Posted on January 8, 2015
No matter what type of home you own in the Lufkin area, there’s always room for improvement. This is especially true in light of the savings home improvement projects for energy efficiency offer. Whether it involves sealing your home against air leaks, adding insulation to the attic or refurbishing aging ductwork, you can rest easy knowing that all of these improvements will help you cut down on energy expenses while making your home more comfortable. As far as home improvement projects for energy efficiency go, there are several you can choose from depending on your home’s energy needs and your budget. The following goes in-depth about some these projects and how they can help your home become even more energy efficient.
Improving the AtticThe attic is probably one of the first places you should look when it comes to home improvement projects for energy efficiency. A poorly-insulated or badly sealed attic can cause a wide variety of problems for the average homeowner, often resulting in heating and cooling bills that are much higher than they should be. High heating and cooling bills aren’t the only indicator of an attic in need of improvement. There are several other warning signs that your attic could use some work:
- You see ice dams forming during the winter
- Certain rooms remain too hot or too cold
- You’re faced with constant, hard-to-find drafts
Renovating Crawl Spaces and Basements for Energy EfficiencyCrawl spaces and basements are other areas that deserve attention when it comes to energy efficiency. Unfinished basements are notorious for their lack of insulation and poor sealing against cold weather and the occasional pest. Sealing up and insulating these areas during your home improvement projects for energy efficiency can go a long way toward eliminating drafts and cold flooring on lower levels, in addition to improving your home's energy efficiency and reducing utility bills over the long run. When checking for air leaks and basements and crawl spaces, it's a good idea to take a look at the following areas:
- Underneath the sill plate and around the nearby foundation
- In between rim joists
- Around pass-through areas for wiring and plumbing pipes
- Around basement windows
- Around exterior crawl space doors
Improving DuctsOther home improvement projects for energy efficiency include improvements to your home's heating and cooling ducts. Duct leaks often play a major role in heating losses and higher utility bills. Aging and poorly constructed ductwork can also cause a noticeable decline in indoor air quality, in addition to energy efficiency and overall home comfort. Here's what you should do when it comes to improving ductwork:
- Make searching for air leaks your first priority. Visually inspect the ducts for any cracks or gaps, as well as any kinks, damaged insulation or other forms of damage. For metal ducts, you should always keep your eyes peeled for signs of rust and/or corrosion.
- Inspect the ducts for signs of heavy dust buildup. Leaky ducts not only let conditioned air out, but they also attract large amounts of dust and debris. It’s a good idea to give ducts a thorough cleaning on a regular basis to reduce future dust problems and improve your heating and cooling system’s overall efficiency.
- When sealing ducts, use mastic or aluminum tape. Both are designed to withstand the constant temperature changes faced by the ducts. Don’t use duct tape, as the adhesive can come apart after a short amount of time.
- Identify areas that can be improved with the addition of insulation around or near the ducts. Most heat losses occur when conditioned air passes through uninsulated spaces within your home.
- If you find yourself making major changes to your home’s ductwork, have your contractor perform a Manual J load calculation and a Manual D duct design. This helps the pros design your new ductwork to be more energy efficient than the previous ductwork.
Sealing Doors and WindowsLast but not least on the list of home improvement projects for energy efficiency is weatherstripping and sealing around doors and windows. Energy-wasting leaks around these areas can cost you big time when it comes to utility costs and home comfort. Here are a few tips to help you find and take care of these leaks:
- Position a smoke pen near windows, doors, electrical outlets and other places where you suspect air leakage. A horizontal smoke trail indicates a leak issue.
- Address door and window leaks by installing new weatherstripping around both. For example, a vinyl bulb door threshold can easily stop major drafts that travel underneath the bottom of the door.
- Carefully seal drafts found around electrical outlets, wiring and plumbing pass-throughs and other areas with caulk or foam sealant.
- The short-term solution involves sealing off the flue when the fireplace isn’t in use. An inflatable chimney balloon provides reasonable effectiveness, plus it automatically deflates if it’s left in place when a fire’s started.
- The long-term solution involves replacing and adequately sealing around the base of the flue. This is normally done with sheet metal or aluminum flashing applied at the base, along with an application of silicone caulk to close off any gaps left behind during the installation. Of course, you could also permanently seal your chimney, but you’ll lose its use.