Why should I have an energy audit?

A home energy audit is often the first step in making your home more efficient. An audit can help you assess how much energy your home uses and evaluate what measures you can take to improve efficiency. But remember, audits alone don’t save energy. You need to implement the recommended weatherization improvements to make your home more comfortable, safe, and energy efficient.

What is weatherization?

Weatherization saves energy in the home by repairing and improving the building. The goal is to increase your home’s comfort, safety, and energy efficiency by eliminating drafts. A few ways of eliminating drafts are air sealing attics and basements, weather-stripping exterior doors, insulating attic, walls, floor and perimeter, and sealing your duct system.

What is air sealing?

Air sealing is simply closing holes, cracks, and gaps where air can pass into or out of your home. On hot and cold days, you pay money to run an air conditioner or a furnace to maintain your home at a comfortable temperature. A house that leaks air costs more to be heated or cooled, because your system must work longer to “condition” the air. In addition, if you happen to sit next to one of those leaks, you are uncomfortable because the room may feel hotter or colder due to drafts. Sealing the air leaks to your living area (or envelope) will help you maintain your home at a comfortable temperature all year long and help lower energy bills.

The biggest holes are most often found in the attic and the basement. Caulk, spray foam, weather stripping and insulation are the most common materials used for air sealing.

Isn’t it better to let your home “breathe” than to build it “too tight”?

Energy efficient homes receive fresh air through the installation of mechanical ventilation systems. Concerns about homes being built “too tight” have stemmed from many homes that are built tightly “by accident” without any thought towards mechanical ventilation. Leaky homes do not provide the proper level of ventilation in the right places at the right time. Through extensive research and testing, building scientists have found that the best strategy for maximizing occupant health and comfort in homes is to “build tight and ventilate right.” With a simple, inexpensive ventilation system, a home can have a continuous, controlled supply of fresh air.

What does R-value mean?

R-value measures insulation’s resistance to heat flow. It can also be referred to as “thermal resistance.” The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. All materials having the same R-value, regardless of type, thickness, or weight, are equal in insulating power. The R-value of different insulating materials must be based on test methods established by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). Don’t forget that R-values are determined by material type, thickness, and installed weight per square foot, not by thickness alone. Insulation helps keep your home cool during the summer months and warm during the winter months.

How much will I save by adding insulation to the walls, ceilings, and floors of my home?

Insulation saves money, increases home comfort, and protects the environment by reducing energy use. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the typical U.S. family spends close to $1,500 each year on energy bills. DOE statistics show that, typically, 44% of a homeowner’s utility bill goes for heating and cooling costs. DOE states that homeowners may be able to reduce their energy bills from 10% to 50% by taking certain steps. One of the major steps is increasing the amount of thermal insulation in their existing homes or purchasing additional insulation when buying new homes.

Unless your home was constructed with special attention to energy efficiency, adding insulation will probably reduce your utility bills. The amount of energy you conserve will depend on several factors: your local climate; the size, shape, and construction of your house; the living habits of your family; the type and efficiency of the heating and cooling systems; and the fuel you use. Energy conserved is money saved, and the annual savings increase when utility rates go up. Insulation upgrades also add to the value of your home.

How much insulation should my house have?

“Insulation is the most efficient energy-saving expenditure.” Bob Vila says homeowners should check attics to determine the amount of insulation already installed. If insulation between the joists of the attic floor comes only to the top of the joist, it probably makes sense to install more insulation.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends home insulation R-values based on where you live. Be sure your new home complies with current building code requirements for insulation. These building codes establish minimum levels of insulation for ceilings, walls, floors, and basements for new residential construction.

Can insulation help reduce unwanted sound?

Yes, insulation is an efficient way to reduce unwanted sound, and it is commonly used to provide a more comfortable and quieter interior environment. Insulation effectively reduces noise transmission through floors and through interior and exterior walls.

Do I have to take out the insulation that is already there?

Not necessarily, adding more insulation has a cumulative impact on the overall quality and R-value. In walls, it is possible in some cases to install additional insulation so it compresses the existing material, completely filling the wall cavity with performance enhancing cellulose insulation. In attics, if the insulation is damaged or improperly installed, in the case of some batt products, it might make sense to replace it completely. However, in areas where spray foam insulation is going to be installed all existing cellulose or fiberglass insulation need to be removed.

With so many insulation options available, how do I know which is best for me?

There are many insulation options available. Certain products may serve to remedy different problems in different areas of the home. To best determine which product will perform the best for your home, please contact us and schedule to meet with one of our trained, knowledgeable assessors.