This is a perfect time to make some changes to your home. Even minor changes can have a huge impact on your comfort level and reduce your energy bills. Another benefit, you are helping the environment. How can I do this you ask, read on.
Finding Leaks: To get started, you need to review your home’s insulation system. Most local utility companies will visit your home and conduct a thorough energy assessment. This can include a blower door test where the home is pressurized and the number of air exchanges are measured, or an infrared camera scan which can show cold spots. Once the leaks are identified, a plan to address them is discussed. Some common issues are inadequate door and window seals and insufficient insulation in the attic.
Ceilings and Walls: Insufficient insulation can be hiding behind ceilings and walls. Older homes were built when the building codes for insulation were not as stringent. One simple check for proper insulation is to touch the wall or ceiling; any area that feels colder than others may be lacking insulation. Outlets and switches in exterior walls are common sources for poor insulation. Careful use of spray foam around these exterior electrical boxes works well. Purchased gaskets can also be used that are placed under the cover plate.
Ducts: If your basement or crawl space allows access to the duct work, ensuring the connections are good and joints are sealed can save roughly 10% by minimizing lost heating or cooling air. Tuning your HVAC system for winter and summer can also help. For example, in the summer, close all registers in the basement. If you have a two story home, close the registers in the basement and registers in any first floor rooms not being used. This forces cool air to the second floor bedrooms.
Fireplaces: When not in use, keep the damper closed, winter or summer. Use glass doors over the opening.
Penetrations for Plumbing, Electrical, HVAC: In most homes, pipes and wires enter the home above the ground through the band or rim joist. The band (or rim) joist is the area of the basement wall where the floor joists connect to a wood board just above the concrete foundation Check the perimeter of your home to see where pipes are exposed on outside walls. From the inside, caulk or use spray foam to seal around these penetrations.
Doors and Windows: Gaps between a window or door frame and the wall framing is one of the biggest heat-loss offenders. These can be corrected by removing the trim and spraying foam in the gap between the window or door frame and the wall studs. In older homes, there is little or no insulation in this area. For an exterior door, a hollow core door is not only inefficient it is unsafe. All exterior doors should be at least insulated steel with a lockset and deadbolt. A cracked window pane or a faulty window seal can affect the efficiency of the window and should be repaired.
Furnace Air Filters: Filters need to be quality products, not the least expensive filters available. Depending on the type of filter, they may need to be changed every month or at least every season. If you neglect the filters, the furnace (or AC) will work much harder which consumes more energy and reduces the life expectancy of the device.
Caulking and Insulation: Caulking around windows and doors provides a seal against the weather. Insulation is the best home improvement you can do for your home. Adding insulation to the attic is like adding a blanket to the bed in the winter. In my opinion, blown cellulose is the best insulation to add to the attic. It is made of recycled newspapers with a fire retardant added. Blown fiberglass should not be used in the attic as it has known issues with heat loss. If your basement is accessible, using close cell spray foam on the band or rim joist is a great solution as it seals every crack and crevice. This area is commonly insulated with fiberglass insulation but it is not very efficient. If you use open cell spray foam, a fire retardant paint should be applied once the foam dries.
By making some or all of these changes, you can increase the comfort level in your home and reduce your energy bills. In some situations, just adding insulation in the attic can reduce your energy bills by over 25%. That’s amazing!
As always, I am here and ready to help you with any of your home remodeling needs. If you have further questions, please go to the About page and send a request or give me a call at 734.646.8626!