How I Saved $495 a Year

Cold air was seeping from the basement into the main level through the gap between the baseboard molding and floor. A bead of caulk sealed the gap. The caulk dried clear, so isn't noticeable.

Goodbye drafty doors thanks to weather stripping and lots of caulk. I promise - the caulk really did dry clear.

No more cold air leaking around the pipes thanks to spray foam.

Having a Home Energy Assessment from Lantern Energy sounded about as fun as going through an IRS audit. Since moving into our house in September, we’ve been shocked by our monthly oil and electricity bills. It costs much more to operate this house than our old house. Despite the money we are pouring into heating, some spots are always cold. We knew we needed to do something, but weren’t sure what. That is were the Home Energy Assessment comes into the story.

For only $75 (Connecticut subsidizes the cost), here is what we got:

      • 3 polite service men complete with protective foot booties for a 4 hour period of time.
      • Inspection of attic spaces to confirm enough insulation.
      • A blower door test.  With all doors and windows closed, a blower was put in the front door.  The test showed how much air was leaking into the house from outside.  One of the techs walked me around the house to feel for drafts.
      • Sealing services.  Based on the results of the blower door test, the service men went to work to stop the drafts.  This included caulking along baseboards and doors, spraying foam insulation under the sinks where the plumbing goes into the wall, installing weather seals to our front and garage doors, adding pipe insulation to the hot water line, and putting butyl tape on any leaks in the duct work.
      • 17 replacement CFL light bulbs.  I picked where the bulbs went, and one of the service men installed them.

17 CFL bulbs and I didn't have to change them myself.

    •  An air flow test on our HVAC system.   The test told how efficient our HVAC system is.  Our furnace is relatively new, and performed well.  Our AC unit is 20 years old and at the end of its life.  The recommendation was to replace, but we can hold off for a little bit.
    • An energy assessment of our major appliances.  The hot water heater is the Achilles heal of our appliances.  While it cranks out the hot water, we are paying dearly for the privilege.  A more efficient unit will pay for itself in less than 5 years.
    • A written report detailing all that was done, showing our before energy costs, estimated savings post visit, and estimated savings if we implement the recommendations.

The bottom-line of all this work:  post visit we should save about $495 in our annual energy costs. Our house should stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Who needs to wear a jacket in the house? Not Laura. Our house is toasty warm.

About Beth

Wife, mother of 2, worker bee - striving to balance roles and continually learn
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6 Responses to How I Saved $495 a Year

  1. Momma G says:

    Money well spent! No comment on need to replace windows? Were recommendations made about the best size AC unit and type of hot water heater?

    • Beth says:

      According to assessment, windows were fine – no gaps letting air in. Recommendation for hot water heater was to get a heat pump. Jung found a possible rebate program for the hot water heater, so we might get it replaced in near future. The AC recommendation was vaguer – replacement cost estimate was $7500 (!). We’ll hold on replacing as long as possible. The energy savings for the AC were minimal, especially compared to the upfront expense.

  2. cloverjelly says:

    I just wrote a long reply and it got lost! I was so excited to see this post because the company I work for is focused on improving energy efficiency. Long story short, when you do replace your AC, make sure to get a Manual J load calculation to figure out the right size AC. An oversized AC will cycle on too often, causing wear and increased energy use. And, windows are not really a good item to replace to save energy. You get the most bang for your buck by sealing up drafts and leaky ducts. A better window doesn’t do any good if heat seeps out in other places. And, usually the window itself doesn’t help, it’s sealing up the gaps between the window and the wall. Good luck with your home improvements!

    • Momma G says:

      Dad agrees. “The payback on windows,” he said, “is usually pretty awful.” When we moved into our condo, the first thing he did was to put I board on the walls below the windows (being uninsulated window-walls). This eliminated the condensation problem immediately and made the rooms warmer and less drafty. The maintenance man also fixed a worn track that was preventing one of the windows from closing completely. This made a big difference.

    • Beth says:

      Thanks for the advice on the AC – I didn’t realize that you could buy a unit that was too big. We’re hoping our existing unit will hold 1 or 2 more seasons so that we can save up some capital. Well put about the windows. Going into the assessment, Jung was convinced that the windows needed replacing since they get big condensation ovals on cold mornings. The assessment proved otherwise – a little cold air leak seems the equivalent of a slowly dripping faucet. A tiny gap adds up to a lot of wasted hot air.

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