Dayle Laing

The ‘coolest shade of green’ is the sustainable choice. Dayle Laing is a Professional Speaker and Author who uses her experience and training as an educator, a designer and a LEED Accredited Professional to empower Conscious Consumers to make practical yet beautiful choices for sustainable living, reducing their carbon footprint while enhancing their body, mind & spirit.

magnifying_glass_300Have you been present when an energy audit is being conducted on a home?

Even if you have a pretty good idea of where air leaks are occurring, there can be surprises and some simple cost-effective solutions.

While you hear messages to unplug the chargers responsible for ‘phantom loads’, it is even wiser to consider that there might be literally gaping holes in your home from which hard-earned money could be escaping!

I recently had our home inspected for an energy audit and discovered the air is changing nearly 4 times in an hour (air leakage at 50 Pa). That almost feels like someone is leaving a door open in the winter! The horror subsided when the inspector gave me some practical inexpensive solutions, as well as a range of mid and high priced remedies.

thermal_imaging_camera_300I had called several local independent contractors and selected Green_Tech_Services to perform this audit.

I was looking for a company with an auditor that would use a thermal imaging camera, since I wanted to “see” the air leaks! (That's my interior design training!)

Thermal imaging is a visual display of the amount of heat radiated, reflected or transmitted from a surface or an object.  The camera allowed me to ‘see’ the temperature on a surface by converting the infrared spectrum to the visible spectrum.

dayle_blower_door_fan_test_250The Audit Process

The energy auditor attached a tent and fan structure to the front door to perform an air blower door test. The fan expelled the house’s air, creating negative pressure that made air leakage in the building envelope obvious with great drafts that I could feel with my hand and see on his camera display.

We went from room to room and top to bottom, examining the outside perimeter walls of the building envelope and the top floor ceiling. He accessed the attic through the hatch door to inspect the insulation below the roof. He made many suggestions, pointing out flaws and remedies. I took notes and he promised a full report.



Home Energy Action Checklist:


air_loss_at_electrical_outlet_300Electrical Outlet Air Loss

This is the inexpensive dramatic solution that really surprised me.

Unless electrical boxes for switches and outlets are sealed properly on exterior walls, air rushes past the gap between the box and the drywall. This gap can be sealed carefully (after the electrical supply is turned off) with a small amount of drywall compound or interior caulking. I found that I could do this myself without difficulty.

electric_outlet_and_wallplate_insulator_300From a hardware store, I purchased ‘Electrical Outlet and Wallplate Insulator’ foam gaskets. After I put the cover plate back, I used the safety caps to insert into outlets not in use to prevent more air from leaking. I systematically went from room to room, focusing only on exterior walls.

I could feel a significant difference in room comfort after insulating the outlets more thoroughly.

 

 

 

 

air_loss_at_baseboard_300Baseboard Air Loss

This is another simple solution provided there is a steady hand to apply caulking! Air rushes in at the top and bottom of baseboards unless the gap has been closed properly. Ideally, foam insulation is sprayed at the bottom of the drywall where a gap exists at the floor. A contractor can be instructed to caulk this prior to applying baseboards in a retrofit or addition. If the baseboards are already in place, simply caulking at the upper and lower edge is a less effective but still somewhat worthy fix. I used clear caulking on stained baseboards and at hardwood floor edges, and paintable interior caulking on painted baseboards.

air_loss_at_floor_vent_edges_300Floor Vent Air Loss

Air can leak between the edges of the metal ductwork and the subfloor when it travels along the floor plate from exterior walls.

The auditor showed me gaps when he lifted the floor register, which I filled with some interior caulking, and then I replaced the register.

 

 

air_loss_at_insulated_ceiling_pot_light_300Potlights and Ceiling Fixture Air Loss

This remedy to air leakage probably requires a licensed electrician since it is important to have top floor ceiling holes safely sealed without risk of fire hazard. You don’t want ceiling insulated housings to overheat.

Attic / Roof Insulation - improve to R50

I found this air leakage remedy to be mid-priced. I hired a contractor to increase my attic insulation from R-20 (which was standard when my home was built) to at least R-50. The energy auditor said he wanted to see at least 17” of insulation when he returned for the final inspection. The contractor also checked the air quality of my attic and determined that there was no smell that would indicate a condensation problem.

The Energy Audit Report

energy_consumption_300These are but a few of the action items to be taken following an energy audit. My auditor mailed a complete report which has been so valuable for my follow up. His analysis has estimated that 70% of my energy consumption is for space heating, 16% for lighting & appliances and 14% for hot water.

The report rates my home against others in the same category of age and efficiency. He estimates I could lower my overall energy consumption by 18% if I implemented everything in his report.

 

Additional Improvements eg. Weatherstripping on Doors

air_loss_at_door_needing_weatherstripping_300Weatherstripping on exterior doors, replacement of doors and windows, and replacing the hot water heater could all be considered to also lower energy consumption.

Of course, the big items like a high efficiency furnace and air conditioner are the higher priced options I have already completed.

Whether you have a home energy audit or not, following some of these tips could make your home more comfortable and your energy bills lower.

Proof of having made these improvements could well enhance future resale value of the property. Take photographs and keep receipts!

If you have questions or wish to book Dayle for a consultation or speaking engagement, please contact the office at 905-846-3221. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Comments (8)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Thanks for the information. Some of these are easy enough to implement myself in just one afternoon. <br />Your efforts to get us to be more green are appreciated.<br />Nancy

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Nancy,<br />I am very pleased that you feel inspired to fix some air leaks! I too found it fairly easy to do, and we might as well enjoy the benefits of lower energy costs while we lower our carbon footprint.<br />Dayle

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Dayle, <br />Do you know of a Furniture store (retail), in Toronto, that specializes in Environmentally Friendly Furnishings? A friend in Switzerland wants to give a gift certificate to another friend moving to Toronto and needs a name or e-mail...

Dayle, <br />Do you know of a Furniture store (retail), in Toronto, that specializes in Environmentally Friendly Furnishings? A friend in Switzerland wants to give a gift certificate to another friend moving to Toronto and needs a name or e-mail address or website. <br />Thanks in advance if you can help out. Eva Webb, Cr8Eve Designs

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Eva,<br />One possibility is Recraft Custom Sustainable Furniture. http://www.recraftfurniture.com/about.htm <br />I haven’t tried them myself, but they would be worth a call.<br />Dayle

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Today grants were cancelled by Feds...<br />Chris

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Chris,<br />Yes, the Canadian ecoEnergy program was discontinued 2 months early. People already registered may continue to participate and submit receipts until March 31, 2012. I did have links to this program in the Blog article but removed them...

Chris,<br />Yes, the Canadian ecoEnergy program was discontinued 2 months early. People already registered may continue to participate and submit receipts until March 31, 2012. I did have links to this program in the Blog article but removed them when I saw the notice of cancellation in the newspaper. This of course, is a disappointment, since the program was generating good green jobs as well as the household benefits of lower energy costs and greater comfort.<br />Dayle

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I have a lot of neighbors updating their homes to be more \"energy efficient\" and \"green\". I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical until I saw how much it lowered some of their bills. I do want to do it right though. and not just throw...

I have a lot of neighbors updating their homes to be more \"energy efficient\" and \"green\". I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical until I saw how much it lowered some of their bills. I do want to do it right though. and not just throw money at the issue. I am leaning heavily towards hiring a professional inspector to come out first, and hopefully get a checklist of things I can do. I may have to peck away at the list, and do a few upgrades over time, but I think that the savings will be well worth it!

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Caroline, the energy auditor I hired prepared a list, with some surprising items. We have been systematically working through the list. It has lowered costs and made our home more comfortable. Check out my blog on the Energuide rating which is...

Caroline, the energy auditor I hired prepared a list, with some surprising items. We have been systematically working through the list. It has lowered costs and made our home more comfortable. Check out my blog on the Energuide rating which is the numerical value you will receive with your audit: http://www.daylelaing.com/News/energuide-rating-for-homes.html

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Comment was last edited about 3 years ago by Dayle Laing Dayle Laing
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