Love The One One You are With
Dear Comfort Advisor,
With the real estate market very much on the skids our plans to sell our home and move to a larger one are indefinitely on hold. Our home from the 50’s is a gas guzzler and uncomfortable to boot. Money is tight so where to start?
Dear Baby Boomer Bob,
That reminds me of a song from the 60’s “Love the One Your With”. We may not have the perfect home, in the perfect neighborhood, but it is a roof over your head and certainly where we call home. Without the possibility of moving out of a problem property it may be time to meet the challenges head on. I see many modifications to homes over the years that are made with short sighted mindset. A lack of consideration for long term sustainability creates inefficiency and reliability issues with heating and indoor air quality. As far as the structure itself, modifications over the years, especially those done in an attempt to make the house more “in vogue” with the times sometimes creates an interesting mix of old and new.
If you are considering some level of remodel, get back to basics with a keen eye on improving efficiency. Lowering your monthly utility bills will go a long way towards paying for some other more “attractive” improvements. Hopefully your furnace isn’t from the 50’s (many are!) like your home. The heating of most homes is approximately 57% of your utility budget.
“You can put all the curly bulbs in you want, but if you really want to make a dent, look at your heating system.”
With all the amazing technological advances, 95% efficiency, and tax incentives in the thousands, there has never been a better time. The federal incentives are over at the end of December so don’t think for too long. By squeezing as few more years out of the beast in the basement it’s not saving you money, it’s costing!
Whatever you use to keep your home warm, it would be nice to use less of it. I harp on reducing heat losses by detailing the shell of the building. This is labor intensive but well worth it. Caulking, spray foams, rigid board insulation, and elbow grease combine to create a more efficienct shell. I do blower door testing to determine the amount of leaks and where there are. Before and after tests will make sure you did your job. With most small and large remodels, windows are always a part of it. It is amazing what a few new windows, an energy efficienct storm door and a coat of paint will do for the curb appeal of a home. Looks great and saves money! I must forewarn you though that many windows in homes I have tested leak like a sieve. Not the window mind you but all the way around. Proper installation is critical. And a home your age will need to be tested for lead based paint so it is a good idea to work with contractors that are registered EPA Lead-Safe Certified Firms such as mine.
The short answer to your question of “where to start” is to do some research, establish a budget, and keep it realistic. There is a website that I use, Energy and Environmental Building Association (www.eeba.org). It is the library for efficient thinkers. One book in particular is “Builders Guide to Cold Climates”. Remodels, new construction and just tons of great general building information are shown with great detail and explanation. Have fun saving energy! I you have questions give me a call at AirWorks @ 257-1341.