When most people think of home energy efficiency improvements, the first thing that comes to mind is replacing the windows. Unfortunately, that is the most expensive and least money-saving option you could choose.
If you’re really looking to make your home more comfortable and save money, your best bet is to have it professionally air sealed. This means caulking, covering and blocking any penetration to the walls, floors and ceilings throughout your home.
If you added up all the air leaks in your home and combined them together, it would equal the size of 2’ x 2’ hole being open in your home year-round. That’s a lot of money you’re losing. In fact, home energy experts say that approximately 30% of your energy bills are due to air leakage.
Surprised? It’s true. What you can’t see is costing you money and making your home uncomfortable.
The good news is that the fix is easy and affordable. Moreover, you’ll recognize the benefits immediately, both on your energy bills and in the comfort of your home.
To best way to ensure your home is air sealed properly is to have a professional conduct an energy assessment of your home. This is a process whereby the energy specialist depressurizes your home using special equipment in order to find all the hidden leaks. The energy specialist will also look at the amount of insulation in your attic, your appliances, lighting, duct work, HVAC system and many other things to help improve your home’s energy efficiency. But, for now, we’ll focus on just air sealing.
Most homes in the United States are under insulated and built without any consideration given to air sealing. So, finding all the air leaks can be tricky. They are often hidden and sometimes
require professional equipment to detect. However, once your energy specialists has completed his energy assessment and found them, there are many different ways they can be sealed depending on the nature of the leak.
Common problems include attic fans, recessed lights, plumbing chases, not enough insulation in the attic, duct work that has come apart and so on. The cost to correct these problems vary based on each home. Your energy specialist will provide you with a detailed report outlining the improvements and your return on investment for each measure. Often times, this will include a gradual approach by which you take care of the worst problems first and work your way to the least.
Properly air sealing your home can save you up to 30% on your energy bills and result in a more comfortable and healthy home with less dust and allergens. Because of this, air sealing is by far the most important step to take when making your home more energy efficient. Even older furnaces and air conditioners will run less if your home is more air tight. It will also pay for itself quickly, which means you won’t be out a lot of money with little benefit. Most of all, you’ll begin feeling the difference immediately, especially during the cold season.
Remember, what you can’t see may be costing you money. Also, check with your electric and gas utility to see if they offer any rebates or incentives for energy efficiency measures; many do. For more information on utility incentives in your area, go to http://www.dsireusa.org. To schedule an energy assessment for your home, visit www.smartenergy.us.