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Weatherization

What is weatherization?

Weatherization is the process of protecting your home and family from the elements. Weatherization takes place both inside and outside the home, and can also include projects in your yard. The goal of any weatherization project is to reduce convective heat transfer: the unwanted transfer of heat from one part of the home to another.

Heat loss in an average home

If you’ve ever caught a chill from being in a drafty room in the winter, you’ve experienced an unwanted convective heat transfer. The heat in the room is “escaping” and the air temperature is decreasing. In this case, you could put on a sweater. But a better decision is to address the room’s heat transfer with a weatherization project.

What does weatherization do?

An effective weatherization project will prevent convective heat transfer. The result should be a room with a stable and predictable air temperature. You and your family will notice the improvement right away, when your rooms are more comfortable in heating season and all year ’round.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy,

The benefits of weatherization begin with reducing the energy bills of recipients for a long period of time. Some measures, such as insulating walls or roofs, for example, can provide savings for the lifetime of a house—30 years or more. Other measures, such as making heating or cooling equipment more efficient, will provide savings for 10–15 years. On average, the value of the weatherization improvements is 2.2 times greater than the cost. (“What is Weatherization?“)

That’s a healthy savings for anyone!

Do it yourself weatherization projects

There are several weatherization projects that anyone can complete with a few basic tools and the right materials.

Weatherization rebate and assistance programs

  • Department of Energy Weatherization Assistance Program: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program provides grants to states, territories, and some Indian tribes to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. These governments, in turn, contract with local governments and nonprofit agencies to provide weatherization services to those in need using the latest technologies for home energy upgrades.
  • WAPTAC: Weatherization Assistance Program Technical Assistance Center is a detailed reference site for Weatherization Assistance Program professionals and homeowners who want to find the technical information about their programs.
  • The National Association of State Energy Officials State and Territory Energy Offices map has state contact information for homeowners interested in finding weatherization resources and programs in their communities.
  • Utility companies and co-ops often have rebates or low-interest loans available for homeowners who want to use home performance contractors for a weatherization project. Check the inserts in your billing statement, or the utility’s website, for information about available weatherization and home energy efficiency rebates and programs.

Additional weatherization resources

  • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit organization that advocates for energy efficiency “to achieve greater economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection” for all Americans. Their residential energy resource portal includes information on home energy efficiency, weatherization, and the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings.
  • The Environmental Defense Fund develops policy and business models to improve energy efficiency, grow the economy, and help consumers save money on their home energy costs. Their energy efficiency resources page features studies of the benefits of weatherization, and includes a discussion of on-bill repayment programs for home improvement loans. These programs are becoming more common for homeowners who want to undertake weatherization projects but might not qualify for federal or state assistance.



What is a programmable thermostat?

One of the most effective ways to control your home heating and cooling costs is to use a programmable thermostat to monitor your HVAC system and maintain a comfortable temperature in your rooms. According to Consumer Reports’ Top Thermostat Reviews,

Programmable thermostats can trim about $180 a year from your energy bill by automatically reducing your heating or cooling when you need it least. Some thermostats tested by Consumer Reports were easy to set and use but others were so complicated that you might end up spending more on energy, not less.

Every family lives differently in their homes, so the programmable thermostat your neighbor just installed may not be the best choice for you. Finding the correct equipment for your home and family is part of what’s called “right sizing” an HVAC system. This means just what it sounds like: designing, installing, testing, and maintaining the appropriate equipment to maximize your family’s comfort and health, and minimize your home heating and cooling energy bills.

What is a programmable thermostat?

A programmable thermostat is a sensor connected to your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning) system. It can turn your HVAC system on and off, in order to maintain a comfortable temperature. There are many different types of programmable thermostats, but they all work according to the same principles.

A basic programmable thermostat from Honeywell

What are the benefits of a programmable thermostat?

Set it and forget it! If you have a regular thermostat in your home you might find yourself adjusting it several times a day, as you leave for work and come home, or when you go to sleep and wake up. The most basic programmable thermostats will do this for you. All you have to do is input a time of day and temperature. Your new thermostat will take care of the work.

More advanced programmable thermostats are sometimes called “learning thermostat” title=”learning thermostats” target=”_blank”>learning thermostats.” Learning thermostats are basic programmable thermostats with additional sensors and software. The sensors are activated when you or your family move in and out of rooms. Software connected to the sensors then activates your HVAC system to raise or lower the room temperature to the comfortable level you programmed into the thermostat. Over time, these thermostats learn when you are home and when you are away, and program themselves to manage your HVAC system for you. Some of them are even connected to the Internet, so you can use your laptop or phone to control your home’s temperature while you’re away.

Is a programmable or learning thermostat the right choice for you? Get your home’s full heating energy assessment today: it’s fast and accurate and will give you actionable information to take the next step.

Want more ideas on how to save money on your home energy costs? Just sign up for our Home Energy Performance Newsletter. It’s full of the information and ideas you need to make your home less expensive to operate and more comfortable – and healthier – to live in.




Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning: HVAC

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are one of the best places to look for savings in your home. If your heater or air conditioner are more than 10 years old, if you think they’re running a lot, or if you can take advantage of a tax credit for energy efficient appliances, you should add HVAC system upgrades to your home improvement checklist.

According to the United States Energy Information Administration, home HVAC systems account for nearly 48% of a home’s total energy consumption. There are several parts of the system you can improve, independently or together.

You may want to consider a programmable thermostat set to adjust your home’s temperature for the winter heating season and the summer cooling season, and to adjust based on time of day. Why pay to heat or cool an empty house? Programmable thermostats are easy to install and use, and will pay for themselves with the money you save on your heating and cooling bills.

One of the most cost-effective upgrades to an HVAC system is air sealing. If your home is drafty it’s a good candidate for air sealing. A trained and certified contractor can find the cracks and gaps where air is leaking in or out, and seal them with caulk and weatherstripping. This will make you and your family more comfortable, and reduce your heating and cooling energy costs.

heat_pump_prices_by_galinast_on_istockphoto

Are HVAC system upgrades the right choice for you? Get your home’s full heating energy assessment today: it’s fast and accurate and will give you actionable information to take the next step.

Want more ideas on how to save money on your home energy costs? Just sign up for our Home Energy Performance Newsletter. It’s full of the information and ideas you need to make your home less expensive to operate and more comfortable – and healthier – to live in.