Every year in this country Americans are spending more than $130 billion dollars in wasted energy. Of course, with the increase in energy prices seemingly every year, this can really cost the average homeowner. Of course, your biggest investment, your home, is responsible for up to 86% of the energy wasted. The R-value of your home is very important in how energy efficient you home is. What is R-Value? It is the measure of how well any 2-dimensional barrier, i.e. a wall or window, can resist the flow of heat.
How can you help reduce or eliminate this waste? Let’s take a look at a breakdown of energy loss in your homes.
1. Cracks in walls and doors
Cracks and gaps around your doors, windows, and in your walls are the biggest culprit of energy loss in homes. Just a 1/8” crack around a door can cause almost as much energy loss as someone putting a 2 ½” hole in your walls! While you can lose almost 40% of your energy through these cracks, they are also one of the easiest and most cost-effective areas to fix.
Around the non-movable parts of windows any area less than 1/2” can be filled in with caulk. In any areas bigger than that and you should use weatherstripping. Weatherstripping should also be used around doors, especially at the bottom where old doors may have shrunk or pulled away from the frame. Filling in these areas is inexpensive (usually the cost savings will pay off these repairs in less than a year) and relatively easy to do. It is important to remember that weatherstripping does wear out over time and will need to be replaced every few years.
2. Basement Walls
Here in North Carolina, most houses have crawl spaces that can result in plenty of energy loss. Bare soil floors with little vapor barrier and no insulation on the walls can be a huge energy waster. An 8” concrete wall provides as much insulation as a double-pane window. Fixing this can be done by attaching fiberglass insulation around the walls, reducing seams as much as possible, and making it as tight as possible with the overhead joists. This will reflect heat back into your crawl space and prevent the loss of heat through your floors.
Bare soil has a wicking effect where water travels from wet areas to dry areas. The heat from your floors will dry the top layer of soil under your house which in turn pulls water from below. When water evaporates it cools the crawlspace adding to more heat loss. Installing a proper, heavy-duty plastic vapor barrier will dry out your crawl space and stops your house from absorbing water. This also can help reduce other problems including mold and fungus under your house, where moist and dark areas are a wonderful breeding ground.
3. Frame Walls
The insulation in your walls can lose its effectiveness over time and may need to be augmented or replaced entirely. In older homes (those built before 1982), this can be a major concern. In many cases, insulation can be increased with fill-in or blown-in cellulose, fiberglass, or mineral insulation, depending on the type of home. This can drastically increase your home’s R-value, improving its energy efficiency and lowering your costs.
This process is typically not a Do-it-yourself type project and should really be done by a professional. Having an energy assessment of your home can go a long way in telling if this is a needed expense that will save you enough money to see value.
Windows are made of glass which allows for a greater transfer of heat. Adding insulated windows can reduce your energy costs by more than 20%. Insulated windows have multiple panes of glass with an inert gas in between the panes (also known as “Low-E”) which allows for less heat transfer. Also, in winter, you can put plastic sheets over your windows that can reflect heat back into your home. This is a very cost-effective project, though not as aesthetically pleasing as most would like.
If you suspect you do need your windows replaced or just want a free estimate, give us a call and we can show you many different options available for your home, including double and triple pane, vinyl and fiberglass options.
While only a small portion of a homes’ energy escapes through your ceiling, the costs do add up over time. If you get a home energy audit and it is shown that you are losing heat through your ceiling, then it may be time to replace the insulation in your attic. The recommended amount of attic insulation, per the Department of Energy, is 11” of fiberglass or at least 8” of cellulose.
Even if your attic is properly insulted, the attic door may not be. If this is the case, you can elect to install an “attic tent”. These are very affordable products (usually under $100) that are easily installed by most homeowners. If you cannot install this product yourself, please contact Odyssey Contracting for an estimate.
Improperly installed doors/storm doors, water evaporation of door trim and settling of your home can cause gaps that your air-conditioning can escape through.
One great way to see if you have air leakage through the doors, windows or attic Stair Hole of your home is to take a piece of paper and hold it up to the closure points of the door/window. You will see the paper move if air is entering your finished space.
If you are looking for new doors to enhance your home and save energy, we would love to help.
7. Basement Floor
While many homes in North Carolina do not have basements, the ones that do can be losing heat. To properly insulate a basement floor, you will need to put an insulation layer over the top of the concrete followed by some type of flooring, whether wood or carpet. Whichever way you go, it is a good idea to talk to a professional first for their suggestions.
Energy loss in a home is just throwing money away. If you would like some more information, please reach out to us on how we can help you save money and beautify your home. We can be reached at 919-916-5640 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.