3 New Year’s Resolutions to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home

By Vernon Trollinger, January 2, 2017, Energy Efficiency, Green, Save Money

Too often, homeowners wanting to take on a major DIY energy efficient project, like air sealing, insulation, or crawlspace encapsulation, get overwhelmed by the complexity of the whole project and give up before even trying. It’s a lot like when the alarm goes off early in the morning and you think about ALL the things you need to get done. That’s when you hit the snooze button and roll over.

3 New Year's Resolutions to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home | Bounce Energy

The first step to starting any home improvement project is the planning!

Half of the job of making your Texas home more energy efficient comes from planning the job. You need to actually sit down with a piece of paper and pencil and list the steps you need to take to get the job done. Once you divide the job into steps, the whole project disappears into a series of smaller jobs that you can more easily focus on. And before you know it, you’re all done.

We’re going to show you where to start planning these kind of projects. At worse, you might need to take a few measurements but for the most part, this is something you can do at the dining room table. If you’ve been really meaning to start one of these major energy-saving projects on your Texas home, this list of energy efficiency New Year’s Resolutions is for you.

1. Plan how to air seal your home.

Energy Efficiency New Year's Resolutions

Expanding foam is great for sealing energy-wasting air leaks in your Texas home this new year.

Think of the living space of your home as a kind of thermal submarine. You want to keep the cold, moist air from leaking into your home and forcing your dry, comfortable warm air outside — and adding to your heating bills. Any place where pipe, tubing, or wires pass through the wall, ceiling or floor should be sealed with caulk or expandable foam.

Start your plan by listing ALL the specific areas in your home where outside air enters the living space (yes, it includes closets). Common areas to look for air leakage are in your attic, garage, and in your basement/crawl space. Remember, air sealing your attic BEFORE you add insulation is much easier to do and will increase your energy savings and comfort.

2. Plan how to add insulation to your attic.

3 New Year's Resolutions to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home | Bounce Energy

Choosing the time of year you insulate your home is vital for your comfort, ease and health.

Once you’ve gotten you attic air sealed and all the drafts are blocked up, you can add more insulation onto existing amounts of insulation. How much? Most homes built in the past two decades are built with R13 in the walls and attic. That’s about 3 inches. The Department of Energy recommends at least R30 (about 1 foot of blown cellulose or fiberglass) for attic insulation.

Because heat always moves toward cold, insulation is not just for cold climates. Keeping your home cool in the summer means all that heat outside is always moving inside. Adding insulation slows that process down, reducing the amount of energy your AC uses to cool your home.

Start your plan by estimating the amount of insulation you’ll need. That is, the dimension of your attic multiplied by the thickness (or R-value) that you want. Many chain home centers have on-line insulation calculators.

Next, decide on the type of insulation. Most homeowners choose either fiberglass batts or cellulose which requires the use of a blower.

Then, list how you’ll get the insulation up into the attic without making a mess and what part of the attic you’ll start the installation. Hint — start as far from the attic door as you can and work backwards.

Expect to spend a full day on the installation so choose a weekend during a time of year when it doesn’t get too hot in your attic. Make a tool list and include knee pads, a 2’ x 3’ x 3/4 inch sheet of plywood to kneel on, and dust masks.

3. Plan how to seal and insulate your crawlspace.

Crawlspaces with vents to the outside actually increases the moisture level inside the crawlspace by bringing in more humidity and moisture. Houses with vented crawl spaces consequently are more likely to have humidity problems involving mildew, mold, warping floors, and wood rot. Encapsulating or closing off the crawlspace solves moisture problems and increases your home’s heating and cooling.

3 New Year's Resolutions to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home | Bounce Energy

Clogged rain gutters are one of the many ways rain can get into your crawlspace.

  • Start your plan by listing specific areas that you can air seal in your crawl space (this should also include the exterior vents).
  • Next, visually inspect and make a list of areas where rain run off may be getting into your crawlspace (clogged rain gutters, downspouts that need to be extended).
  • Next, measure you crawlspace so you can place a 6 mil plastic vapor barrier over the entire bare earth floor of the crawlspace. Most 6 mil plastic comes in 100’ by 20’ rolls so expect to cut and piece sections together as you put down the barrier.
  • Keep in mind you will need to overlap and tape all seams by 12 inches, and seal the sheet 6 inches up the crawlspace walls. Joist bays (spaces where floor joists meet the band joist just above the foundation) are insulated by cutting pieces of rigid foam insulation to fit and then held in place with expanding foam. Most of these will be the same size so count the number of bays and note any of them that are different so you can cut the foam pieces all at once and then install them quickly.
  • Next, measure the length and width of the walls so you can install rigid foam insulation panels around the entire crawlspace. This way, you will know how much to buy, and you’ll be able to cut the panels to the correct size ahead of time. Be sure to allow for a 3 inch wide open strip from the top for termite inspections.

What are some of your energy efficiency New Year’s resolutions for 2017? Share with us in the comments section below!

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