Insulate Now to Reduce High Air Conditioning Costs
Most people don't think about insulating their homes until the fall. With winter looming, consumers know that higher heating costs will hit them right where it hurts - in their pocket books.
But guess what? As climate change increases, it is becoming more expensive to cool your home in the summer than heat it in the winter. Here's a copy of my 2012 electricity bill, which shows how much electricity I use month to month and compares 2012 overall to 2011. (I have an electric heat pump for both heating and cooling). I use almost twice as much energy to cool my home in July and August than to heat it in November and December!
All of which is to say that, as we face another blistering summer, now is a smart time to think about insulating your home to keep hot air out and cooled air in.
The Mark Group, a company based in the United Kingdom but with offices in Philadelphia, Delaware, and New Jersey, is sponsoring this post to let you know what energy-saving options you can take advantage of right now. They include:
* Home Energy Assessment - Is your attic leaking energy, your basement, or both? Do your windows and doors need extra insulation? What about the cracks around your chimney? In 60-90 minutes, at no charge to you, the Mark Group will take a thermal photo of your home to help you identify where it makes the most sense to insulate.
* Home Energy Audit - This is a more extensive analysis of where your home is losing air that's been heated or cooled. It also tests and analyzes the amount of energy your appliances use. After the audit, you'll receive a comprehensive home performance report that includes recommendations for energy saving improvements. The cost of the audit depends on where you live; both New Jersey and Pennsylvania help consumers offset your out-of-pocket expenses.
* Air Sealing & Insulation - Heat rises in the winter and builds up in the attic in the summer. To save energy and money, seal gaps and cracks around the perimeter of the attic floor, where the interior wall studs intersect with the attic floor, as well as around recessed lighting cans, ceiling fans, and other openings. Once all the gaps are sealed, you and your energy advisor can figure out whether you need to add additional insulation to prevent conditioned air from escaping through the attic floor. You can follow a similar process to insulate your basement and crawl spaces.
* Lighting - Take stock of the light bulbs you use indoors and out. A variety of energy-saving compact fluorescents (CFLs) and LEDs can help you minimize the amount of money you're spending on lighting. Plus, I love the fact that, once installed, many of these bulbs last for a decade or more. I'm too busy to keep changing light bulbs, aren't you?
* Solar Hot Water and Electric - Is solar energy right for you? It depends on the home you live in, what part of the country you live in, and how much direct solar "gain" you can capture on your roof or in a system near your house. An energy audit can also let you know if you should consider solar and how much it will cost.
Summer or winter, insulating your home saves energy, increases your comfort levels, and helps you do your part to save energy and help reduce climate change. You can get much more information from the Mark website. In the United Kingdom, you'll find them here. In the U.S., start here.
Even if Mark doesn't have an office in your state or community, you'll find the website highly informative, and you'll be able to compare what they offer to similar companies that serve your neighborhood. Note that the Mark Group received the 2012 Super Service Award from Angie's List. Whomever you do business with, make sure they are reputable, experienced, and affordable.
Full disclosure: The Mark Group underwrote this post in order to let me offer you insights on the importance of insulating your home any time of the year. The opinions expressed are my own. As you know from reading my blog, I am a strong proponent of energy efficiency and believe we should all do as much as possible to reduce the amount of energy we consume. Thanks!