With spring's constantly changing temperatures, I am very happy with my recent audit! Not an IRS audit, thank goodness – a home energy audit from Green Iowa Americorps.
In February, two boss young ladies in boots and stocking hats lugged tubs and totes of lightbulbs, fans, and other equipment through my front door and asked to look in the attic. I’ve only been up there once—just enough to poke my head through the insulation and glance around—so I was immediately impressed by their heroism.
After determining the attic was acceptably insulated, one of them donned a pair of my slippers and braved the basement. There, she tested for a carbon monoxide back-draft from our water-heater and furnace, and checked gas pipes for leaks prior. Meanwhile, the other young woman went room to room with me swapping out incandescent and CFL bulbs for LEDs, meaning I won’t be changing a light bulb at home for at least a decade.
The basement passed inspection, but things got gloomy after that. A blower door test revealed that our 120-year-old home (which is exactly the kind of house I wanted) is pretty drafty. This has always been obvious to us, but it was still shocking to see on the screen of a thermal camera. A properly-sealed home exchanges all its air with the outdoors about three times per hour. The blower test revealed that ours does nearly double that.
While the blower was running, the girls took me to every baseboard, door, and window. Not only could I see the cold spots on the screen (giving me flashbacks to every ghost-hunting show I’ve ever seen), I could feel cold air rushing in through seems and outlets on exterior walls.
Not to worry, though, because the wonder women would come back and fix all our problems! The energy audit is free, the knowledge is free, and so is the return visit. We’d pay for caulk, weather stripping, foam covers for our outlets, and light bulbs, but they’d do all the work – and I’d be watching and learning, becoming a better homeowner.
When they returned, there were three helpers instead of two. They split up and conquered each room’s windows and doors, baseboards, and outlets individually, then reconnected the blower to the front door to compare our home’s seal before and after the updates. The difference was overwhelming. Where I'd previously felt gale-force winds gushing into our home, I now felt not even a whisper of a breeze. They spent a solid two hours caulking and weather-stripping, and I, for a whopping $42 in supplies, am one happy customer.
This amazing resource is provided by Green Iowa AmeriCorps of Decorah. Call (563) 382-4207 ext. 2 to schedule your own assessment. Low-to-moderate income households, veterans, elderly, and disabled receive the supplies for efficiency upgrades and air-sealing free of charge.
Photo courtesy of Kamil Kaczor of Flickr's Creative Commons.