MONTPELIER, Vt. –
“I’ve been doing energy efficiency work in Vermont since the mid-70s,” says Malcom Gray with Montpelier Construction.
He’s is putting all of that experience to good use; he’s prepping homes for the cold months.
Cutting those heating bills starts with changes in the attic.
“So this is up into the attic; you can see we’ve insulated the walls here,” he says.
If your attic isn’t properly insulated, the heat from the floors below is allowed to escape.
“Put two inches of foam on the floor, put plywood and then we did plywood insulation dam around the space, then gave them storage. With the rest of it, 12 plus inches of loose cellulose,” he says.
Cellulose insulation is simply recycled paper. According to Gray, it’s green and more efficient than traditional fiberglass insulation.
A lot of heat can also be lost in the basement.
“An old stone foundation has an R value a little less than two,” he says.
R value is a measure of the efficiency of insulation. Gray says an R value of two is equivalent to a single pane of glass.
“We glue this 2.5 inches of rigid foam on the side of the wall, and this foam has a special coating that serves as a 15-minute barrier,” he says.
This foam is installed about a foot below grade, bringing the R value up to a respectable 20.
Reporter Nick Borelli: “On your average home what does something like this cost?”
Gray: “It’s about 2,500 to 4,000 dollars for the basement and pretty much the same, if not a little less, for the attic.”
The home we were in saw about a 30 percent reduction in heat loss; this means in about 4 to 8 years the project essentially pays for itself.
In order to be as efficient as possible, you need to minimize air leakage, something that Gray tests using a blower door.
“The air exhausted is like a 25 mph wind on all exterior surfaces,” he says.
Once the air is blown out, it acts as a vacuum on the house.
“We’re just checking surfaces to see if there’s any air leakage around them, and this is a pretty tight installation,” Gray says.
The owners of this house elected to put in new windows, and added seals around the doors. But if any areas were leaking Gray would fix them.
Behavioral changes can make a difference in heating cost too.
Matt Sharpe with Efficiency Vermont recommends turning down the temp.
“You can do things like set back your thermostat and you can save about 2-3 percent of your energy bill for every degree you set back for a 24 hour period,” he says.
But if you want to do better than that, it’s a good idea to thoroughly insulate and seal your home. Thankfully there are people like Gray who can help us get the job done.
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s dirty, nasty work, but it’s also a lot of fun,” Gray says.
There is a program through Efficiency Vermont where you can get up to $2,100 back in rebates when you have work done by an energy star contractor. For more information on this, please go to: https://www.efficiencyvermont.com/For-My-Home/ways-to-save-and-rebates/audits-insulation-air-sealing/Insulation