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Stay Comfortable and Save Money with Insulation and Air Sealing

Stay Comfortable and Save Money with Insulation and Air Sealing  

Enoch When we talk about energy efficiency, it’s easy to focus on the money you can save; after all, who doesn’t like to save money? But energy efficiency is also about making your home more comfortable, especially with heating and cooling. The good news is, with proper insulation and air sealing, you can achieve greater comfort and still save money.

Insulation and air sealing both help keep your home at the temperature you’ve set by keeping the indoor air separate from the outdoor air, but they work in different ways. Insulation works as a barrier between indoors and the outdoors and reduces your heating and cooling costs by reducing the amount of heat that is lost or gained through the outer boundaries of your home (primarily walls and ceiling). Air sealing is about eliminating cracks or gaps that can create drafts and allow temperature controlled air to escape your home, or outdoor air to enter your home. Together, they make your home feel more comfortable by maintaining the temperature you’ve set with your heating or cooling system.

One way to think about insulation and air sealing is to think about a cup of coffee: in the summer, iced coffee should stay cold even on the hottest of days, and the winter, hot coffee should stay hot until the last drop. If you were to drink the cup of coffee from a thin cup without a lid it would lose its temperature quickly. The same thing is happening in your home if there isn’t enough insulation or there are air leaks, but unlike the coffee where you can see the ice melt or the steam escape, you can’t always see how much air is escaping from your home.

So how do you figure out how much air is escaping from your home? You can get started by looking for cracks and gaps around electrical outlets, light switch plates, door and window frames, baseboards, wall or window mounted air conditioners, vents, pipes and foundation seals. Once you’ve found the leak, use caulk or weather stripping to seal the crack or gap. You can also enlist an expert to help, by signing up for the Home Energy Solutions (HES) program. As part of the HES energy assessment, a qualified technician conduct a blower door test to determine the cubic feet of air per minute flowing through the home. This is done by placing a tarp over the front door with a built-in industrial fan to depressurize the home. This reverses the airflow and enables the technicians to find the sources of air leaks and drafts with the aid of a smoke stick. Once the leaks have been identified, the technician will make on-the-spot improvements with caulking, spray foam, weather stripping and pipe insulation.

The HES program can also help you determine if your home may need more insulation. For maximum efficiency and comfort, your home should be properly insulated from the roof down to the foundation. Insulation defines the thermal barrier of a building, so you want to make sure it’s installed where the heated/cooled part of your home is adjacent to the outdoors or unfinished space. The most common places to install or improve insulation are in the attic, basement, exterior walls and the rim joist, where the structure of the home meets the foundation. It’s also important to make sure your ductwork is properly insulated and sealed so you’re not losing hot or cold air as it moves throughout the home.

There are many different kinds of insulation, including the traditional fiberglass batts (the pink blanket material), and newer spray foam insulation that can actually insulate and air seal your home. Choosing the right kind of insulation depends on the area you want to insulate, and the recommended thermal performance or R-value, for that area. For help deciding what might work best for you, check out the information provided by the U.S. Department of Energy at energy.gov.

Air sealing and insulation will help you save money on your heating and cooling bills over many years, but there are also rebates and financing options that can help save you money on an installation project. Once you’ve participated in the HES program, the technician will explain to you exactly how you can get rebates and financing that could cover up to 50 percent of the cost and could qualify for zero percent financing for your insulation upgrade.

For more information about energy saving programs and rebates, check out the “Save Energy & Money” section of www.yankeegas.com.

Enoch Lenge is the CL&P and Yankee Gas energy efficiency spokesman. If you're a member of the media and would like to arrange an interview with Enoch, please contact Media Relations.