Energy Efficiency for Economy and Ecology

Last month I had the privilege of being invited to attend a meeting of the North Central West Virginia Home Builders Assoc. (NCWVHBA) Their guest speaker was Kelly Bragg with the West Virginia Office of Energy. It was very interesting to learn about energy efficiency in home construction and I thought this would be a really good theme for this month’s articles.
As homeowners, energy efficiency is very important in budgeting our bills. Newly constructed homes meet certain guidelines to help in this, but what if you live in an older home like I do? My home was build in the late 1800s so it certainly doesn’t meet today’s standards even though, thank goodness, it’s been updated a time or two since then. But how do we know where our home could use a little help?
A homes thermal performance is key to efficiency. That is how well your walls, roof, and foundation are sealed keeping the inside air in and the outside air out. Hiring a professional to perform a blower test will measure how much air is escaping and from where. Windows and doors are the biggest culprits and having this test done is a great start to fixing any problems. It’s pretty simple, a large fan is temporarily affixed to one of your exterior doors and while running the pressure is measured inside and out. Once you know the problem areas you can talk with a contractor on the best ways to address them.
A higher tech version uses infrared cameras that visually show where a home may need some attention. Photos from the outside will show where heat is escaping, while those from the inside will show where cold is creeping in. This is particularly useful if you’re wondering how well insulated your walls are but aren’t Superman with x-ray vision to see what’s in there. Blown insulation can provide the perfect fix at that point, assuring your heating and cooling systems aren’t being overly taxed and running too hard.
These two examples are great for getting a grasp on the bigger picture of how your home stacks up. It’s the perfect example of how a small upfront investment and the guidance of professionals can save you money in the long run. It’s also a great way to help trim back on use of our natural resources. Climate change is quite the buzz word these days, and many people are getting more cognizant and concerned with their footprints and making them smaller. Being a woman of 5’8” I certainly know about leaving large footprints, but when it comes to the carbon ones not so much. You wouldn’t think housing and climate change have much in common, but they really do.
As we switch from ‘heat’ to ‘cool’ consider having someone come out and perform one or both of these tests. Your wallet, and mother earth, will be glad you did. I hope you’re enjoying the warming trend of the season and this has given you some food for thought. And remember, if there are any real estate questions you’ve always wanted answered I’m just an email away.

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