A couple days ago we had a walk through at our soon-to-be new house with an energy efficiency company representative. What fun to finally be getting closer to this aspect of our search for greener housing!
We started in the attic, which desperately needs new insulation, and which he said will be easy to insulate. The sellers had reported using 500 gallons of oil last winter–which seemed like a lot to us. In our current house, which is twice the size, we had used 600 gallons. But we did attic insulation several years ago.
They can take out the plywood floors, take out the old fiberglass insulation, add extensions to raise the height of the wooden floor joists, and then blow in cellulose insulation of several inches to achieve a high R-factor. Put back plywood floors so we can use that area for storage. Create an insulated cover for the pull down ladder, and voila, lower heat bills immediately.
Moving down to the main floor, we learn that our windows aren’t too bad–double pane glass, which we were happy to find out. But he did mention that French doors (which we want to install in the kitchen) can be problematic for air leakage. So I’ve been researching options that might be more environmentally sound. Wow, lots of research is involved in this process! I also called the Maine Green Performance Building Supply to get their opinion–the French doors they recommend can take six weeks to arrive by order. More to think about.
On to the basement, he recommended sealing and insulation at the rim joists, which is the very bottom of the wood frame of the house above the foundation, for those who haven’t been exploring the bones of your own homes. There is already some insulation between the wall board and basement walls that should be okay.
We also talked about air-source heat pumps, and where they might be placed and how many we might use. One unit in the living room, one in the basement, and maybe one small unit in each bedroom to have more control of the temperature–all these units attached to one outdoor unit. Once installed, this would be our primary source of heating and cooling, with oil furnace or wood stove as back up in the coldest days of winter.
He’ll be sending us a full report with pricing estimates next week, and then we can see how we stand. We are also doing a walk through with another energy efficiency company next week, so we’ll have two estimates to compare. It was really satisfying to hear him say that this house is a very good one for making greener.