Posts Tagged ‘energy audit’

Energy Audit & Efficient-izing My Home: TO DOs

Visit Home Green Home's Website

Two weeks ago I invited Joe Page, Home Performance Specialist from Home Green Home, into my home to take a look around and tell me what I could do to make my home more energy-efficient. According to the company, our homes consume 60% of the energy that people consume and 20-40% of that energy is wasted; I wanted to fix these problems as soon as possible and especially before our first St. Louis winter in our new home. The energy audit took about an hour and a half and included a blower door test, thermal photography, visual and smoke inspections, and combustion safety analyses.

I knew my new home wasn’t efficient—it’s rarely comfortable in every room at the same time—but I laughed a little after the blower door test when Joe told me how much our house leaked air. An efficient home replaces about 25-30% of its air an hour, he said. Mine? 104%. Not the worst Joe had seen, but not good.

We couldn’t get into the attic (no entryway—I know; our new house is strange in other ways, too), but he showed me thermal images showing that there was, in fact, insulation in the slanted ceiling walls, though he couldn’t be for certain whether anyone installed insulation in the top of the roof.

Part of the air problem, he told me, lies with a lack of insulation between the lower portion of the gable roof and the inside of our home. We’d need to either attempt to create a block, seal it, and spray paper insulation around it—a challenging and probably messy but not impossible DIY task—or let a professional handle that one.

Things we could do ourselves:

  • Seal the leaks in our HVAC duct system (okay, technically he didn’t suggest this because I knew it needed doing  and so took care of this a week before he came by)
  • Install an insulation blanket around our gas water heater and add pipe insulation to the first five feet of hot and cold water lines (check!)
  • expanding foam sealant around a hose

    I sprayed expanding foam sealant in a large gap in the wood paneling around a hose in my utility room. After it dried I used my fingers to break off the pieces that stuck out. Not the prettiest job, I know, but it was quick...and it's in my utility room anyway.

    Caulk gaps in window and door trim and sills and spray and expanding foam sealant in larger gaps such as in the hole made in the wood paneling for our dryer (check!)

  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on the second floor (check! we already had one on the first floor)
  • Have a qualified HVAC contractor install a return register on the second floor
  • Insulate around the outlets and switches on outside walls and the switch in our stairway (optional) (check! This is nitpicking, he said, but I did it anyway)

Other things I’m taking into account: the safety of the foam crack and gap sealant. The foam Joe recommended, Great Stuff, had danger warning all over it, and one thing I know about those warnings is that companies don’t want to put them on there unless they have too, and governmental regulatory agencies, affected by politics, tells a company when they must put a label in a product. If a warning says “use gloves” or “use in a well ventilated area,” take heed. I looked for a safer, more environmentally sound foam sealant and I found a foam at sears called Max Fill. It had fewer warnings, made with renewable resources and less petroleum, and claimed to be an eco-friendly air sealing foam. I don’t know if I’d call it eco-friendly, but I would call it a better option than my alternative. As the can prescribed, I wore gloves and safety glasses. (If you know of a better expanding foam sealant, please let me know in the comments.)

Up For Discussion

Does a safe, eco-friendly expanding foam sealant exist? How about joint compound? What other home improvement products have a safe, safer, or eco-friendly equivalent?

%d bloggers like this: