February may be the month for love but it is also the transition between winter and spring and the perfect time to get a jump on moisture damage and heat loss. Using the cold, wet weather can help you detect where your home is leaking water and heat.
Arm yourself with a pad and pen while you tour your home looking for obvious signs of moisture or heat loss. Here is a simple checklist to use to identify areas of concern.
Identify areas of condensation. Carefully check every spot where condensation or water could enter your living areas and storage spaces - ceilings, under the roof, under the eaves, windows, door frames, ventilation seals, around toilets, sinks, tubs and showers. You’re looking for visible moisture and for stains caused by moisture. When you find something, how you fix it will depend on the source of the leak. You may just need to recaulk around a tub or window, or you may need to call a plumber to replace a leaking fixture. Remember to get references or check a contractors standing with the Better Business Bureau before hiring them to ensure you will be getting quality workmanship.
Find and seal energy leaks. Tour your home room by room feeling for cold air entering through the cracks - including in chimneys, window frames, door frames, around appliance vents, electrical and plumbing fixtures and furnace ducts. For those areas you can't address - take notes with a pad and paper to come back to them later. You can use caulk to fill small cracks and a spray can of insulating foam sealer for larger gaps. Leaky doors may need some weatherstripping to help seal gaps. Don't know exactly how to fix a problem? The Home Depot and Lowe's Superstores have experts on hand that can help. In addition, there are numerous 'how to' videos available on YouTube.
Install a thermostat with timer. Installing a thermostat with a timer will help lower your heating and cooling bills. You can set the thermostat to go down automatically when you leave for work in the morning and to go back up right before you get home. In addition, you can set the thermostat to go down at night when you go to bed and to crank the heat back up right before you wake up in the morning. There is no point in heating or cooling a house if no one is there.
Know your numbers. Get an idea of how much energy a home the size of yours typically uses by entering detailed information about your dwelling into the Home Energy Saver tool. You can calculate your home’s energy use and estimate the energy savings from a variety of improvements, such as adding insulation, replacing windows and purchasing high-efficiency appliances. Experts from the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and other state and federal agencies collaborate in sponsoring the site.
Conduct a home energy audit. If you’ve sealed the obvious leaks and your home is still inefficient, you’ll get more detailed information from a professional energy audit. Expect to pay roughly $300 to $500. Make sure you research any contractors you use thoroughly before hiring them for the job.
If you are thinking of buying or selling a home, please contact us to see how we can help.