Spotlight On Weatherization

Peter Nobile and I found we had some things in common: coffee and a passion about weatherizing our homes. See below for suggestions on how to accomplish this in your home.

Peter Nobile

Why to weatherize your investment:  "The number one reason would be to save money on home energy bills. Also, by weatherizing your home you’re doing the right thing environmentally – I grew up in a culture of “waste not, want not,” which taught me that wasting energy was a poor way to spend my money.  It is also central to our Yankee heritage to husband our resources.  And practically speaking, weatherization literally makes you feel better – cooler in summer, warmer in winter. Not to mention the potential increases in the resale value of your home – you can legitimately ask higher price when you sell your home because of the improvements you’ve made.  You can boast about your low energy bills!

My wife and I just completed a partial renovation to our 1955 split level – there was NO insulation in the walls!  We immediately began enjoying lower energy bills and have a much more comfortable home."

Money Saving Tips: 

  • Insulate, insulate, insulate – walls, roofs and floors!  Ask for help from a builder, architect or insulation installer to find the right strategy for your home.
  • Air seal, air seal, air seal!  For instance, weather strip windows and doors – ask your hardware store, and call a neighbor if you need help installing.
  • Install plastic sheets over windows during the winter if no other option is available.  Kits are available at the hardware store.
  • Install storm windows.
  • Check electrical outlets on exterior wall - on a cold day, hold your hand over the outlet to feel  drafts. If you feel moving air, take the cover plate off and carefully spray Great Stuff (insulating foam) around the device to seal the wall behind.
  • Insulate all interior pipes – heating pipes and hot water pipes.  Keep the energy in the pipe, where it belongs.
  • Insulate duct work – keep the heat and cold in the duct where it belongs.
  • Use insulated downlight fixtures if you have uninsulated attic spaces – otherwise, heat is leaking into your cold attic.
  • Upgrade or install bathroom and kitchen fans to Energy Star models.
  • Use compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in ALL light fixtures as they require less energy. One thing to note about CFL flood lights – they take about a minute to wake up and be at their brightest – be patient!
  • When it is time, replace old appliances such as refrigerators with new Energy Star models. Also a good idea to vacuum behind your appliances once a year.
  • Use a 5-minute shower timer (available from the Town) – a great way to save on water bills! 
  • Turn the thermostat up a few degrees in the summer (say to 78) and heat down a couple of degrees in the winter (say to 68), and you will certainly save money.  Better yet, install programmable thermostats to do the work for you..

What about the folks that rent:

  • If the building is well insulated, arrange with the landlord to pay energy bills separately from rent. Then replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs; weatherstrip windows and doors, and carefully plug up gaps and leaks with spray foam.
  • Practice behavior modifications mentioned above.

Resources and incentives:

See this website for some really good info on incentives.

Rebates:

"I would suggest the homeowner work with their town energy departments first. The Town of Concord has an Energy Coordinator, her name is Jan Aceti. I’d recommend calling her to see what local rebates are available for weatherization. Also, the Concord Light Plant has light bulb rebates.

Best way to invest:

  • Replace very old windows with thermally broken insulated (double pane) units.  If you can’t replace, put weather stripping around windows or put on storms; or seal with plastic for winter.
  • Replace or at least tune up your boiler or furnace.  Consider a high efficiency condensing boiler, for instance; also, gas customers using National Grid are eligible for excellent rebates and incentives.
  • Replace old appliances with new Energy Star certified models.
  • Replace old shower heads with low-flow, 1.5 gallon per minute models.
  • Replace bathroom fans, ceiling fans and kitchen exhaust fans with Energy Star models.
  • Replace ancient toilets with current water efficient models.
  • Replace as many lamps in your house with CFLs as you can – but carefully.  Make sure any lamp on a dimmer switch has the right kind of CFL in the socket – ask your hardware store.

CFLs - how to dispose: "Set it aside and bring to the twice-a-year Drop Off/Swap Off (next one is October 16th).  If one breaks – the best way to dispose of it is to get some wet paper towels, pick it up with these then put all in a plastic bag and tie it tightly, then bring it to the Drop Off/ Swap Off.”

If you’re interested in a Home Energy Audit: 

Call Jan Aceti at 978-318-3101 to discuss options for Concord residents.

How much insulation should you use?

" The more the better.  Get an estimate to find out the range of choices – for instance, are you willing to have holes drilled into your walls or not?  Can you insulate your roof but not your walls? Make sure you evaluate the options: spray foams and blown-in cellulose or fiberglass are better than batts because the cavities are filled, but batts are better than nothing!  If you’re going to do it yourself, get some advice on proper installation techniques – the rule of thumb is the quality of your insulation job depends on the quality of your installer.  Call an architect or builder for help.”  See this table for more info. and suggested depths.

Federal tax rebates:

How much can one expect to be reimbursed for insulation? "I understand there are reimbursements for insulation of 30% of cost up to $1500.00. See here for more info.

Products eligible for a tax credit: See this link for info.

How to apply for a tax credit: See here for info.

Take away thought:

"You can lose up to 60% of your heated air before it reaches the register if your ducts aren't insulated and travel through unheated spaces such as the attic or crawlspace. Get a qualified professional to help you insulate and repair ducts."

---U.S. Dept. of Energy


---Peter Nobile works on sustainable design

 

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