Wondering which route to go first with home energy efficiency upgrades? Here’s some advice:
Fix the leaks first. Adding insulation to your attic and crawl spaces saves money and makes your home more comfortable, but it won’t do much good if you don’t seal up places where air and moisture can leak in and out of your house. These likely-to-leak places include space around chimneys that run through your attic, electrical wiring conduits and where lighting is installed in your ceiling. Seal before you insulate, so moist air can’t enter in these spaces and cause moisture problems later on.
Windows are good, but walls are better. Many people turn to window replacement as a first step to greater energy efficiency. And while replacing old windows with new, highly efficient ones is a good investment, there are other less expensive ways to gain greater energy savings. Consider focusing first on wall insulation to reap greater efficiency for less cost.
Your furnace might not need replacing—yet. It’s true that older furnaces are less efficient than newer ones. If your home is uncomfortable or drafty, chase the leaks! Air sealing and insulation could solve your drafty house problem, as drafts are often caused by air leaks and ineffective insulation. Creating a tighter, more efficient home by sealing and insulating can make you more comfortable and get you a few more years out of your furnace before it needs to be replaced.
Don’t forget about indoor air. Many people undertake efficiency projects without simultaneously considering potential problems with indoor air quality. Sealing and insulating a home can do wonders for comfort and your energy bills, but if your indoor air is contaminated by mold, mildew, moisture or radon, you’re sealing in the bad air and potentially harming the people inside. Get your home’s indoor air quality tested, and have any problems addressed, like duct sealing, at the same as your efficiency upgrade, and you’ll make sure that your family stays healthy and comfortable.