November 25, 2015

There are some measures you as a homeowner can take on your own to "button up" your home for the winter season, but how will you know if your efforts are paying off?

Because the house is a system and each component of your home – building envelope, heating, A/C, insulation, mechanical ventilation, appliances —affects the performance of other parts, BPI recommends you start with an energy audit by a certified professional before making changes on your own.

Energy auditors use specialist diagnostic tools, such as a blower door and perhaps an infrared camera, that are not likely to be found in the average DIY homeowner's kit. They assess the air leakage in the home's building envelope, as well as health and safety concerns, such as mold, mildew, gas leaks from appliances and CO testing. From this information they develop an audit report that prioritizes improvements in your home based on most cost effective to least cost effective. The auditor will be able to tell you what you can tackle yourself and what you may need a professional to do.

Some methods of winterizing your home that you or a hired contractor can complete involve:

  • Programmable thermostats – Installing a programmable thermostat that automatically turns the heat down during parts of the day when you don't need it can save you both energy and money.
  • Furnace filters – Check and change the filter on your furnace or HVAC system once a month, especially during heating season. Clogged filters force an HVAC system to work harder, reducing equipment life.
  • Heating systems – Hire a qualified contractor to keep your furnace clean, lubricated and properly adjusted, increasing its efficiency.
  • Water heaters – Most water heaters don't need to be set at the installer's temperature. Turn it down to 120 degrees or more to save on water heating costs.
  • Light bulbs – Replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient compact fluorescents or LED bulbs, both of which use less energy to produce the same amount of light.
  • Laundry – Switch to cold water wash for laundry. Heating water represents about 15 percent of a typical home energy bill.

For larger improvements, such as installing insulation in your attic and basement and around your pipes, sealing ductwork and thoroughly air sealing the building envelope of your home, we recommend hiring a BPI GoldStar Contractor. They test before and after improvements are made to make sure everything is working as it should and that the home's mechanical ventilation is working properly. BPI GoldStar Contractors are committed to following BPI technical standards in their work and to employing BPI certified professionals.

What have you done in the past to winterize your home? Did it increase the comfort level of your home throughout the colder months?

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