insulation and proper ventilation to create the total Heat Defense System solution.

Attic Insulation

What is the benefit of insulation?
Heating and cooling systems consume 50% to 70% of the energy used in the average American home. You'll save on your energy costs if you reduce the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling. Insulation helps your home retain heat in cold weather and reject heat in warm seasons.
Doesn't my house already have insulation?
It may not have enough. In much of the housing in America, attic insulation levels are minimal at best. That's because many homebuilders only offer standard (not optimal) levels of insulation in order to maintain competitive selling prices. Couple this with the fact that older insulation tends to settle over time, so if you live in an older home, you probably need to add insulation. But even in a newer home, additional insulation will save enough money in reduced utility bills to pay for itself, and those savings will, of course, continue. Upgraded insulation will also increase the value of your house.
How does insulation work?
Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. In cold weather, it flows from heated rooms to the unheated attic, garage or basement, or to the outdoors. In hot weather, heat flows from outside your home to its interior. To maintain comfort, the heat lost in winter must be replaced by your heating system, and the heat gained in summer must be removed by your air conditioner. Insulation resists the flow of heat, preventing unwanted circulation. The living space of a well-insulated house will stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer, with less energy expenditure.
What is R-value?
The R-value rating refers to the insulation's thermal resistance - its ability to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value of thermal insulation depends on the specific type of insulation, its thickness and density. Installing more insulation in your home increases the total R-value and resistance to heat flow.
What is the best kind of attic insulation?
A Cooler House installs blown fiberglass and cellulose attic insulation. Honestly both products are good insulators.
  • Fiberglass
    • Fiberglass is very light and tends not settle over time like cellulose might.
    • Fiberglass has a R value or 3 per inch
  • Cellulose
    • Cellulose is more dense than fiberglass and therefore is a better barrier for air movement through holes in walls and ceilings.
    • Cellulose has a R value of 3.6 per inch 

Attic Ventilation

Why ventilate the attic?
The primary reason to ventilate the attic is to remove the excessive heat that can build up due to the blazing Texas sun. With attic temperatures upwards of 160 degrees, an extremely hot attic puts a tremendous "heat load" on the living space coming from the ceiling area. Attic ventilation is a cost effective method for removing this heat before it can penetrate your ceiling.
What about adding more attic insulation rather than venting?
Insulation is a very important part of your home's defense against heat intruding into the living area. But in the case of an un-vented, super-heated attic, insulation cannot stop the heat from getting through. Remember that insulation is designed to RESIST heat transfer, not STOP it. The heat will eventually get through. The best solution is to have your insulation SLOW the transfer of heat long enough for your attic vents to remove it.
What is the best way to vent my attic?
It depends. Be leery of any energy management contractor who uses only one type of attic venting system. Each home is unique. Ideally, solar powered vents are recommended for removing heat and moisture from the attic. Another method is to use an electrically powered attic vent. We also use turbines, sometimes called "whirly birds," to vent small attic areas or garages.
What are the Pros and Cons of each attic vent type?
Each vent type has its own set of features.
  • SunRise Solar Attic Vent
    • Pro: Runs year round using no electricity. Very quiet yet moves a LOT of air, over 1275 CFM. Comes on when the sun comes up.
    • Con: Does not work as well on the north side of home. This shortcoming can sometimes be overcome by putting the solar vent on a turbine base to elevate the vent.
  • Electrically Powered Pro-3 Attic Vent
    • Pro: The most powerful vent on the market, moving up to 1600 CFM. Can be installed anywhere.
    • Con: Uses electricity to operate, which offsets some of the savings of attic venting. Con: Often loud operation.
Wouldn't the most energy-efficient home be one that is the most airtight?
Controlled ventilation and air leakage are different matters. Sealing unwanted air leakage is vital to a home's energy efficiency. However, controlled ventilation in your attic is also very necessary. So ACoolerHouse seals off the attic space from the living space with expansive foam (see Building Envelope below) and/or an Attic Tent stair seal, then vents the attic area to remove the heat buildup.
How does attic ventilation improve energy efficiency?
Ventilation promotes a cooler attic in the summer and a drier attic in the winter. By exhausting heated air from the attic, a good ventilation system will help keep the rest of the house cooler with less energy usage. In cold months, ventilation prevents moisture build-up in the attic. As warm, moist air rises into a cold attic, it can condense under the roof deck, causing the decking and shingles to distort and deteriorate. Excessive heat and excessive moisture can both lead to serious roof damage.
Where does that moisture come from?
It comes from normal household activities, such as showers, laundering and cooking - activities that can release as much as two and a half gallons of water vapor a day. If this water vapor becomes trapped in the attic, it can cause roof decking and shingles to warp and distort. Lack of appropriate ventilation can void your home warranty.
What kind of ventilating system is used in the Home Comfort Solution by ACoolerHouse?
The Home Comfort Solution uses a variety of attic exhaust methods plus vented soffits under the eaves for intake air. Based on years of experience, the best exhaust vent is the SunRise Solar attic vent, which moves 1250 CFM of air using only the power of the sun.
How does the vent system work?
As the sun comes up, the solar panel on the SunRise Solar converts the suns light into "free" electricity, running the fan to remove the air as it BEGINS to warm up. As the sun increases in intensity, the fan reaches its maximum speed, increasing the air flow thus keeping the attic "heat bubble" from forming. As the sun sets, the fan speed decreases, thus not drawing moisture laden evening air into the attic. And because the SunRise Solar uses a 20 watt solar panel, it even runs on cloudy days. The end result is that the attic is ventilated during the hottest part of the day, reducing the heat load on the home, making the home more comfortable and cost efficient to own. All without using ANY other power source than the sun to run the fan.
What is the biggest advantage of this approach?
Instead of energy-consuming electrical fans, this system uses only the sun's energy to move air. It's highly efficient and costs nothing to run, paying for itself in as little as 5 years.

Solar Window Screens

Why install solar screens?
Windows that are in direct sunlight allow a significant amount of heat and UV radiation into the home. Solar screens are a cost affective way to address this issue. Properly manufactured and installed solar screens reduce the heat coming through the windows while at the same time virtually eliminating UV radiation that can damaged drapes, furniture and flooring.
I've heard about window film or window tint. Why not use that instead?
There are times to use window film, but as a general rule, solar screens out perform window film. The primary reason to use window film would be in a situation where you did not want to change the "look" of your home, as when solar screens are installed on the front of a home. The effect of the solar screens can be changed by installing a solar screens with exterior grids, that match the mutton bars in your windows. The other reason I don't like window film is because when it is installed on thermal windows, the manufacturer will NOT cover the thermal window unit under their warranty. Most of the window film manufacturers will pick up the REMANING warranty left on the windows, but you have to ask yourself WHY the manufacturer will not cover the window under warranty? The reason is because the film, being located on the INSIDE of the glass, allows a tremendous amount of heat to build-up inside the thermal pane, which sometimes causes pre-mature thermal unit failure. Other reasons for not using film include the fact that film can scratch and sometimes change color.

Building Envelope

What about air leakage from the home into the attic?
A properly constructed home has a barrier between the living area of the home and the attic. If your home is not so constructed, we have a solution. ACoolerHouse is now a ZeroDraft authorized contractor for the state of Texas. This allows ACH to properly secure the building envelope of your home to insure the very best performance of your home both in energy efficiency, but also in overall comfort as well as indoor air quality.
What do you do to stop air leakage from the home or in some cases into the home?
Our experienced estimators will survey your home looking for indicators of air leakage. The most common culprits are as follows:
  1. AC ducts and plenums - all duct joints should be properly sealed including the duct boots at the ceiling plane.
  2. Attic Access Stairs - using an Attic Tent, we both insulate but also air seal the pull down stairs.
  3. Recessed Light Fixtures - we install a duct board box over the recessed light and foam it to the sheetrock, eliminated air leakage while not affecting the performance of the light.
  4. Exterior light and outlets - by installing air sealing gaskets behind all the covers.
  5. Weather-stripping all doors and windows - using our proprietary weather-stripping.
  6. Plumbing and Electrical Penetrations - using one part or two part polyurethane foam.

Savings - Return on Investment

How much energy can I save?
The amount of energy conserved depends on several factors, including your local climate; the size, shape, and construction of your house; the living habits of your family; the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems; and the fuel you use. According to a national survey of building improvements, you can save 10-20% on your heating bills just through improved insulation alone, so it's reasonable to expect even higher savings through the combination of insulation, ventilation and spray on radiant barrier.
How soon will I see a return on my investment?
The average payback for installing the Home Comfort Solution System in your home is 2 to 4 years. As utility rates increase, the payback period will decrease, making this already-attractive investment in your home even more compelling.
What guarantees do you offer?
We offer a simple, straightforward and iron-clad service guarantee: If we don't perform any aspect of an installation to your total satisfaction, we will re-do that portion of the project until it's right, and we will refund to you any additional cost associated with that particular job.

General

What about the materials you use?
They are all covered by their respective manufacturers' guarantees (radiant barrier, lifetime; ventilation, lifetime/5 years; insulation, lifetime).
  1. LO/MIT radiant barrier carries an ASTM certification, assuring you that it meets their exacting specifications for interior radiation control coatings.
  2. Super Cyclone Solar Vents - tempered glass panel, with the panel embedded in the glass. The panel has an expected service life of 25 years. All brackets and bolts are all stainless steel for years of rust-free service. The case is constructed for impact resistant, UV stabilized ABS.
  3. Cellulose Insulation - guaranteed to meet or exceed the stated R rating.
  4. Solar Screens - 1" metal frames (others use ¾") with internal metal connectors (others use exposed plastic corner connectors) and Phifer SunTex solar screen, which carries a 10 year manufacturers warranty.

 


A Cooler House San Antonio

Energy Saving Products and Services,

San Antonio Radiant Barrier and Attic Insulation Installers San Antonio, Texas

 

Serving: San Antonio and Surrounding Areas

 

For service and installation call

(888) 399-2665 Toll Free

 

 

Click here to see our two page pamphlet
on The Anatomy of A Cooler House (pdf)

 

Radiant Barrier, Attic Insulation, Solar Attic Fans

 

 

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