2: Seal and weatherize your house
By Diane Veto Parham | Illustrations by David Clark
Cost: Ranges from a few dollars for weather stripping and caulk to thousands of dollars for whole-house weatherization.
Benefit: Annual energy savings of 10 to 20 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
DIY potential: You can do simple tasks; professionals should handle large-scale insulation or ductwork improvements.
You’re paying to heat and cool your home. You can minimize costs and maximize comfort by keeping that conditioned air indoors, where you want it.
“Make sure your house is well insulated and well sealed,” says Alan Shedd, director of energy solutions for Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. “Don’t go install a fancy heating system or pile on a bunch of insulation in a house that’s Swiss cheese.”
Most houses leak 10 percent or more of their conditioned air into attics and crawlspaces, Shedd says.
A handy do-it-yourselfer can tackle simple sealing tasks, such as sealing air leaks around windows with caulk (see video below).
Feel for drafts or look for cracks and gaps around windows and doors, around electrical outlets and light fixtures, where pipes and wires penetrate walls, floors or ceilings, around fireplaces, and where ceilings meet walls. Basic DIY materials like weather-stripping tape, tubes of caulk and spray foam are available at home improvement stores.
If you invested in a professional home-energy audit, you know exactly where air is leaking and what repairs are needed. For fixes outside your skill set — for example, adding insulation or repairing leaky ductwork — ask your co-op for a list of certified contractors or visit BPI’s website.
“An air-sealing and insulation job ranges in cost from $3,000 to $5,000, depending on the materials used,” says John Jones, national technical director for BPI. “A complete, market-based home-performance project — full energy improvements — typically costs between $9,800 and $12,500, depending on the geographic region and the contractor.”
Source: NRECA/America's Electric Cooperatives