Have an energy audit done
Having a qualified energy audit done will be the best money you have ever spent on your home, especially if you are considering turning your camp into a year-round home. Energy Advisors through Efficiency Maine are required to have certifications that take into account not only the energy performance of your home, but the health, safety, and welfare of your family as well. So look at the participating energy advisors on the Efficiency Maine list when selecting an energy auditor in your area. Having an audit done in the middle of the summer is just as effective as having an audit done in the winter.
Buy a couple tubes of caulking and seal around your window trim
Please don’t let the window manufacturer tell you they can save you tons of money on your energy bills by installing new windows. New windows are costly and the insulation value of a new window (R-3 to R-5) isn’t that much better then the existing R-2 window you currently have. What makes windows more efficient these days is the installation. Everyone has seen installers stuff fiberglass insulation around the window and cover it with trim. Well this doesn’t stop airflow from the exterior. New windows are now installed with low expanding spray foam around the gaps prior to installing trim. This cuts down on the air infiltration around the window making it feel less drafty.
Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love new windows! But don’t be fooled into thinking they will pay for themselves. They are the most expensive energy upgrade you can make to your home. Instead, go to your local hardware store and buy a tube of caulking and seal around every seam of your window trim. Or, if you’re handy, pop the trim off and seal around the windows with low expanding spray foam. If you own an older home and the window trim has been painted numerous times over the years, this may not be a possibility, but caulking is a great and cheap option that most homeowners can do on their own!
Air seal attic penetrations
Everyone has heard the term, heat rises! So, one of the best places to start making energy improvements is in your attic. If you have fiberglass insulation, simply lift the fiberglass insulation and look for areas where pipes, wires, light fixtures, or walls penetrate your ceiling. If the gap is bigger then ¼” seal it with a can of spray foam. If its smaller then ¼” then seal it with caulking. And last, but not least, if it’s a chimney or flue pipe seal it with high temperature foam or caulking! Lay your insulation back down over the top of your air sealing efforts and start counting the dollars you will save!
Have your boiler serviced
This may seem like a no brainer, but having your boiler serviced will help you get the most out of every gallon of oil you put into it. Oil is dirty and tends to clog your boiler over time. It is recommended to have your oil boiler cleaned, tuned, and serviced every year. I highly recommend having this done in September right before heating season starts. Just like your car, a tune-up will go a long way on extending the life of your system and getting you the maximum efficiency over the long Maine heating season!
Insulate your basement or attic
As mentioned above, heat rises, so the best places to start insulating your home are the basement or the attic. If heat can’t escape out of the top, it can’t pull in cold air from the bottom. The same applies in reverse. If cold air can’t be drawn in from below, less escapes out the top. So, after having an energy audit, consider insulating your attic. Most often I recommend cellulose in the attic and spray foam for rubble or granite basements or foil faced rigid insulation for smooth concrete walls. If you have smooth concrete walls and you’re just a little handy you can insulate you basement on your own for a really affordable cost!
It is critical and important to have an energy audit done on your home prior to installing any insulation or air sealing practices. Moisture and indoor contaminants can become a problem after insulation and air sealing if a qualified professional hasn’t evaluated your home and given you proper techniques and practices to keep you and your family safe!