Weatherization Techniques That Will Save You The Most Money

Posted on January 3rd, 2011 by

Weatherizing a home correctly involves assessing the home’s performance, professionally installing solutions, and guaranteeing the work that is done. Customers must take the right steps to ensure that their return on improving the home exceeds their investment.  This value proposition goes beyond financial savings. The additional benefits of weatherization may include comfort, air-quality, safety, durability, reliability, and efficiency gains.

Each and every weatherization improvement should engage the services of a trusted certified advisor who will ensure the solution delivers exceptional value. Consider this analogy; a doctor does not write a prescription without evaluating the patient. They take the time to examine the patient and order additional tests as necessary. They help us make an informed decision as to how to treat our condition. A home being weatherized is no different. Determining how much insulation and air sealing is needed, where and how it should be installed, if the windows and doors need replacing, if the HVAC system is appropriate and operating properly, and other such assessments requires the diagnostic capabilities of a professional.

Weatherization begins with a customer meeting with a weatherization company to discuss the issues that are taking place in the home. Next, the company’s advisors begin testing the home.  Tests will include the house pressure testing (also known as blower door testing), duct testing, combustion appliance testing, and infrared scanning.  The results of these tests will be analyzed with advanced software to determine how the house can be most effectively improved. These solutions are presented to the homeowner in a customized plan that articulates how to best maximize efficiency and comfort, while minimizing cost.  These detailed plans do not come from guessing or a simple visual survey, but from taking the time to do a proper assessment and analysis.

These plans will address the following areas:

●    Insulation >> Infrared cameras reveal where conditioned air is leaking through the attic, walls, and basement.  This data helps to determine the right type, and amount of insulation to add to reduce heat from moving and improve the home’s insulation.

Insulation keeps cool air inside during the summer the same way it keeps warm air inside during the winter.  A home that has insulation is a much more energy-efficient home than one that doesn’t. After insulation is properly placed, a home’s utility bills will decline.

●    Heating and Cooling >> Big appliances don’t mean bigger performance.  If an HVAC system is too large for a home, it may never run at optimum efficiency. If the system is too small, then it might not keep you comfortable and frequent HVAC services may be needed. Ensuring that you have a right-sized heating, ventilating and cooling (HVAC) system is the most energy-efficient and comfortable solution for your home.  Sometimes a new HVAC system isn’t required – just simple HVAC services. 

●    Duct tightening >> Duct tightening can reduce temperature fluctuation.  When ducts are tight, air pressure is consistent and an even amount of conditioned air enters all rooms of the house. So, duct tightening can help address room-to-room variations in temperature.

●    Air Sealing >> Conditioned air shouldn’t escape through cracks and crevices in our homes, such as drafty windows, leaky doors, or around other holes.  Air coming into and out of the home should be controlled through proper ventilation, minimizing the air that leaks in or out.  The blower door test forces air through the home, revealing areas where conditioned air escapes.  During installation, air leaks will be stopped with caulk, foam, and other materials.

●    Windows >> Well-performing windows keep outside air outside and conditioned air inside. If there are gaps between windows and frames, comfort and energy efficiency may be compromised. Glazing and glass can also affect home performance.  Low-E coated windows reflect heat in summer, keep heat inside in winter, and reduce UV rays. The advisor should also check for a tight fit between glass and frame. When installing replacement windows, sealing gaps can prevent airflow and thus conditioned air loss.

●    Lighting >> Little changes make a big impact. An ENERGY STAR-qualified compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) will save about $30 over its lifetime, and pays for itself in about 6 months. Compared to an incandescent bulb, it uses 75% less energy and lasts about 10x longer.

Once the right package of solutions is identified, they need to be implemented by a team of installation professionals with the knowledge, skill, and training to do the job right the first time.  The value, savings, and comfort will then be recognized in the following weeks, months, and years.  The realization is that as energy costs continue to rise, the need for energy efficient retrofits, like weatherization, will become more of a necessity.

Written by  Reggie Lopes, WellHome. WellHome is a company that specializes in home energy efficiency.

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