Case History: Real Home Weatherization
In this home, weatherization leads to energy savings and lower power bills
The little guy is just beginning to walk, a real cutie with blond hair and two fingers in his mouth. It’s nice to know his home is a lot more comfortable and a lot more energy efficient. The homeowner ( and Daddy ) says, “Since the work has been done he can tell the home is less drafty and maintains the temperature in the house much longer.” Daddy is looking forward to the next power bill hoping the savings will be equally noticeable there.
This is a 1500 sq.ft. single story home built in 1978 with two parents, one toddler, two dogs, three rifles, and a room full of Lego’s. The home sits on a quiet culdesac in a nice family neighborhood. On my inspection day, the attic is about 140 degrees, the living area is 76 degrees, and the underfloor crawl space is a very comfortable 60 degrees. Once there, I am in no hurry to leave the crawl space. Some real upgrades involving energy efficient measures have been completed in the last 6 weeks. Here’s the list:
1. Replace the 70% natural draft gas furnace with a new high efficient 96% gas furnace.
2. Install a 14 Seer, whole house air conditioner.
3. Install a Honeywell programmable thermostat. Replaced the round dial, mercury switch, mechanical thermostat.
4. Seal the wire and pipe penetrations in the attic.
5. Add 12 inches of blown fiberglass insulation to the attic. This was added over the top of 5 inches of loose fill fiberglass.
6. Seal the heating ducts using duct mastic with duct blaster confirmation test before and after the work. Before sealing, leakage to the outside was 480 cfm, after sealing, leakage was down to 140 cfm.
7. Wrap the heating ducts with R-11 insulation. The round metal ducts did not have any insulation.
8. Seal the pipe and heating duct penetrations in the floor.
9. Insulate the underfloor hot and cold water supply pipes. The water lines were bare.
10. Install R-30 batt insulation to the underfloor. There was no insulation under the floor.
11. Replace the wood front and back exterior entrance doors and casings with new vinyl insulated doors.
I have my blower door and duct blaster with me because I want to double check the work of the insulation contractor. If the job calls for duct sealing, then, by golly, I want duct sealing. This is an area where I have seen some contractors try and get away with doing a little less than expected because they know the homeowner is probably not going to go to the effort to really check the work. Now, myself on the other hand, when it comes to duct sealing, I can do a real good job of checking the work. The duct blaster test I perform confirms the measurement of 140 cfm leakage to the outside. A visual inspection to the nice 60 degree crawl space confirms the presents of duct mastic covering the connections in the round metal duct system. Looks like the insulation contractor did a good job.
The owner does question the room temperature of the two back bedrooms. He indicates the rooms seem a little cooler when the furnace is in heating mode. Both bedrooms have doors that sit right down on the carpet. Very little space under the doors. Using the monometer, I confirm that with the furnace on and the doors closed, both rooms build up pressure as the air from the furnace enters the room but air cannot get out of the room. I suggest that he leaves the doors open so the rooms can be more pressure balanced. The air in the rooms need to get back to the furnace and reheated so more warm air can get into the rooms. He points to the toe head with two fingers in his mouth and says that leaving the doors open can be a problem. A couple things can be done if doors cannot be left open. Cut the bottom of the door off so there is a larger space between the carpet and the bottom of the door. Install a pass through vent above the door between the top of the door and the ceiling.
With the weatherization work and the upgraded appliances, we have greatly reduced the energy consumption of this home. Power bills will be lower, the people in the home are more comfortable and somewhere there is a power plant that does not have to spill so much carbon into the atmosphere.
Well, I’d better get back to the office…Hope you found saving energy interesting, come back soon…but, I won’t leave the light on for you. Don Ames