Energy Efficiency for the Family

By: Danny Lipford
Exterior of house with vinyl siding and gable front porch.

The outside of Chelsea and Brandon’s house.

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Saving energy and lowering your utility bills always makes sense, but it’s especially important for a young family with their first child on the way.

The fact that the young family in question consists of my daughter, Chelsea, her husband, Brandon, and my soon-to-be granddaughter, made this home improvement project extra special.

Homeowners Chelsea and Brandon Wolf.

Homeowners Chelsea and Brandon Wolf.


We first featured Chelsea’s house in Mobile, Alabama, on Today’s Homeowner when it was remodeled in 2012 for our First Time Homeowner Series. Now we’re back to give it an energy efficiency update for her growing family.

Heating/Cooling System Replacement

Carrier Infinity compressor unit outdoors.

New Carrier Infinity compressor.

The first step was to replace the old central heating and cooling unit with a new Carrier Infinity® heat pump system. The three-ton, variable speed Carrier Infinity 18VS Heat Pump (model 25VNA8) we selected is both energy efficient (up to 18 SEER cooling and 11.0 HSPF heating), has a small footprint, and is very quiet.

An Infinity Touch control—which can be accessed remotely by smartphone, tablet, or computer—was installed to control the temperature, humidity, ventilation, and airflow in the house.

Rather than installing the entire heating/cooling unit outdoors and using the existing ductwork under the house, our HVAC contractor—Steve Davies of Davies Air Design—suggested locating the new system and ductwork in the attic and using a hall closet for the air return. That way only the small compressor unit would be visible outdoors.

Carrier Infinity Touch control on wall.

Carrier Infinity Touch control.

This approach made the system more energy efficient and improved the indoor air quality, but it required cutting holes in the ceiling for the new registers and filling in the holes in the floor from the old registers with flooring that matched the existing floors in the house.

Patching Register Holes in Floor

To patch the holes in the wood floor, an oscillating cutting tool was used to cut staggered joints in the wood flooring around the registers. After the register holes had been filled with plywood, pieces of tongue-and-groove wood flooring were cut and fit in place.

Once the wood had been stained and finished, the repair was almost invisible.

Patching hole in wood floor.

Danny Lipford patching register hole in wood floor.

To fill the hole in the tile floor in the kitchen, a rotary tool was used to remove the grout around the tiles. A chisel and hammer were then used to break up and remove the tiles and the hardened adhesive underneath.

After the hole had been filled with plywood, new tiles were installed using thin-set adhesive. When the adhesive had hardened, grout was applied to the tile joints.

Watch How to Replace a Tile to find out more.

Remodeling projects can generate a lot of dust, so it’s important to contain and limit it as much as possible. Read our article on Keeping the Dust Down to find out more.

Man in white jumpsuit installing Roxul stone wool insulation in crawlspace.

Installing Roxul stone wool insulation in crawlspace.

Insulating Floor Under House

To make the house even more energy efficient, we installed Roxul stone wool insulation between the floor joists under the house. Tension wires were used to hold the insulation in place.

Stone wool insulation is perfect for this job, since it repels water, doesn’t contribute to mold or fungal growth, and is fire resistant.

Watch Insulating Under Floors and read How to Insulate a Crawlspace to find out more.

To keep busy while all the work was going on, Chelsea made custom Roman shades for her daughter’s room. Watch How To Make Roman Shades to find out more.

Other Tips from This Episode

Cleaning lint from inside clothes dryer.

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Clothes Dryer Tips

When cleaning the lint screen in your clothes dryer, use the crevice tool on a vacuum cleaner to clean inside the lint trap slot. To dry clothes faster, put a dry towel in the dryer with each load of wash to absorb any excess moisture. (Watch Video)

Holding GE Bright Stik LED Light Bulb

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
GE Bright Stik LED Light Bulb

GE Bright Stik LED Light Bulbs are affordable, last for up to 13 years, provide 760 lumens of light instantly, and are 83% more energy efficient than incandescent light bulbs. GE Bright Stik LED bulbs are available at The Home Depot. (Watch Video)

Filling hole with expanding spray foam.

Ask Danny Lipford:
Energy Saving Tips

There are a number of ways to reduce your energy bills, including replacing your heating/cooling system, water heater, or windows with energy efficient items. Smaller projects include filling gaps, installing weather stripping, and replacing thresholds. (Watch Video)

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Energy Efficiency for the Family