Instant Do-It Yourself Energy Audit

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What a wonderful, miserable time of year it is here in old Cleveland, Ohio. One of the few upsides to all of the cold air and snow is that the season provides us with an opportunity to really assess the energy efficiency of our home’s heating and cooling system. Much has been made of “energy audits” these days. And while I certainly don’t intend to demean their value in these green-conscious times, I do want to show you a free and easy way to start targeting one of the bigger problems so many of our homes have.

Do you see the icicles hanging from your home? We get calls almost daily this time of year about problems caused by ice: Broken windows, Fallen gutters and fascia, Crushed sandstone front stoops, Wet and falling plaster, Bubbling paint, Deteriorated soffits, and on and on.

One thing causes icicles: heat loss. It is that simple. And if you are losing heat in the winter, your home is probably too warm in the summer. So should you insulate? Yes. If you can. We have a great referral to a locally-owned insulation company. A child of the family is in preschool with my daughter Eleanor. They are stand-up people to say the least, and their established company does great work at a fair price. So let me know if you want to get in touch with them.Ice+Dam+Illustration

But there are things you can do today that don’t cost money. Do you have a finished third floor? Do you use it? If not, turn of the heat up there. Close the radiator valves or air vents. Be sure to turn off the water valves to any plumbing you might have up there. You don’t need a burst pipe as a result of your efforts. If your attic is unfinished, roll an old beach towel and place it behind the door as you close it. This will seal the gap at the bottom of the door. Every little bit counts. Most of all, turn down the heat in your home. Especially on the second floor. It doesn’t need to be as warm up there where you sleep. Treating your heat as a system, tailored to your lifestyle will help prevent unnecessary heat loss through the roof.

If your home is insulated, and you still have massive icicles, consider adding soffit vents. Roofs like to be the same temperature as the outside air. Circulating air beneath the shingles will accomplish this as well as prolong the life of the roof. Asphalt shingles get brittle and curl in the hot summer sun if they aren’t being cooled by circulating air beneath them. A house needs to breathe!

So conduct your own energy audit. And notice your neighbors’ homes as you drive down your street. I guarantee that the homes with lots of white puffy snow still on their roofs and only a modest line of pretty little icicles are the ones that are well-insulated and sensibly heated. That, or they were foreclosed on, the heat is off, and no one lives there anymore…..but that’s a discussion for another day.
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