Does your home have ice dams on the roof? Are there cold rooms or cold spots in the home? Are you dreading your next heating bill? Has anyone looked at your heating system lately? We can help with all these things! Almost every home out there, even if recently built, can be improved upon. And this is not just a money saving issue. Indoor air quality has become a huge issue. 20 million people have asthma including 6.3 million children. Since 1980 the biggest growth in asthma has been in children under 5. In 2000 asthma related emergencies and hospitalizations cost an estimated $2 billion. We have the training to address air quality issues.
Lakeside Advanced Builders became an Energy Star Ally in Wisconsin in 2007. The Energy Star program has incentives for people who have an Energy Star Consultant do a blower door test and combustion safety test. The blower door test is done by depressurizing the home and then using a thermal imaging camera to find cold or leaky spots in the home. The combustion safety test is done to ensure that the heating system and hot water heater are drafting properly so no one gets carbon monoxide poisoning. We would advise anyone thinking about changing windows, doors, or insulation to get a combustion safety test. We have been in 8 homes since September ’07 that have had probable carbon monoxide leaks. If you change a door or window you could then trap the gas in the home, where in the past it went out that leaky window. Then the consultant makes a prioritized list of improvements so you would know what needs to be done first, second, and so on and the approximate payback. After the home is tested, you could do the work yourself or have an Energy Star Ally come in and air seal and insulate the home. When the work is done, the home is retested to verify how much improvement has been made. All improvements do not have to be done right away but you would have a list of where to start. The Focus on Energy program has incentives for different improvements done to the home.
The most common things to be done on existing homes are air sealing and adding insulation. Air sealing is finding and sealing all the holes in your building envelope where air is leaking into your home. It is said by some that a home needs to breathe. In reality, the home should be as tight as possible and then using mechanical ventilation you control the air movement in your home. This is a proven way to save money and get improved air quality at the same time. It is estimated that utility bills can go down as much as 20% just by air sealing your attic and having the proper insulation up there. The entire exterior of your home should be looked at by someone trained to identify problem areas and provide solutions. Lakeside Advanced Builders does not have to have the home tested to make improvements but it is recommended. Thermal imaging pictures show exactly where the problems are so it is easier to fix.Another large problem area in many homes is the cement footing or basement walls exposed to the cold outside air. These should be covered with rigid foam or, in the case of stone walls, foam sprayed on to insulate these surfaces. The foam then has to be covered with stucco or other coating to prevent it from deteriorating in the sunlight. An uninsulated cement wall has an R-value of about 1. When it is 20 below outside this is a tremendous heat loss area. The foam should be installed at least 2′ below ground level. Crawl spaces should be insulated on the outside also and a vapor barrier sealed over the ground to stop moisture and soil gases from entering the home. This moisture and gas can effect the indoor air quality and the structural integrity of the home.
Air sealing your home and adding insulation also works in the summer! It is harder to put a number on it, but the air conditioner doesn’t have to run as much and you can be more comfortable. Air sealing and insulating are the first steps in improving your utility costs and it is good for the environment as well. If you have questions, do not hesitate to call! We want to help!