Planning to remodel or up-grade your home – make it an energy-efficient remodel. When you decided to take apart your kitchen, build onto the garage, finish the basement or add a bathroom, the idea of increasing your home’s energy efficiency to reduce heating/cooling costs probably wasn’t the driving force. But it certainly should be a major factor in any home renovation in Madison WI.
The technology going into new home construction has advance tremendously in the last decade so even a home built at the turn of the century benefits from an up-grade.
Begin an Energy-efficient Remodel with an Audit
A lot of planning and forethought goes into picking tile, paint and fixtures. The same amount of prep should go into built-in efficiencies.
Heating and cooling costs are among the most significant monthly expenses for any homeowner. Whether you home is 10 years old or a classic from the 60s, chances are it is losing heat in winter and getting warmer in summer. A lot is written and broadcast about where the heat losses are. The only way to be really sure is to enlist the services of a trained professional to complete an Energy Audit.
An Energy Audit reviews all your energy use as well as mechanical systems and appliances. With this research as a guide, there are then usually two tests:
- The Blower Door Test – with a fan blowing air out of the house at the main entrance the auditor uses a “puffer” tool that leaves a stream of smoke so air movement can be seen. Noting how air moves is a first step in a home renovation that includes additional mechanical systems, adding rooms or moving walls.
- Infrared Thermography Test – applying high-tech sensing devices cartoon-like colors show up on a screen indicating hot or cold spots – where air may be leaking around windows or uneven insulation in the walls.
Make the Most of Home Renovations
Once you’re committed to your home renovation, it’s the appropriate time to consider going beyond just the new kitchen, new bathroom or basement rec room. There are three elements of every home that should be considered for an energy-efficient remodel: Heating/Cooling systems, air leaks and poor insulation.
Plugging air leaks in older homes comes from close attention to the building’s “envelope” – roof, walls and windows. These three elements account for more than 50 percent of all heat loss. You can caulk and seal but the time comes for more drastic action. Start your inspection at the top…
- The Roof – advances in roofing materials not only provide longer lifespans and better protection from changeable weather, they are contributing to a home’s energy efficiency. New roofing materials contain specialized pigments to reflect sunlight and absorb less heat.
- Insulation – a basic for all good energy-efficient remodeling projects. Adding insulation in attics and basements reduces heat loss and strain on heating and cooling equipment. An Energy Audit reveals where you can improve insulation strategically – especially important in homes where uneven insulation is more likely than missing insulation. Adding insulation to the attic is the most common “quick fix.” Advances in chemistry are providing new foam-type insulations that are more environmentally friendly for attics and walls.
Basements and crawl spaces are also candidates for more insulation. If you have an older home with no plans to finish the basement, consider installing insulation between the floor joists to create a thermal barrier.
TIP FROM A PRO – if your home renovation includes adding recessed lighting be sure to insulate around the fixtures and their opening in the ceiling. These gaps are among the worst for air leaks and easily overlooked. Be sure to use insulation that is fire-proof since these fixtures get hot.
Replacement Windows Rank High
Replacement windows and doors rank near the top of the list for an energy-efficient remodeling plan. Window technology has made great strides in the last decade and is primed for even better things in the next 10 years. Working with the U.S. Department of Energy, manufacturers are developing efficient glazings, snug-fitting frames and “smart” windows. Pella Windows, in conjunction with Lawrence Berkeley National Labs is developing highly-insulated windows that use sensors and microprocessors to automatically adjust shading based on the direct sunlight and time of day.
Rely Upon Skill and Experience
A home remodel, big or small, requires skill and experience. Westring Construction LLC has the expertise and experience to review all the options for a home project anywhere in Dane County. Nothing is too big or two small – we specialize in restoring older homes to their original glory while incorporating the latest technology and building techniques.
Call Westring Construction LLC at 608-441-5435 or email us to get started on a home renovation based upon an energy-efficient remodeling plan for your Madison WI home.