Economic Energy Efficiency

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Updating Your Home for Better Insulation

Owners of older and lightly insulated homes are increasingly turning to retrofitting solutions to improve energy efficiency and slash their energy bills. Depending on the type of home you own, you can opt for retrofits after consulting with a building professional.
 
Many insulation opportunities in older homes
 
© RFsole - Fotolia.comThe easiest way of cutting an older home's energy consumption is to add insulation to the walls, basement and roof. Sealing leaks, holes and cracks is another solution. If you live in one of Colorado's raised bungalows built in the 60s or 70s, there are quite a few retrofitting options you can explore. For instance, your attic and roof may have a single layer of insulation; windows may be single-glazed; and the insulation in the wood-framed walls may not fill the wall cavity entirely. 
 
Talk to a consultant about the potential risks of retrofitting your home. Structural issues, moisture problems and hazardous materials are all important factors to consider before you green-light a retrofit project. 
 
How to make lightly insulated homes more energy efficient
 
Let's start with the attic. Usually, the space between the roof sheathing's underside and the ceiling finish can be plugged with more insulation. The building professional may remove the existing insulation and replace with a more effective and modern spray foam insulation that seals off leaks while also providing sufficient ventilation. 
 
Spray foam or extruded polystyrene insulation can also be used to insulate basement walls from the inside. This may be a little tricky, however, if there are moisture problems like dampness or condensation. Insulating your basement floor may require removal of flooring to add board insulation, moisture protection and sheathing.
 
You can replace older windows with double glazed units and add low-e films to improve their energy efficiency. Insulated spacers between glass panes is another common option. 
 
An important aspect of a retrofit project is to address air leakage around your home's doors and windows. Sealing gaps and spaces with closed-cell spray foam or caulk can effectively improve air tightness. But keep in mind that the process can also cause moisture build-up, so ventilation improvement should also be part of the retrofit project.
 
Understand your options before putting down your dollars
 
An energy audit should precede a retrofit project. Speak to a professional and have a clear idea about the safe and effective options for your home's architecture. By making the right choices, you can improve your home's energy performance and save significant dollars. 

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