Cold air always finds a way into your home, through the tiniest of gaps and cracks around your foundation. The average Vermont home has the equivalent of a basketball-sized hole letting in cold air and pests. Although this air flow is spread out through small cracks and gaps, these minor leaks add up to a huge problem. The small gap at the bottom of your door or those pesky little mouse passageways can amount to a sinkhole for your wallet. Sealing those gaps up is easier than you might think!
Common Sources of Air Leakage in Your Home
Uninsulated attics are a major source of heat loss in homes old and new. If your attic is not properly sealed with spray foam insulation or a similar product, you are losing heat through your roof. Remember that fun fact about losing heat from the top of your head if don’t wear a hat? The same rule applies for your home, because warm air rises. Sealing your attic properly can save energy and lower your bills.
Like your attic, a leaky basement can also be a driver of heat loss. Whether it is uninsulated or has moisture issues during the spring thaw, you are losing money if you do not make repairs. Cold air flowing through the cracks and gaps in your basement flows up through your main floors, and escapes through your roof. Moisture – along with pests – uses these same cracks and gaps to enter your basement, damaging your foundation with each freeze/thaw cycle. Installing moisture barriers and insulation, as well as properly air sealing, can help remedy this problem.
Fix Leaks and Upgrade Your Heaters
With spray foam insulation or rigid foam board installed in your attic and basement, and weather stripping and caulking sealing small gaps, your home will feel much warmer and your energy bills will drop. Foam or caulk is applied around the top of the foundation of your basement, and in any gaps around the floor of your attic. Spray foam is blown in as a liquid, and expands as it dries to fill the available space. Any excess is then cut away, leaving an excellent air seal.
The next step on your energy efficiency path is installing an efficient heating or cooling device. Whether this is an upgraded boiler or cold climate heat pump, the increase in efficiency compared with your previous system will save you money. This also applies for hot water heaters, as old water heaters work twice as hard to keep your water supply warm.
Get an Energy Audit with HEAT Squad
Not sure how to locate the gaps in your home? Getting an energy audit with HEAT Squad is the perfect way to identify where you are losing the most energy. During the energy audit, your auditor will check your home – from attic to basement – for leaks and safety concerns. Your BPI-certified energy auditor will do a full visual inspection, checking for any holes and gaps, as well as the state of your current insulation.
Next, your auditor will set up a blower door test to identify the greatest sources of air leakage in your home. The blower door fan pushes air out of your home, pulling outside air in through all the cracks and gaps — this way, both you and your auditor can feel the airflow through your home, measure the total amount of airflow, and identify the greatest sources of leakage.
Your auditor will also use an infrared camera (weather dependent) to show you where the coldest spots are in your home. In most homes, this includes the edges of doors, in the corners of rooms, and around sockets and fixtures where insulation may have been moved aside, pulled out, or squished. Even an uninsulated floor leading to your basement can be a source of heat loss!
Weatherization will lower your bills!
After the energy audit is over, your energy auditor can help you prioritize potential projects to understand what will save you the most money, as well as how large of a rebate you could receive from Efficiency Vermont. Your energy auditor can help coordinate contractors to get estimates for potential projects, and remain as a resource through your entire project. NeighborWorks of Western Vermont also offers an Energy Loan to help you finance upgrades. Once your project is complete, your energy auditor can come back to review the project for quality, as well as to perform a second blower door test to get you access to the Efficiency Vermont rebates (up to $2000 for insulation and air sealing!).
The average HEAT Squad customer saves $914 a year. This is definitely worth taking the time to look into — not just for the savings, but for making your home more efficient and comfortable! Getting started today is simple – call the HEAT Squad at (802) 438-2303.
Author: Devon Harding, HEAT Squad Intern