I usually don’t work on remodels and additions, unless is a gut rehab, to make the house a zero energy home. This process is expensive, and usually the return on investment is very poor.
If you are looking to remodel, update and improve your existing home, and updating your resilience, the State of Texas, already has an offering of local, state and federal programs that promote energy efficiency and renewable energy. You can look at all the available programs in Texas, and across the country, at DSIRE.ORG, and see if there something there you can apply to. Some of these programs may still be active or may have changed, but it’s a good start. Here is a noble idea, contact your local legislator and ask about these programs, or something similar.
Here is a list of things, I suggest, you may want to do and prepare your home for the next climate disaster. We all know, it’s not if, but in what form, and when.
- If you don’t know where to start, consult with a Building Inspector. Check for a Certified BPI Professional or an independent building inspector, to do an Energy Audit. They can tell you about your deficiencies and how to correct them.
- Seal, Seal and Seal. Here is an Energy Star DIY Check and Inspections. Sealing the building envelope means to seal all openings, like doors, windows, can lights, outlets, switches and all penetrations on walls, attics, crawl spaces, basements, etc.
- Seal the attic floor and all penetrations, and then add insulation; the more the better.
- Hire an expert to assess the best way to protect the HVAC system and water heater from freezes if they are located in an unconditioned attic, crawl space or an unheated garage.
- Install energy efficient windows, or even storm windows can be a good option.
- Improve your lighting to high-efficacy, like compact fluorescent or LEDs. Use fans. Use motion sensors and power strips.
- Replace old appliances with new Energy Star, including the hot water tank.
- Make your water supply more efficient by installing low-flow plumbing fixtures.
- Check your HVAC system. Replace filters every three months. Seal, insulate and clean ducts.
- Seal your crawl space, either with full encapsulation or by installing a combination of closed cell spray foam or rigid foam, and fluffy insulations. Weatherize all pipes.
- Consider a gas generator.
- Before you consider a solar PV system, DO ALL OF THE ABOVE FIRST! The more efficient you make your house, the smaller the PV system is needed, and the less cost will be.
Here are a few great websites, with FREE INFORMATION, for you to become more educated:
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Building Performance Institute – BPI