We completed our $100 home energy audit as the first step in the Efficiency Kansas program. It'll be a couple of weeks before we get our report, but we're hoping to take advantage of the associated loan program so we can make a few improvements before winter sets in.
The process was quite comprehensive and I'd be lying if I said I knew what she was doing at each juncture, but the coolest part (literally and figuratively) was when she installed a blower door over our front door and used an infrared camera to see where the house was particularly drafty.
There is a LOT that needs to be done to make our house more airtight. The attic has about 2" of insulation where it should have 18". That's probably what we'll address first. Unfortunately, Mary said we have a lot of junk up there: old construction debris, a chair, etc., that should really be cleaned out first. I guess we'll see what can be done.
The basement is another supremely problematic area. Of the six basement windows, two are covered up with insulation and plywood and the rest copiously leak cold air. Two of them are behind a wall, but no one bothered to seal them up first, so the whole wall reads cold on the infrared monitor. I'd like to have them all replaced with glass block windows, but that may have to happen later on.
There are some things I can deal with myself. There's a drafty crack where the kitchen wall and ceiling meet that I can caulk. We could use some caulk around most of our window frames, too. I also need to do some taping and mudding of the raw sheetrock in the studio's utility closet. Otherwise, air comes in freely through the open sheetrock joints.
One thing I thought I'd already taken care of is our fireplace flue. Last year I stuffed some insulation in there, which cut back the amount of air we'd been getting down the chimney. It turns out there's still a huge amount of air coming down the chimney, so I'm going to look into plugging it more securely.
It turns out that our storm windows, as old and ugly as most of them are, do a pretty good job. If the home builders had only insulated around the window frames better, we'd be doing pretty well.
I wasn't surprised that our house is poorly sealed and insulated. It was built around 1939 and it's had two or three additions since then. Now that I know exactly what I'm dealing with, I'm ready to knock out the problems one by one.
If you see me at Lowe's with a cart full of cans of expanding foam and tubes of caulk, you'll know why.