At work, we played a fun game called Cool Choices. To earn points, every day for 6 weeks, players make environmentally sustainable choices such as carpooling, driving the speed limit, and turning the water off when brushing teeth (duh). Different actions are worth different points. The game made sustainability more fun and competitive. It was great!
So what does this have to do with my Green House Challenge? As part of the game, I chose to get a home energy audit. It was performed by a certified professional, and the cost can be credited towards an energy efficiency project (such as new insulation). I knew we needed new insulation in our attic, so this was an easy choice.
During the in-depth audit, I learned A LOT about my house and energy efficiency. Did you know that in terms of insulation, often one of the weak points is can lighting? Frequently there is no insulation above can lights which means that on cold winter days, the nice warm air from my house is blowing right into my attic. This was demonstrated during the audit with a small smoke device. When it was held next to the light, I could see the smoke billowing which showed the draft from my attic.
I also learned that new windows are a terrible energy efficiency investment in terms of pay back period. You’re better off sealing existing windows or adding insulation to your attic and walls. Of course, sometimes new windows provide other benefits like better functionality or appearance.
So what are the audit results? We got an 8 of 10 for the home energy score. And the blow door test was ~5 meaning that our house is somewhat leaky. Best of all, the audit gave me a road map for future home projects. In terms of tangible, immediate actions, I worked with my Dad to seal a 4″ hole between my basement and garage. Less conditioned air getting out and less mice getting in. I should have sealed that hole earlier! Overall, I highly recommend a home energy audit especially if you need new insulation.