Air Sealing For Maximum Efficiency

April 22, 2019 air leakageair leaksAir Sealingenergy efficiencyenergy saving tipshome insulationInsulationRemodelingWindows & Doors

The constant battle with the elements is a major source of expense when it comes to maintaining a comfortable environment in your home. All winter long, you expend energy in trying to keep the house warm and then, in summer, spend more energy trying to cool things down. As a result, your energy costs go through the roof!

So, if you want to lower your heating and cooling expenses, and make your home more comfortable, start by locating from where in your home air is leaking out through cracks, holes, and improperly sealed joints.

According to ENERGY STAR, properly air sealing your home could save you up to 20 percent of your home heating and cooling costs annually.

Finding leaks:
The easiest way to find leaks in the structure of your home is to check doors and windows by hand. You will be able to feel the exchange of air or cool spots around the openings.

Finding leaks in other places will be a little more difficult but well worth the effort. Attics and crawlspaces are notorious for having hidden leaks that you may not know about. You may get a little dirty as you slither through a crawl space, but the savings will pay off when you find and seal those openings.

Sealing the leaks:
Now that you’ve located the openings that are allowing air to escape, you’ve got to take measures to plug those holes. There are several ways to do this:

Sealing ducts:
One area of heat loss that is often overlooked is the ductwork used in homes with forced air heating and cooling systems. As much as 20 percent of the air that moves through these systems is lost due to poorly or improperly sealed ducts and vents.

Contact your local RESNET Qualified Energy Smart contractor who will use specialized equipment to determine where the air leaks are and how they can best be sealed to start you on your way to enjoying lower energy bills and greater home comfort this year.

10 Signs of Foundation Problems

April 3, 2019 air leakageair leakscracks in foundationenergy lossfoundation problemsFoundationsWhy Use a Qualified Contractor

Though it might not be the first area that springs to mind when talking about saving energy, a house’s foundation actually has quite a significant part to play when it comes to identifying energy inefficiencies. For example, the area where the top of the foundation wall meets the wood framing surrounding doors and windows is a very common area forair leakage. In order to save energy and improve your home’s comfort, every effort should be made to identify foundation problems, and to seal any air leaks or repair any damage that might be there.

Top 10 signs of foundation problems:

  1. Uneven or sloping floors
  2. Cracks in exterior or interior brick
  3. Displaced or cracked moldings
  4. Wall rotation
  5. Cracks in walls or bowing of walls
  6. Cracks in floor, tiles, or foundation
  7. Doors and windows won’t open or close properly
  8. Separation of doors, windows, and garage doors
  9. Spaces between wall and ceiling, or floor
  10. Walls separating from house

If you spot cracks in your foundation, there’s no need to panic; what’s important is the nature of the cracks, because all foundations have few. Hairline cracks, for example, are nothing to worry about; these are probably due to concrete shrinkage. Small cracks (1/16 inch wide) can be easily addressed by painting over with waterproof concrete paint – just make sure you check to make sure the paint hasn’t cracked.

However, stair step cracks in masonry joints, a bulging wall or a crack bigger than ¼ inch are more problematic and may indicate moisture problems. In this case, you’ll need to talk to a RESNET Certified Contractor or Builder who can advise you on what needs to be done. The most serious types of cracks are horizontal ones, which could mean that water-saturated soil from outside has frozen, expanded and broken into the foundation. A worst-case scenario could mean having to get a new foundation. Once again, a RESNET Certified Contractor or Builder would be the best person to advise you on your options.

If you’ve identified any foundation problems or have concerns about your home’s foundation, contact a RESNET Energy Smart Contractor or Builder today.

Vast Majority of U.S. Homes Are Under Insulated

December 8, 2015 air leakageair leaksAir Sealinghome insulationInsulationWindows & Doors

It’s hard to believe but 90% of existing American homes are under insulated. That means 90% of existing American homes are wasting money, energy and are not providing their owners with optimal comfort. In addition to this, they are also having a negative impact on the environment.

The numbers are derived from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Survey, which used methods developed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to estimate insulation levels. Researchers at Boston University had already applied these methods as part of a study into potential energy savings and emissions reductions through increased insulation levels in family homes.

According to Dr. Jonathan Levy, Professor of Environmental Health at Boston University School of Public Health and the lead researcher on the Boston University team that conducted the study, “If all U.S. homes were fitted with insulation based on the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), residential electricity use nationwide would drop by about 5 percent and natural gas use by more than 10 percent.” The study showed that by increasing insulation in U.S. homes across the country, not only did energy usage decrease but there was also a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions as well as other pollutants.

When addressing home comfort issues, most homeowners think of windows and doors first, and about sealing air leaks around those areas because they are the most visible indicators of home energy efficiency problems. What they don’t realize is that insulation has a much greater impact (up to three times as much) on the average home’s energy and comfort than windows or doors. Assessing a home’s insulation takes only a few minutes, and the resulting improvements can produce a significant increase to home comfort, as well as substantial reductions to home energy bills.

To learn more about how you can improve your home insulation, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional.

How Ready Is Your Home for Fall?

September 7, 2015 air conditioningair leakageair leaksAir Sealingenergy efficiencyenergy saving tipsHeating & Coolinghome energyWindows & Doors

Cold weather can take a real toll on your home, inflicting some serious wear and tear. The most effective way to minimize damage is by making sure your home is ready to face up to harsh fall and winter weather. Here are some tips to help get you started.

1.    Clean Out Your Gutters

Prevent clogging by removing leaves and debris from drainpipes and gutters, and drain outdoor faucets to prevent pipes from bursting.

2.    Clean Your Fireplace and Chimney

Clear out all the ash and charred wood from the fireplace. Get a chimney cleaner to not only clean out the chimney but also check the damper to make sure it can be tightly closed to prevent drafts from getting in.

3.    Perform Furnace Maintenance

Clean your filters and check to see that your heating vents aren’t blocked or covered by furniture or carpets. Call a certified RESNET HVAC contractor for your annual heating system check-up.

4.    Remove and Store Air Conditioners

If you’re using window air conditioners, now is the time to remove and put them away into storage. Make sure you clean them before covering or storing.

5.    Air Seal Doors and Windows

Check your doors and windows for any air leaks with this simple test: run your hand along a window or doorframe and feel for a draft. If you find air leaks, seal them by:

  • Applying weather stripping
  • Caulking any holes
  • Installing storm windows or doors

6.    Perform Water Heater Maintenance

Drain your water heater and remove any debris that may have settled on the bottom of the water tank.

To learn more about how you can properly prepare your home for fall and winter weather, contact your local certified RESNET Home Energy Professional for advice.

Cut Energy Costs When Buying a New Home

August 5, 2015 air leakscut energy costsenergy saving tipsenergy starenergy star applianceshome energy audithome energy auditshome energy efficiencyInsulationlower energy billssave energyWindows & Doors

Buying a new home means more than just paying the mortgage; it also means paying the energy bill. That’s why it’s important to take energy efficiency into account when looking at properties. Here are some factors to consider that will help you cut energy costs when buying a new home.

1. APPLIANCES

If the home you’re buying is equipped with older appliances, consider replacing them with newer ENERGY STAR qualified ones. For example:

  • ENERGY STAR refrigerators use 20% less energy than their standard counterparts
  • ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers use 10% less energy and 18% less water than non ENERGY STAR qualified ones.

2. WINDOWS

Inefficient windows can cost you a lot of money.  In fact, they can account for anywhere between 10-25% of your heating and cooling bills. Leaky windows (air leakage) make your HVAC work harder to cool your home in summer, and warm it in winter. Avoid this by air sealing them, or better still replacing older windows with new energy efficient versions.

3. INSULATION

Properly installed insulation is key to keeping your home comfortable and energy bills down. It’s important to know what the right amount of insulation your home would need based on location. Talk to a RESNET certified Home Energy Professional to get expert advice about how much insulation you might need, and also what is the most effective sort to use for your environment.

4. ENERGY AUDIT

An energy audit is an examination of a home’s energy performance, and will tell you where and how a home is losing energy. A RESNET certified Home Energy Auditor is able to pinpoint problem areas, and provide you with cost-effective energy efficiency solutions to help rectify these problems.

However, before you buy that new home, talk to a RESNET certified Home Energy Professional first. They can help you better understand how energy efficient the home is, and what steps you can take to improve its energy performance.

Make Your Home Energy Efficient for Summer!

May 4, 2015 air conditioningair leakageair leaksAir Sealingenergy efficiencyenergy efficientenergy efficient homesprogrammable thermostats

May is the perfect month to start getting your home ready for the summer – energy ready that is. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • If don’t already have a programmable thermostat, now’s a good time to invest in one. A programmable thermostat can save you a significant amount of money over a long, hot summer.
  • Test your system by setting your thermostat to cool and turn down the temperature. The air conditioner should start cooling your home; if it doesn’t, that means there’s a problem. Call a certified RESNET HVAC contractor to find out what the problem is.
  • If you need to replace your air conditioner, do it now before the hot weather kicks in.
  • If you have an outside AC unit, remove any debris that may have accumulated during the winter. Also, consider trimming or removing plants, leaves, or high grass that is located close to the unit. These could have a negative impact on your unit.
  • Check your windows and doors for any leaks. Leaky windows and doors let hot outdoor air in while allowing cool indoor air to escape. The result is your HVAC has to work harder and your energy bills go up, so make sure you seal those leaks!
  • Check your ductwork for any leaks. Sealing leaky ducts can save you anywhere from 10 to 20% on your heating and cooling bills.
  • Examine your home’s exterior for any wear and tear or damage. Harsh winter weather can inflict some serious punishment to a home’s outer walls, exterior doors and roof. Making repairs now will not only lead to a more enjoyable summer, but also give you a head start on preparing for next winter.

To get a comprehensive idea of how to make your home energy efficient for summer, talk to a certified RESNET Home Energy Professional. They’ll be able to pinpoint where and how your home is losing energy, and offer cost-effective solutions to rectify the problems.

Don’t Let A High Energy Bill Haunt Your Halloween!

October 29, 2014 air leakageair leaksAir SealingCFL lightbulbsCFLsenergy auditenergy auditsenergy efficiencyenergy efficient lightingenergy saving tipssave energysolar lightingsolar power

It’s that time of year again when ghosts, ghouls and goblins emerge from their dark recesses to stalk the earth, but they can’t hold a candle to the fear that a sky-high energy bill inspires.

While it’s true that there are few things in this world (and also not of this world) that can send a cold shiver down your spine the way the dreaded energy bill does, there is action you can take that doesn’t involve eating raw garlic, wooden stakes or magic spells. This year, don’t let a high energy bill haunt your Halloween by following our tips below:

    1. Banish Cold Chills from Your Home
      • Stop cold air from infiltrating your home by air sealing it properly. The easiest way to look for leaks is to check doors and windows by hand. You’ll be able to feel the cold air seeping in through unsealed spots. Also, step outside and close the door behind you when handing out treats on All Hallows’ Eve. This will prevent heat from escaping and cold air from getting in.
    2. Keep Energy Vampires at Bay
      • Vampires really do exist! Energy vampires are electronics that continue to draw power when on standby mode. Some examples include: TVs, DVD players, gaming consoles, battery chargers and stereos. This usage costs the average American household $100 a year. Don’t let energy vampires get the better of you this Halloween – use a power strip or unplug devices when not using them.
    3. Engage the Power of Energy Efficient Light
      • Nothing fights darkness better than energy efficient light bulbs! One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to lower energy bills is by replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). Most of the energy used by incandescent bulbs results in heat generation rather than light. CFLs use far less energy, emit less heat and generate the same amount of light.
    4. Reach for the Sun
      • Scare off any creatures of the night that may be lurking around your outdoor space by tapping into the awesome power of the sun’s energy. Outdoor solar lighting is easy to install, affordable and virtually maintenance-free. You can choose from a wide range of pathway lighting, wall-mounted lights, freestanding lampposts and security lights.
    5. Water – Your Secret Weapon
      • Efficient water use can prove to be deadly to both witches and water bills. Installing low-flow showerheads and faucets can help you achieve water savings of up to anywhere from 25-60%. Leaky faucets could be costing you more money than you realize, so make sure to fix them ASAP!
        • Hot water leaking at 1 drip per second adds up to 1,661 gallons of water wasted in a year.
        • 1,661 gallons of water works out to approximately $35 in wasted energy costs.

The best way to learn how to make your home energy efficient is through a home energy audit. Contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor to find out more.

Tips on Creating an Energy Efficient Study Room

September 25, 2014 air conditioningair leakageair leaksAir Sealingenergy efficient lightingenergy star

With the start of the new school year, many parents are turning that spare room or den into a study room for their kids. Here are some tips on how to make it energy efficient so you can maximize savings, and create a comfortable study atmosphere for your kids:

  • Select ENERGY STAR® qualified computers and printers; they use anywhere from 30-65 percent less energy.
    • ENERGY STAR power management features put computers into a low power “sleep mode” after a designated period of inactivity to cut down on energy usage.
    • Turn off the monitor if you’re not going to use the desktop computer for more than 20 minutes.
    • Turn off both the CPU and monitor if you’re not going to use your computer for more than 2 hours.
  • Use a power strip that can be turned off (or turns off automatically) for all electronics (computers, audio and video equipment, etc.).
    • Did you know that the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter?
    • Many appliances (i.e., DVD players, TVs, stereos, computers) will still draw power when they are switched off unless they’re unplugged or using a power strip.
  • Install ENERGY STAR certified lighting fixtures that are highly efficient (and have lower greenhouse gas emissions) to provide your kids with the lighting they need to study properly.
    • ENERGY STAR lighting uses ¼ of the energy of traditional lighting and produces light that lasts between 10,000-50,000 hours (about 7-22 years of regular use).
  • For electrical gadgets that need batteries such as cordless phones or digital cameras, use rechargeable alternatives. Rechargeable batteries are more cost-effective and better for the environment.
    • If you’re putting a cordless phone in the study room, choose one that is ENERGY STAR qualified. They’re more efficient and use half the energy of standard units through improved energy performance features such as switch-mode power supplies and “smart” chargers.
  • If the room has windows, you should:
    • Seal them properly to prevent air leakages, which can make the room uncomfortable to be in while driving up energy costs.
    • Replace old ones with newer ENERGY STAR qualified windows to lower household energy bills by anywhere from 7-15 percent.
    • On warmer days, draw the blinds or curtains to prevent the room from becoming too warm – it’s hard to study in a room that’s too hot! Also keep in mind that your air conditioning will have to work harder, which means higher costs.

And remember, an energy efficient study room also works well as an energy efficient home office! To get more great energy-saving tips, visit www.resnet.us

Pay Less in Utility Bills!

April 11, 2014 air leaksCFLselectricity ratesenergy auditorenergy auditsenergy starenergy star applianceshvacInsulationprogrammable thermostats

High utility bills are a major problem for many American households. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce those costs and pay less in utility bills.

1. Opt for time-based electricity rates:

  • Utilities vary price according to time-of-day usage.
  • Apply for any available rebates offered by your utility.

2. Invest in energy-saving products:

  • A programmable thermostat can save you up to 10% on heating and cooling bills.
  • ENERGY STAR qualified appliances reduce your costs by up to 30% through using less energy.
  • Use energy efficient lighting like compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) that use one-quarter to one-third of the power of incandescent bulbs.
  • Look for low-flow faucets and showerheads to reduce water costs.

3. Reduce energy wastage in your home:

  • Turn off lights when leaving a room.
  • Unplug electronic devices that are not in use.
  • Do your laundry in cold water.
  • Match pots and pans with the same size burners on your stove.

4. Check to see if your home is suffering from energy efficiency issues:

  • Check the insulation in the attic, exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces. There could be gaps or insufficient insulation that is letting the cold penetrate into your living area.
  • Look for air leaks around wall and ceiling joints, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets.
  • If you have a fireplace, check to make sure you don’t have an open damper.
  • How energy efficient is your HVAC? Is it being properly maintained?

To fully understand how you can maximize your energy savings and pay less in utility bills, contact a certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor for an energy audit. Energy audits are detailed home examinations that pinpoint areas where a home is losing energy. Certified RESNET Auditors are energy efficiency specialists who can propose cost-effective solutions that make your home more comfortable and reduce costs. Talk to your local RESNET Home Energy Auditor about how they can assist you in reducing your utility costs.

Energy-Saving Tips for Schools

September 27, 2013 air leakageair leaksAir SealingCFL lightbulbsCFLsenergy efficient lightingenergy saving tips for schoolsenergy starenergy star appliancesHeating & Coolingprogrammable thermostatssave energysave energy at schoolschools

Autumn heralds the return of many things, like the wearing of sweaters, raking of leaves and for kids – going back to school. And while saving energy at home is important, schools also can benefit from energy-saving tips and programs. The great thing about saving energy in schools is that students can really get involved in the process and make it a learning experience for everyone! So, for all the returning students out there, here are some energy-saving tips for your school that you can practice (and share):

Lighting

  • Turn off lights when not in use – lighting accounts for nearly 50% of the electric bill in most schools. This applies to energy-efficient fluorescent lights too.
  • Form a student energy patrol to ensure lights are out when rooms are empty (check classrooms, the cafeteria, the auditorium, etc.).
  • Have students make signs and stickers to remind people to turn off the lights when they leave a room.
  • Have students conduct an experiment in classrooms by turning off selected banks of lights and measuring comfort at different lighting levels (many people prefer working under natural light).
  • Have students calculate the energy savings achieved by:
    • Replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs
    • Changing incandescent lights in Exit Signs to light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs

Heating & Cooling

  • Heating and cooling school buildings can be expensive, but indoor temperatures must be comfortable so teachers can concentrate on teaching and kids can concentrate on learning. Consider setting thermostats at 68 degrees for heating and 78 degrees for cooling.
  • Don’t block the airflow around vents. Keep bookcases and other bulky items away from the heating and cooling units so they don’t block and/or absorb the warm (or cool) air that should be coming into the room.
  • Install programmable thermostats in areas like the cafeteria to minimize operating hours of the heating and cooling systems during low occupancy periods.
  • Turn down heat in the hallways; keep classroom doors closed.
  • Clean furnace filters regularly.
  • Stop leaks! Look for simple draft-beating strategies.
  • Have students determine areas of energy loss by using “draft-meters” made from plastic wrap and pencils to study where drafts are entering.
  • Have students help replace insulation and stuff energy loss “holes” with innovative measures, such as making translucent window quilts to hang in classrooms and “insulation snakes” to put at the bottom of doors and windows.
  • Work with facility staff to install permanent weather-stripping, caulking, and insulation.

Computers

  • If your school computers have power-management features, make sure controls are set so they will go into the “sleep” mode when not in active use.  (Screen savers don’t save energy – only the sleep mode does.)
  • Students should turn off monitors that will not be used for the next class period.  All computer equipment should be turned off at the end of the day and on weekends, unless your network technicians specifically instruct otherwise.
  • Form a student energy patrol to make sure monitors are off when computers are not in use and to turn computers off at the end of the day.
  • Save 50% on energy costs by using ENERGY STAR computers, monitors, printers, fax machines, copiers and other equipment. Calculate potential savings from the use of ENERGY STAR equipment and present the results to school administrators.

Appliances

  • Have students use a wattmeter to study how much electricity a device uses. This helps to determine which appliances are out-dated and less efficient.
  • Have students conduct a survey of the number of appliances in each classroom and encourage teachers to take away unneeded ones.
  • Clean refrigerator coils regularly.

Involve the Whole School

  • Energy savings add up when the entire school joins together in conservation efforts. Schools with effective conservation programs have reported reductions of as much as 25% in utility bills.
  • Publicize energy costs and savings. When people know how much it costs to power their school, they can see why it’s worth some extra effort to avoid waste.