Thursday, March 18, 2010

Are You Leaking?

Well, are you?  No, I'm not talking about all you new moms out there....  I'm talking about your house!  Energy efficient homes have been getting more press recently and it's a good thing. So I thought I should share with you a recent experience I had during a house assessment for energy consumption.  

Everyone knows that recycling is important but does the average person care about the energy that's wasted heating and cooling our leaky homes?  You wouldn't leave a window open in the middle of January, right?  Like my dad used to say... as I'd stood with the front door open on a blustery day, "Do you think we live in a barn?"  But if your house isn't tight, then you might as well be. 

(It's kind of ironic that now I'd love to live in a barn... it's rural loft living!)  But I digress to another post...

Recently I was able to witness first hand a blower door test on a house in upstate NY.  It's a way to find where all the hot air escapes during the winter and the cool air in the summer.  Here they are setting up an exterior door to receive the blower...

The blower then gets attached and will suck out all the air. Using a pressure reading, they can gauge the overall house leakage. 

As the blower is running, you go around the house and feel where the air is being drawn out.  You'd be surprised where we found major air movement;  pocket doors, outlets, return vents, recessed lights... to name a few.

What's really happening is that the wall cavity of the outlet or light is connected to exterior walls or roof that aren't properly insulated and air tight. Once we get the results from this house, I'll talk about different insulation options to help remediate that kind of problem.

To do the test we contacted a contractor that participates in the Energy Smart program offered by NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority).  They have a listing of contractors who perform house assessments and will provide you with a proposal to implement the work to make your house more energy efficient.  If you use a qualifying contractor, the progam will provide a 10% incentive for construction work or you could be eligible for low interest loans to do the improvements.  NJ has a very similar energy program, as do many other states.

The contractor will also do a CO2 test as part of the assessment to ensure equipment is working efficiently and is vented properly.  It's a good safety precaution on top of having carbon monoxide detectors in your house.

They also go around to every outlet to calculate the total electrical draw from your appliances, light fixtures and equipment.   After the assessment, the data is run through a computer program along with past utility info to analyze your total usage. The contractor will then provide a report that documents their findings and suggests improvements to make your house more efficient.  It's a simple process to see where you stand with regards to energy consumption.

So if you're thinking about renovations or building a new house, take a look at your state's program to see how you might incorporate energy improvements to your home.  Come on, green is the new black!

1 comment:

  1. I totally need one of these done on my house. I know for sure I have lots of leaks...really bad ones. I would love to make my house more green and save money to boot!