For those of you who know ally Harris Gross from Engineers for Home Inspections, then you know he knows his stuff about making “home” a better place to live!
Thanks Harris for answering some common questions that homeowners have about energy efficiency. Harris truly loves what he does and for an engineer he is very chatty, so if you have more questions after you read this I’m sure Harris would like to hear from you!
1. With energy prices so high, what are some (cheap!) ways to make my home more energy-efficient?
a. Seal the gaps around any holes in the ceiling. When you take an outlet cover plate off, usually a gap around the junction box is obvious. Well for each light fixture in the ceiling, this same gap is present. Other places such gaps exist are around smoke detectors, bathroom exhaust fans, etc. A 1/8” gap around the perimeter of a junction box equates to a 1.5” x 1.5” hole in the ceiling, per box. With 10 boxes, that’s a big hole in your ceiling. Gaps can
be sealed with caulk, good tape, etc.
b. Seal the holes in your ductwork with aluminum backed (foil) tape. This prevents 20 to 40% of the expensive conditioned air from escaping into your utility area, crawl space or attic and brings it to the living area, where it
c. Insulate the ductwork and HVAC unit. This will GREATLY improve the operating efficiency of your system. The cost of insulation will be paid back quickly with lower heating and cooling costs and a more comfortable living area. Fiberglass insulation is great on the ducts but only use aluminum backed (no paper-backed) insulation around the furnace (do not cover any vent holes). Also, don’t insulate the hot round pipe (flue) coming from the unit. ITS AS EASY AS WRAPPING A PACKAGE! A MUST for those with duct work and HVAC units in attics, crawl spaces or chilly areas.
2. What should I be looking for proactively in my home every winter to ensure that my home is energy-efficient? This might include my furnace, windows, insulation.
Once your home is made energy-efficient, keeping the home efficient is easy. All it takes is a review of the steps you’ve already taken to ensure everything is working correctly. Don’t be afraid to blow out a match to see which way smokes travels (to pick up the direction of the air flow) or to run your hand along a wall to check for cold spots. Our country has an energy crisis and 40 % of the country’s energy use is in the home!
If your home has radiator heat, it’s a must to “bleed” the system of air at least once per season.
3. What is the future of energy efficiency and the cost(s) associated with it?
The future of energy efficiency is pushed, or not pushed, by the cost of energy. If the cost of existing energy is low, then slow strides will be made to improve energy efficiency. If energy costs are high, then there is a lot of motivation to improve. LED bulbs are the next wave. They run on very little energy and have a lot of light. 90 % of
the energy of an incandescent bulb is lost to heat.
Currently, we have 95 % efficient heaters that are very available. This means $0.95 of every $1 is used to generate heat. If you have a 65 % efficient heater, as a lot are, then you get only $0.65. So to calculate your payback, if you spend an average of $100 per month on heat, you can save $30/month with a new high
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Harris Gross ~ Engineers for Home Inspections
~ (215) 510-5008 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org ~