Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
Ask a Question or Search InspectAPedia
InspectAPedia ® Home
ENERGY SAVINGS in buildings
ACOUSTICAL SEALANT CHOICES
AIR CONDITIONING & HEAT PUMP SYSTEMS
AIR CLEANER PURIFIER TYPES
AIR FILTER EFFECTIVENESS
AIR FILTERS for HVAC SYSTEMS
AIR FILTERS, OPTIMUM INDOOR
AIR FILTERS, SOURCES FOR
AIR FILTERING STRATEGIES
AIR FILTERING CONTINUOUS FAN OPERATION
AIR FLOW MEASUREMENT CFM
AIR HANDLER / BLOWER UNITS
AIR POLLUTANTS, COMMON INDOOR
AIR LEAK MINIMIZATION
AIR LEAK SEALING PROCEDURE
AIR SEALING STRATEGIES
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BASEMENT CEILING VAPOR BARRIER
BASEMENT LEAKS, INSPECT FOR
BIOGAS PRODUCTION & USE
BLOWER DOORS & AIR INFILTRATION
BLOWER FAN CONTINUOUS OPERATION
BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING
BRICK LINED WALLS
BUCKLED FOUNDATIONS due to INSULATION?
CATHEDRAL CEILING VENTILATION
COMBUSTION AIR for TIGHT buildings
DEFINITION of Heating & Cooling Terms
DUCT SYSTEM & DUCT DEFECTS
ELECTRIC POWER, PHOTOVOLTAIC
ENERGY SAVINGS in buildings
FIREPLACES & HEARTHS
FLAT ROOF MOISTURE & CONDENSATION
FLOOR CHOICES OVER CONCRETE SLABS
FLOOR RADIANT HEAT Mistakes to Avoid
FLOOR TYPES & DEFECTS
FRAMING DETAILS for BETTER INSULATION
FRAMING DETAILS for DOUBLE WALL HOUSES
FRAMING METAL STUD PERFORMANCE
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
FROST HEAVES, FOUNDATION, SLAB
GEOTHERMAL HEATING SYSTEMS
GREEN BUILDING CODES
GREENHOUSE DESIGN for SOLAR HEATING
GREENHOUSE / SUNSPACE GLARE
HEAT LOSS RATE CALCULATIONS
HEAT LOSS DETECTION TOOLS
HEAT LOSS INDICATORS
HEAT LOSS PREVENTION PRIORITIES
HEAT LOSS R U & K VALUE CALCULATION
HEATING OIL USAGE RATE
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU Cost Table
HOUSEWRAP AIR & VAPOR BARRIERS
HOUSEWRAP INSTALLATION DETAILS
HOUSEWRAP at SILLS, SOLES, TOP PLATES
HOT ROOF DESIGNS: Un-Vented Roof Solutions
HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
ICE DAM PREVENTION
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
Insulation Air & Heat Leaks
INSULATION FACT SHEET- DOE
INSULATION for GREENHOUSE or SOLARIUM
INSULATION IDENTIFICATION GUIDE
INSULATION INSPECTION & IMPROVEMENT
KIT HOMES, Aladdin, Sears, Wards, Others
LEED GREEN BUILDING CERTIFICATION
LEED Building Designation & IAQ
LOG HOME ENERGY EFFICIENCY
LOG HOME WALL INSULATION VALUES
MOBILE HOME INSPECTIONS
MOISTURE CONTROL in BUILDINGS
RADIANT HEAT Floor Mistakes to Avoid
RADIANT HEAT TEMPERATURES
RADIANT SLAB FLOORING CHOICES
RADIANT SLAB TUBING & FLUID CHOICES
ROOF VENTILATION SPECIFICATIONS
SHEATHING, FOIL FACED - VENTS
STRESS SKIN INSULATED PANELS
STUCCO WALL METHODS & INSTALLATION
Thermal Expansion Cracking of Brick
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
THERMAL IMAGING, THERMOGRAPHY
THERMAL MASS in BUILDINGS
THERMOSTATS, HEATING / COOLING
VAPOR BARRIERS & CONDENSATION
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
WALL CONSTRUCTION BARRIER vs CAVITY
WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
WIND TURBINES & LIGHTNING
WIND WASHING INSULATION At EAVES
WINDOWS & DOORS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
WOOD, COAL STOVES & FIREPLACES
WOOD STOVE SAFETY
This article explains the basic priorities of steps to take in reducing building heating or cooling costs to obtain the maximum economic return when installing solar heating systems.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Balancing Act - how to get the most return on energy efficiency investments
I understand the importance of insulating a house before installing any solar space heating system. (See INSULATION LOCATION - WHERE TO PUT IT).
How low a Btu/hour value should I attain in a 60-year old, leaky, wood frame house before solarizing? The house is 1900 square feet, has oil / hot water heat, and is located in Maryland (4000 heating degree days).
Also, how should the basement be insulated - around its perimeter or under the first floor?
Our photo (above left) shows a building insulation retrofit project in process where the owner was removing the original brick wall lining to install building insulation. Details of that project are at BRICK LINED WALLS.
If you want to get the largest return on your investment in building energy efficiency, you should balance your expenditures on
so that your economic return is equal for each.
Whatever analysis you use to make economic decisions
you should apply the method fairly to each part of the house. How much you want to spend in total will depend on what return on your money you find acceptable.
Law of Diminishing Returns on Energy Savings Investments
In general, the first dollars invested in energy savings will bring larger returns than later dollars due to the law of diminishing returns.See ENERGY SAVINGS PRIORITIES for details.
To be fair, you should apply your cost accounting only to the energy cost of a building part, if it serves another function (for example a window decoration, structure, or added living space).
In the case of an upgraded heating system, you should consider the added cost over the conventional equipment that you would otherwise install. There is a good deal of fudging and judgment in all this and plenty of room for common sense.
Placement of Basement Insulation
As for basement insulation, either approach will work. Of course, if you want a heated basement you should insulate the perimeter. Also, if you insulate the floor above the basement, you increase the risk of freezing pipes in the basement.
If the basement is mostly below grade and has no leaky doors and windows, this shouldn't be a problem in your climate.
The question-and-answer article about energy savings investment strategy when adding solar heat, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.
The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is preceded above by an expanded/updated online version of this article.
Readers should also see ENERGY SAVINGS PRIORITIES and see the collection of energy saving articles at ENERGY SAVINGS in buildings. Our page top photograph shows solar panels, both photovoltaic and domestic hot water heating systems, on a rooftop in Surprise, Arizona. The accompanying text is reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Use the search box below to ask a question or to search the InspectApedia.com website.
Ask a Question or Enter Search Terms in the InspectApedia search box just below.
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.