To help residents combat winter drafts and leaks, the Madison Environmental Commission asked Ciel Power for its top DIY tips. Ciel Power, a NJ Clean Energy-certified contractor, provides Madison’s $49 home energy audits. Here’s are simple steps recommended by Ciel Power’s founder, Scott Thomas Fisher:
Add weather stripping. The New York Times reports that “as little as $3 worth of window caulking can reduce home energy usage by as much as 20 percent.” Adding weatherstripping to the doorway of your attic or pull-down staircase helps keep heat from escaping into the attic.
Pay attention to cobwebs and melting snow. If the snow on the shady side of your roof is melting quickly, there’s a good chance that warm air is reaching the underside of your roof, causing the snow above to melt. Seeing cobwebs? These abandoned spider webs nature’s way of pointing out gaps in your home that might benefit from a bead of caulk or a touch of foam
Insulate your attic. For Beth, an energy auditor for Ciel Power LLC, a lack of attic insulation is an all-to-familiar sight. “For me, it’s like wearing your hat in the winter.” In Beth’s evaluations, a yardstick is helpful to measure the depth of attic insulation. “It’s really important and I’m always happy when I see more than fifteen inches, particularly in older homes.”
Retrofit recessed lights. Older recessed lights are ventilated to allow heat generated by the bulb to escape the fixture. Lights located in the ceiling of the rooms beneath your home’s attic can transform light fixtures into not-so-little chimneys, providing an unobstructed escape route for warm air. What to do with these older lights? A simple solution is to replace the bulb and decorative housings of your lights with LED retrofit kits. These kits combine the bulb and housing into an aesthetically pleasing one-piece retrofit that saves energy two ways; by using less wattage to generate light, and by cutting off air-flow to the attic above.
Don’t forget the basement. As warm air escapes through the attic, it simultaneously pulls air into your home through a home’s lower regions, including basements and crawlspaces. An afternoon of caulking around basement windows and sealing electrical and plumbing penetrations with spray foam will make a noticeable difference in your home’s comfort.