Simple Steps Can Help You Save Big On Enery Bills
No matter where you live in the country increasing insulation or weatherizing your home can add up to significant savings on energy bills. Heating and cooling expenses make up over one-half of the average homes energy expenses. Increasing insulation and properly weather stripping windows and doors is a very cost effective way to lower energy bills over time. The expense of these upgrades can be quickly recouped with the added cost savings.
People who reside in colder climates understand the importance of upgrading insulation in their homes to help keep warm air in. Conversely it is also very important to keep warm air out of the house during the warm weather months of the year to save on air conditioning costs. All of the small air leaks in the average house can account for up to one-third of the total energy losses in a home.
Some of the obvious indications that your house is not properly insulated and weather stripped are drafts, frosted windows, and higher then expected energy bills. It is somewhat of a challenge to determine what type and volume of insulation you have in the wall cavities of your home. One method of determining if insulation is inadequate is to measure the temperature in different areas of the rooms in your house. If you find that there is a temperature difference of more then three or four degrees, the room has too little insulation and/or poor weather sealing. The cure is usually an easy one because the majority of air leaks occur around windows and doors. The installation of additional weather stripping should help limit further air loss.
Another method of locating air leaks around doors and windows is to use a piece of tissue paper. Hold the tissue next to door openings and window frames. If the paper blows or flutters then there is too much cold air entering the home from the area. This method works best on a windy day.
A smoke stick can be used to locate drafty conditions around attic penetrations such as pipe and stack vents. Hold the smoke stick under the penetrations and look to see if the smoke gets pulled around. If the smoke drifts that is an indication that the openings and penetrations must be more tightly sealed in order to help keep drafts out of the attic space.
You can also have a private energy audit performed by a qualified professional. An energy survey is performed by a professional and usually includes the use of an infrared camera and a piece of equipment called a blower door. Infrared technology will highlight exactly where cold air is entering the home. The blower door will be able to measure the volume of air flow and detect air leaks in the home. You can also monitor your energy use for a given year. If there is a significant increase in expenses over the previous year then you may want to have a professional energy auditor come in to fully evaluate your home for energy losses.
Another crucial element of keeping hot air in the home is to make sure that you have adequate attic insulation. Measure the depth of the insulation between the floor joists to determine if the existing insulation meets current standards. Insulation is measured in resistance value or how well the insulating material acts as a barrier to heat. For example to determine the R-value of batt style fiberglass insulation measure the height or thickness of the insulation in inches and multiply by 3. Here in the northeast for example the recommended R-value for attic bat style insulation would be roughly R-38. This R-value would equal an insulation thickness of roughly thirteen inches. If you find that your insulation is less then thirteen inches thick, additional insulation should be installed to help keep warm air in during colder months and cold air in during the warmer months. Insulation should be kept thick and fluffy and should not be compressed. Compressed or compacted insulation decreases in R-value and is not as effective because it looses its many air pockets. The air pockets in the insulation are what traps air and makes the insulation effective.
Adding insulation and weather stripping helps to create a much more energy efficient home. In fact the average homeowner can save upwards of ten percent on their energy bills just by updating their existing insulation and weather stripping in their home
During your New Jersey home inspection I will be checking the amount of insulation between the floor joists in the attic if the attic floor is open. New Jersey Home Inspectors are not required to measure air leaks in a home using specialized equipment.