Monique O’Grady from the Alliance to Save Energy is eager to help you save money by ensuring that your house is properly insulated and sealed. This will lower your energy costs as well as reduce your carbon footprint. In a time when everyone is concerned about the money they’re paying for energy bills as well as about climate change, this is all good news!
Houses leak energy!
The Environmental Protection Agency notes that typical American
homes have enough leaks that it’s roughly the same as having one window open year-round, winter and summer alike! Who knew? But it’s a problem that can be fixed if you have your home audited for proper insulation. Get a professional in if possible (in many communities, there are agencies that will perform an energy audit for you for free; ask your local energy board or even town or city government for help); they can best pinpoint where your problems are. Have them check attics, crawl spaces, walls, and floors. Once you know where your house is leaking energy you can begin to address the problem. You’ll probably end up with a number of projects to take on to seal up your house, some of which you can take care of yourself, and some of which will require that you hire a contractor to help you.
Do it yourself
If you are installing insulation yourself, O’Grady says, “make sure to apply it evenly with no hills and valleys.” What you want to do is start with the attic and work your way down to the cellar or basement. Attic air sealing and adding insulation are do-it-yourself projects if your attic is accessible and not too difficult to move around in.
Be careful! Some attics have vermiculite insulation, which can contain asbestos, a health hazard. Don’t disturb vermiculite insulation unless you’ve had it tested by an approved lab to be sure it doesn’t contain asbestos. You can contact your local health department for the name of an approved lab.
Locating leaks can be difficult because they’re often hidden. In cold weather, warm air rises in your house, just like it does in a chimney. This air (air that you’ve which you’ve paid to heat) is wasted as it rises up into your attic and sucks cold air in all around your home — around windows, doors, and through holes into the basement. You need to seal all of these leaks with cocking and weather stripping.
So you need to go through the house, room by room, looking at all the windows and the doors, at the wall cracks and the outlets. These are all places where outside air can come in and make both heating and air conditioning work harder, which increases your energy consumption and wastes your money.
O’Grady says that insulating and sealing air leaks will save you roughly 20% on your energy bills. That’s a significant amount of money! Depending on the size of your house, it can mean a savings of $1,000 a year or more.
You’ll not just be saving money, but you’ll be helping reduce general energy consumption, which is good for the planet. And, finally, you’ll be more comfortable! So there’s no reason not to do it.