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Anyone ever get an energy assessment or inspection to get increased heat efficiency?

Post in 'The Green Room' started by tickbitty, Jul 28, 2011.

  1. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Jeremy,

    We had Masssave done a few years ago. Their subcontractor was excellent for airsealing and insulation. A nice group of guys, very professional and cleaned up well. They must be putting in quite a bit of insulation for that price. It is well worth it. Their air seal guy found all sorts of penetrations that I was not aware of. They sealed every pipe and wire penetration going up through the floors. Just the air sealing alone was an eye opener and worth it.

    I think you will find their subcontractor good, as this program is a huge account for them, and they do not want any bad customer experiences to lose that account.

    I need to remove my existing can lights in my kitchen. The were pulling a bit of air up through the fixtures and into the framing.

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  2. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    ;) Yes its a fair bit.

    We have about 40 linear feet of uninsulated outer walls on the first floor to get blown in.
    30 ft outer wall on the second floor gable ends.
    50-60 linear ft x 6ft of slope ceiling on the second floor.
    ~ 50 ft of kneewall and kneewall floor space on the second floor

    Probably close to 900 sq ft total of wall and ceiling area to be insulated.

    If cone all over the house with spray foam and caulk sealing everything I could find but Im sure the pro's will find a lot more.


    Funny you mention the can lights, I have the same problem. We have 4 old uninsulated can lights in the kitchen cathedral ceiling that I believe are not only loosing heat but are a big culprit in my ice dam problem. I'm going to put in airtight IC cans, pack insulation behind them and try those new Home Depot LED floodlights @ $29. That should make a big difference.
  3. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    When the Massave guy blew cellulose int the walls near my kitchen, some of it went up against the cans over my sink and overheated them. Those are already replaced with pendant ceiling fixtures. The ones down the middle are next.

    Led lights are interesting. I may wait until the price drops a bit more.
  4. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    Interesting thread. I'm actually getting one done tomorrow. No cost for the audit. Paid for by NYS. I'll post the findings and details of the inspection.
  5. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Paid for by NYS? Is that when upgrades are performed?
  6. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I answered my question, I think-just looked at the NYSERDA stuff, and it seems not too hard to qualify. I sent in the electronic form. Let's see what happens.
  7. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    The auditor showed up today at 9:00 as expected and was at my house until just about 1:00. He concentrated on the insulation in my home and performed a variety of tests, including the blower door test, and then brought me around the house to show where air was leaking using the smoke test.
    He expressed concern for several areas that could use some insulation, but to my surprise did not recommend new windows. Mine are original to the house, 1971, single pane with storms.

    He was a very nice guy who answered all my questions and made sure to point out a variety of things to me with full explanations.

    I will have more information when I get the full report in about a week.

    Velvetfoot, did you remember to include your utility bills?
    I got a response from NYS within a day or two, so I would expect you will be hearing from them very quickly.

    Good luck.
  8. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Thats good... means the guy knows his stuff and is not just a window salesman. good luck.
  9. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Did he perform thermal imaging?

    I'm a proponent of addressing air leakage first but conductive heat losses need to be considered also.
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Hi Jaugust124.

    The form didn't ask for bills, so I called up the fuel oil guy I used and got the gallons used and got the electric usage from the utility web site; hopefully that's good enough.
    I think I'm pretty well set for insulation but I'm interested in the leakage.
  11. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    Semipro,
    No thermal imaging was done. He did not have the equipment. I did ask him about it though, kind of got a vague response. Something about usually that is done for much older homes. Perhaps he did not want to but the equipment. I imagine its fairly pricey.
    He did spend time searching out the amount of insulation in the house. I mentioned to him that I had some pretty big ice dams last year and while we were in the attic he pointed out my need for some better air flow up there, particularly near the soffits. I have about r-38 in the attic, but probably could use a little more while I'm at it.

    Velvetfoot, near the bottom of the application it mentioned in small print that you should include 12-24 months of utility bills. At least the application I filled out did. Good luck and let us know how you make out.
  12. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    Forgot to mention - today I spent a few hours caulking around the outlets and adding the foam covers behind the outlets and switches. Caulked the sill plate in the basement and started adding some insulation to the hot water pipes. When that's done, I think I am going to insulate the attached portion of the garage. Not sure what to use though. Maybe someone could clue me in. Should I go with the 1" foil backed which adds an r value of 6ish I think or go with the 1" blue stuff. I think the r value is about the same as I recall. Any advice would be appreciated.
  13. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Only certain foam can you leave exposed, and in a garage? Who knows?

    I think those kid protectectors that you plug in also stop some breeze.

    Since I had fiberglass blown in over the existing 38 batt (I think), I'm reluctant to even look in the attic. Not that I wasn't before.

    -Still no response. I had sent the form in by email.
  14. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    Regarding the foam insulation in the garage, I was just looking online and read that that might be an issue. I know I've seen it done, but I don't know what the code is around here. I will call the local building inspector tomorrow.
    I was also checking to see what is recommended for attic insulation in our area and I found anywhere from R-38 to R-60 depending on the website. Sounds like you're attic is in good shape.
  15. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Did the inspector look under the insulation?

    If you have ice dams in an R-38 attic, then you definitely have zero ventilation to the outside, a large airleak to the conditioned space that needs to be fixed by airsealing, or both.

    Finding the leaks under the insulation can be a lil tricky--I had the same problem. I used a combination of looking at snow melt patterns on my roof, an IR thermometer (which showed a small increase in temp, ~1°F, on the insulation /decking above the leaks), and thinking about the framing of my house. Start on the plumbing stack and chimney. We go after can lights and junction boxes and outlets, but I had 100x those leaks built into my framing and buried under insulation.
  16. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    The inspector looked under the insulation where he could. The attic doesn't have much of a floor in it, so its tough to really get around up there. He mentioned that the eaves of the attic looked mostly blocked with insulation, restricting the air flow. He suggested installing rafter vents to allow air flow. I would imagine there are likely some air leaks as well. He did spot one area that showed some discolored insulation, which he stated was a sign of an air leak. Oddly, it was not above any vents or holes in the ceiling whatsoever. Not sure why there would be an air leak above an enclosed ceiling, unless its being drawn in from another source.
  17. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    I've always wondered just how effective sealing outlets and such is. Its seems to me that its better to put your efforts into sealing the outer envelope of the house than to try and address leaks that have already gotten past that envelope. I'm not saying I don't seal outlets, I do. When i do it I always wonder if I'm just not forcing the infiltrating air to come in somewhere else (e.g. the baseboards, around door and window trim).

    With respect to the foam: I would take into account that the foil creates a vapor barrier (unless its perforated). Foam without foil reduces vapor intrusion but not entirely. You don't want to create water problems where you had none before.
  18. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    If he'd have done thermal imaging he would probably have noted the losses through the single glazed windows. However, if the storms seal well enough it might not be that bad, maybe even comparable to basic double glazed windows.

    Thermal imaging also helps identify air leaks and voids in insulation.
  19. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    Talked to the local building inspector today about insulating the garage wall attached to the house. Its already been sheet rocked, so I thought I would just slap some 1" foam on top of it with construction adhesive to get an extra R-6. Being that its in the garage, all the rules change. The insulation does need to be fire resistant according to the building inspector, but he wasn't exactly sure of the particulars. He did mention that fire resistant paint would alleviate any problems. That stuff runs about at least $60 per gallon. One gallon would probably do it though. Benjamin Moore makes some as does Sherwin Williams.

    What's everyone's opinion on the effort and cost versus the return? I would probably need about 5-6 sheets of insulation, the construction adhesive and the paint. If I figure roughly $20+- per sheet of 1" insulation, $5 per tube of adhesive - 3 tubes, and the paint $65. I'm pushing the $200+ point. The wall would be easy enough to cover. There are no outlets, shelves, or other major obstacles to work around, and the chimney takes up a good portion of wall space. I would be gaining the R-6 in a wall that I believe has 3.5" fiberglass in it already which should be an R-11.

    So the questions still stands, Is it worth it?


    By the way, I would like to apologize to the moderators as I feel like I have hijacked this thread.
  20. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    The air sealing is not just about stopping air coming in. In the heating season its more about stopping warm air getting out. In that regard sealing all penetration from the inside, including outlets, is important to help prevent warm humid indoor air get into the wall cavities where it can trap moisture in the insulation.
  21. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    IF you google 'attic airsealing' you will get a lot of helpful info....but in a nutshell, you want to airseal the floor of your attic from the conditioned space. The primary air barrier is going to be the drywall under the joists (fiberglass does NOT airseal). The major leaks in this envelope are usually left by the framers who built the house--plumbing stack and duct chases, knee walls that intersect the attic, level changes in a split level, and chimney chases. I had about 10 sq ft (!) total opening from the conditioned space (wall cavity) to my attic from that sort of thing. Also important are load bearing walls under the attic. Basically some of the walls are put in before the ceiling joists (to carry the joists) and the wooden top plates of those walls are visible in the attic. Other walls are put in after the ceiling drywall, so those top plates are invisible in the attic (sealed). Depending on the drywall installer, the top plates of the load bearing walls may have a small or large gap b/w the the drywall and the plate, that vents the wall cavity to the attic. In my case, I had a 1/8"-1/4" gap that was about 110' long overall, which works out to ~2 sq ft total opening.

    Not really pleasant work, but I got all that sealed in ~20 hours of DIY time. Based on before/after comparison am saving about ~100 gal/oil per yr just from the sealing on a 3 bdrm house. More to the point thought, the house is more comfortable (less drafty), can be humidified more easily in the winter (which makes us all get sick less), prob less pollen leaking in in the spring, and much reduced ice damming. Better humidity control during A/C season as well, for better comfort and savings.

    Given that airflow is driven by stack/chimney effect, efforts in the attic and rim joist areas have the best impact.

    Of course, if I could have had someone do this (right) for me for a reasonable price, I would have paid them happily.
  22. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Good point.

    I guess my point though is that it should be easier to create an airtight barrier at the outside. It would be practically impossible to do so on the inside unless you did it during the original build. Apparently they do this in Europe as airtight drywall.

    In either case water vapor within the walls needs a way out which is, of course, the idea behind house wraps like Tyvek.
  23. laynes69

    laynes69 Minister of Fire

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    We found 32 open cavities from interior walls that were open to our attic. The idiots placed half a batt of unfaced insulation in the holes and blew cellulose on top. There was bad airloss in the home. We capped those cavities with fireproof caulking and sheetmetal. After that I found at least a 1" gap around the perimiter at the top plates. Before airsealing we couldn't keep the house 68 degrees when it was 20 degrees out. After capping the cavities we were able to heat the house at 70 degrees when it was -5 outside. Since then we have sealed the perimeter leaks and went from 3" to 14"+ of cellulose as well as all top plates, electrical penetrations and removed all old chimneys and sealed those as well. This winter we will find out how everything pans out. The blower test we had done proved the need for more airsealing. I know the problem areas we have now and have to wait for the money to do them.
  24. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Well done laynes. You'll find this one of the best investments you've ever made. It will keep paying back year round, every year.
  25. Jaugust124

    Jaugust124 Feeling the Heat

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    So, I received my energy assessment the other day and the inspector listed a number of insulation issues in our house with the solutions and costs to remedy the problems. Totals come to over $8900 if their company does the work. Ouch! There are many fixes that I can handle myself - such as insulating the pipes in the basement, insulating the basement ceiling, adding rafter vents, caulking around windows and doors. The rafter vents will be a pain in the neck, as I have very little flooring in the attic and there is already insulation up there that has to get moved.

    He also suggested adding a layer of cellulose in the attic to bring it to an R-46.

    The second story of our home is cantilevered about 24" and he suggested taking down the soffits and adding a plywood sub soffit and blowing in dense packed insulation. Total length of that is about 50 ft. or so at a cost of just over $1800. That I may consider down the road.

    Unfortunately, due to Irene, our septic tank collapsed taking part of our sidewalk with it. Along with a new leech field, we incurred a $7000 unexpected expense to fix everything. So, the other home improvements are going to be on hold for just a bit. I will try to do the minor fixes and take care of the rafter vents before winter sets in.

    Woodgeek, Thanks for the advice as well on the air sealing in the attic. The report I got mentioned that as well. I should be able to handle taking care of that as well.

    Laynes - Great job!

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