I am often asked ‘How do I make my home more energy efficient?’ My first reaction (being a custom home builder) is for them to sell their old inefficient home and let me build them a new one that might have half the energy bill they are paying now. I know that this option is not for everyone and so here are some principals that I use in new construction to make a home as energy efficient as possible.
It starts with air sealing. You always hear the government tell you to caulk and weather-strip – unfortunately, they are right. This is the easiest and least expensive method to make a leaky home a tighter home. If you were to add up all the cracks in an existing home it would surprise you to find out that it is like leaving a 4’ x 4’ (or larger) window open all day. On days where the temperature is over 100 you would never think about doing that but that is exactly what'ss happening with a leaky home.
When I build a new home, I seal every possible opening including the base-plates. These are the boards that connect the wall to the floor. This is a great spot for air and bugs to come in. If you were to pull up your carpet, you might see a black ring around the edge. This is dust that is pulled in from outdoors. By sealing the base-plates, you eliminate the air infiltration. Electrical and plumbing penetrations are also a source of a large amount of leaks. Get in behind your sinks and caulk/foam these holes and you will notice a difference in the temperature under your kitchen sink. HVAC vents are also a good place that is often overlooked. Remove the vents and caulk around the perimeter between the boot and the floor/ceiling and this will help remove air infiltration in these spots.
The key is to not let your conditioned air out to heat/cool the outdoors. Your system works hard enough to control the temperature inside your home – don’t let that air mix with the outside. This will make your home more comfortable and save you money on energy expenses.