Volume 56, Issue 1

So, this month, radiant barrier installation is still in process and continues to make a marked difference in the indoor air temperature of our home but it’s not enough…

Enter, window insulation kits. My *other* new best friend.

These were a staple in many homes where I come from: an annual ritual, if you will. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?!? That cold draft coming through the perimeter of my window sashes? Gone! Trapped between the plastic and the window. Good riddance.

“Doesn’t it look bad?” No. You can barely see it and no, the tape doesn’t take paint with it when you’re ready to remove the film.

Now, I don’t know who to give photo credit it, but this image pretty much sums it up!

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For what it’s worth, I had to order these online since the folks at the local home improvement store hadn’t heard of them. There are variety of manufacturers, all of whom make a product that, in my opinion, is actually kinda fun to install: 3M, Frost King and Duck to name a few.

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Volume 53, Issue 5

Boy were we shocked when we got our first energy bill in the winter of 2010! Turns out, trying to keep a drafty house warm is a rather expensive endeavor (and, as you may recall, our floors aren’t insulated). We have been engaged in a number of experiments  to keep energy costs down and the task recently became much easier when we signed up for Entergy’s In-Home Display pilot program. We now have a small meter that lets us know when we have spikes in energy consumption (driven, not surprisingly, by HVAC dependency).

We’ve had to adjust our expectations when it comes to comfort level: no longer do we submit to the standard operating temperature of 68 degrees, year round. In the winter, we get used to being a little more chilly and keep the house at around 65 degrees (and supplement with a space heater as needed). In the summer, we get used to being a little more warm and keep the house at around 78 degrees (and ditch the down comforter).

We also follow these useful tips:

  • Keep TV, stereo, DVD player and gaming devices plugged into one power strip and turn the power strip on and off with use (you may be familiar with the term “vampire appliances”).
  • Routinely change air filters.
  • Adjust water heater temperature to 120 degrees.

What are some ways you stay comfortable and save energy at the same time? Cooling season is upon us! Send me your suggestions and I’ll follow up with the next Monthly Spectator!

Volume 52, Issue 10

Since I wrote about my drafty home in last month’s post, I’ve gotten a few requests to talk about the measures I’m taking to improve energy efficiency! You may recall that our energy consultant was unable to establish a pressure differential in our house such that an effective measurement of air flow could be taken. What I didn’t mention is that while the consultant was performing her blower door test, we walked around the house and felt wind (yes, wind) coming through just about every little hole and fissure in the house. Not surprisingly, it was recommended that we seal just about every little hole and fissure in hopes that less energy would, literally, get thrown out the window. These include:

  • Gaps between window frames and window units.
  • Holes in the mortar joints in our fi replace(s).
  • Gaps between electrical junction boxes and drywall.
  • Gaps between plumbing piping and drywall and/or gaps between plumbing piping and the floor.

Lack of proper weatherstripping was a key factor in the blower door test failure; many of the double hung windows have large gaps between the upper and lower sashes and the wood has shrunken to such a degree that the sashes just aren’t tight fits. A great resource for retrofit weatherstripping can found be found by going to page 70 in this PDF.

Additionally, because one can see daylight through some of the cracks in our wood floors, it was recommended that we insulate either by way of spray foam between floor joists or by securing rigid insulation, continuously, across the bottom of all the floor joists (the latter accouting for thermal breaks and ease of installation).

Needless to say, I’ve been doing lots of climbing on ladders and lots of poking and prodding. Turns out, there is an art to installing spray foam sealant and a variety of brands and types with which to experiment (some expanding far more than others). That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there is another art to energy savings:  Spend less on cooling your home by not setting the thermostat so low!

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My personal preference is DAPTex.