By Jenevra Wetmore
Did you know that the average home has enough air leakage to add up to a two-foot square hole? This means that, when combined, all those cracks and leaks add up to the equivalent of leaving a window open in your house all winter long! This is a problem when it comes to paying the heating bills and staying warm in the winter.
This fall Sustainable Woodstock is once again participating in Efficiency Vermont’s Button Up campaign. This yearly campaign hosts educational events and offers free virtual home energy visits, where an Efficiency Vermont energy expert can do a walkthrough of your home online. Together, you will check over your house and identify the best opportunities for saving energy. There are also virtual and in-person events where you can get your questions answered. Visit https://buttonupvermont.org to see events and sign up for a virtual energy visit.
Have you been meaning to start the weatherization process in your home, but keep getting cold feet? Here are three common weatherization myths, and tips and tricks to consider instead:
Doing a comprehensive weatherization project costs too much
This is a tricky one, since it depends so much on individual circumstances. However, there are programs and rebates out there to help with weatherization. The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) is a national program run by Community Action Partnerships (CAPs) across the country. In Windham and Windsor counties, SEVCA is the agency administering this program. Visiting SEVCA’s website or calling will provide the information you need to determine eligibility (www.sevca.org or call 802•722•4575). If you qualify, SEVCA will come in and do a full energy audit of your home, and will insulate important areas like the basement and attic. They can also help replace inefficient appliances. The nonprofit COVER Home Repair also weatherizes homes of income-qualifying residents who are within 45 minutes of White River Junction.
If you do not qualify for free weatherization, there are other great options and incentives. Income-based Home Energy Loans offer as low as 0% interest and up to 100% financing for home weatherization and heating improvements, and can include: cold-climate heat pumps, air sealing and insulation, solar hot water heaters, heat pump water heaters, central pellet boilers and furnaces, and advanced cord wood and pellet stoves. Visit efficiencyvermont.com for more details. Home Performance with ENERGY STAR, another program available to Vermonters, allows you to work with an Efficiency Excellence Network contractor to improve your home’s insulation and air sealing and get 75% off project costs up to $2,000 or $5,000, depending on your income. These “money back” programs that offer rebates are common when purchasing a new efficient appliance as well. Visit efficiencyvermont.com for details.
Weatherizing requires working with a contractor
Of course, some things are better left to the experts. That said, you don’t need too much experience to make simple home weatherization improvements. Efficiency Vermont offers $100 cash back on DIY projects, including weatherstripping, insulation, and air-sealing. Eligible projects include weatherizing exterior doors and windows, insulating hot water pipes, and spot air sealing your attic and basement. Visit efficiencyvermont.com to learn more about eligible projects.
Weatherization is all about windows and doors
When I talk to people about weatherizing their homes the first thing they often jump to is the quality of their windows. There are many reasons to invest in new windows, including better visibility, aesthetics, and noise reduction from the outdoors. New windows also improve your home’s energy efficiency, but typically not enough to actually save you money. This is because of the high upfront cost.
It may be time to replace your windows if they are single paned, have extensive deterioration, are missing parts, or have rotted frames. Otherwise, start with easy window repairs like weatherstripping, filling cavities, replacing cracked panes, and adding caulking around window casings. Consider adding storm windows; there are exterior and interior options. Rather than blowing your weatherization budget on all new windows, these smaller fixes are much more cost effective. They will allow you to focus your energy and money on insulating your basement/crawlspace and attic, which are the areas of your home where weatherization will save you the most energy.
Window Dresser interior inserts are a cost-effective way to realize energy savings and increased comfort at home. Photos courtesy of Window Dressers.