Making our homes as energy-efficient as possible has always been a priority of ours. In our last house, Ben replaced every window, added a layer of rigid insulation under the siding, and 22 bags of cellulose insulation to the attic. Paired with a geothermal system, the average monthly heating/cooling bill came in around $30. The guy that serviced the geothermal system couldn’t believe the bills were that low, even with the high-efficiency unit.
When we moved in this house, we knew we wanted to do the same. It’s taken longer, but we have replaced every window with energy-efficient triple pane vinyl windows.
After each window install, we seal cracks with Great Stuff expanding foam.
This compressed foam fills in cracks around windows, going right around shims.
Before replacing the basement windows, we had box elders crawling all over. It was really gross. When removing the old windows, we saw the problem. Absolutely zero insulation around the windows. Not even fiberglass batting chunks.
Since sealing the gaps, we’ve had maybe 5% of bugs in the basement. That’s a win-win situation; prevent drafts and keep creepy crawlies out.
Our first fall here, Ben crawled around the attic, blowing in 100 or so bags of cellulose. For the house wrapping, we were able to get a good deal on used rigid foam panels on Craigslist.
Unlike fiberglass batting, rigid foam doesn’t lose R value over time. By getting used panels, we saved at least a thousand dollars and some space in the landfill. With the windows and siding in poor condition, we knew we needed to replace everything. It made the most sense to super insulate while we were in the process. Wrapping the house with 4 inches of rigid insulation took some time, but we’re already reaping the benefits.
Though we’re just beginning these cold months, we’ve already noticed the house holds heat longer. Last year, we had a fire burning constantly. If we didn’t, the furnace ran almost constantly. Now, without a fire, the furnace kicks on several times a day. With a fire, it comes on maybe three times. Even the extremities of the house feel warmer. To the extent that I refuse to put our thick winter comforter on for fear we’ll roast to death.
I know insulation and house guts like plumbing and electrical are some of the least exciting projects, but they are very necessary.