Walking the Walk
So for over two years now I have been talking the energy efficiency talk without fully walking the walk. I did what I could around my house as far as programming my programmable thermostat and replacing my incandescent light bulbs with CFLs, but I still had a lot of work to do. I am excited to say that yesterday I had over one foot of insulation added to my attic and today our crew is busy around my house doing all sorts of air sealing. I thought I would share with you my own home energy retrofit experience.
I live in Hyde Park here in Kansas City. I love the historic neighborhood and the housing diversity that comes with it. My home was built in 1901 and is about as inefficient as they get. Building practices have come a long way in over 100 years. But, I do love my home. It’s unique and I love that. Just because my house was built over a century ago doesn’t mean that it can’t be just as efficient (or more) as a house that was constructed yesterday. So I am beginning my personal journey in retrofitting a centurion home.
The first step I took was having my home audited. Not too many surprises to me since I am a BPI auditor and HERS rater myself, but there is always a benefit to a second or third pair of eyes. It showed that I desperately needed insulation, as every part of my home currently lacks insulation except for a very sparse amount in my attic, and it was extremely leaky. I utilized the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program through Kansas City Power & Light and Missouri Gas Energy. This means that there were certain standards I must adhere to. These standards not only allow me to receive a nice $800 rebate from the improvements I made, but it also ensured that I was following best practice.
I had my father help me with constructing an air tight attic dam around my pull down attic hatch. We also insulated it per the work standards. When the insulators arrived they sealed up any electrical and plumbing penetrations that were found in the attic. After that they were ready to blow the insulation. I went with blown in cellulose. I like this product because it also slows down air infiltration and it isn’t so nasty to deal with if you ever need to crawl through your attic. It is made of old newspaper that has been treated to make it fire resistant. The product they treat it with is also an insecticide so I won’t be seeing as many spiders in my house as an added bonus.
Here is what my attic looked like before. Notice you can see the 2×4 joists. I only had about 3 inches at best to start with.
And here is a nice after picture. That’s more like it.
So today our technicians, Sean and Curtis, went to work caulking and foaming around my house. The basement was definitely the worst area and took up the majority of the time. After all their hard work they were able to reduce my air infiltration/exfiltration by nearly 28%. Great job guys!
There is still plenty more work to be done, but I am already experiencing the difference. My furnace has been shutting off much more than typical, despite the cold temperatures we have been experiencing the last two days. I am actually looking forward to my bill next month so I can report the savings!