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Milwaukee/NARI Members Offer Tips for Improved Insulation and Upgraded Appliances - Part 2

July 23, 2013

The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., the area’s leading home improvement and remodeling industry resource for 52 years, offers steps to help reduce a home’s energy costs that also benefit the environment.

Drafty Doors and Windows

Energy dollars can easily escape your house through windows due to warping of wood from moisture and temperature changes. “On drafty windows, use clear plastic and/or weather-strip tape or caulk along the gaps where the glass meets the frame and seal the cracks at the moving sashes,” said Mark Meiling president of ForeSight Home Performance in Wauwatosa. “Cover pulley holes of older double-hung windows with tape or rope caulk. Rope caulk can be placed between and at the upper and lower windows as well,” he added.

There are some simple and inexpensive ways to keep cool air in during the summer and cold air out during the winter. “To reduce air leakage under exterior doors, roll up towels to block the breeze or buy an inexpensive door sweep,” said Meiling. “If the door leaks around the entire frame because it doesn’t sit flat against the door stop, securely fasten aluminum and vinyl bulb or flap weather-stripping to the door stop with the vinyl that presses tight to the door when closed,” he added.

Other low cost measures Meiling identified are sealing leaks at the basement sill plate, around doors and window trim, and gaps in the wall near water pipes. He suggests caulk around windows and doors and added insulation to fill big holes around plumbing fixtures. Inexpensive foam gaskets can be added to electrical outlets for insulation. “Remember, every hole you plug means fewer drafts, a cozier home, and lower heating bills.” Meiling added.

When asked about purchasing new windows, Meiling said, “If you are building a new home, some times it can pay to get high performance windows with sun screens and films. While these windows typically cost more, sometimes the difference can be made up in reduced energy use, as well as the protection they provide for upholstery, wood, and artwork from UV rays,” he added. When shopping for new windows, Meiling suggests you look for the National Fenestration Rating Council label. It means the window's performance is certified.
Roof and Insulation

The low cost measures listed above will reduce energy use a little bit. If you want to save even more money by reducing energy use in a 30 or more year old house, you’ll want to add insulation. But, Meiling cautions, adding insulation can create a wet and moldy attic. “Over the thirty plus years of diagnosing wet attics, homeowners have complained that no amount of energy savings covers the cost of replacing rotted roof decking. And adding attic ventilation does not solve wet attics."

“Our company uses Zonal Pressure Testing with a back-up visual attic crawl through, should target attic pressures not get met,” Meiling said. “The physics of measuring air pressures reliably tells whether the water vapor from the house has been successfully stopped from leaking into the attic.”

Randy Miller, CR, owner of Allrite Home & Remodeling, Inc. in Milwaukee, suggests that before insulation is added, homeowners should have a home energy audit. “The audit utilizes an infrared camera to locate temperature variances to spot gaps where moisture can enter your attic,” said Miller. “Once the audit is done, I suggest looking into organizations that offer rebates for adding insulation,” he added.

According to Miller, homeowners have a variety of insulation types to choose from to make their home’s more energy efficient. “A combination of foam and cellulose blown in insulation works well in attics,” said Miller. “For certain areas of the home, fiber glass works best. As far as recycled materials, manufactures even make insulation from used blue jeans,” he added.

On the roof, there are various additions that can benefit the environment. “Solar reflective shingles look like regular shingles, but can reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the roof and lower the amount of air conditioned needed in the summer,” said Miller. “Another option is to install solar tubes, which allow light to filter from the roof into rooms where there are no windows. This reduces the need for electric lights.”

The Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council was chartered in July 1961, as a Chapter of the National Home Improvement Council. In May of 1982, the National Home Improvement Council merged with the National Remodelers Association to form NARI – the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The Council’s goals of encouraging ethical conduct, professionalism, and sound business practices in the remodeling industry have led to the remodeling industry’s growth and made NARI a recognized authority in that industry. With over 740 members, the Milwaukee Chapter is the nation’s largest.

For more information or to receive a free copy of an annual membership roster listing all members alphabetically and by category, and the booklet, “Milwaukee/NARI's Remodeling Guide,” call 414- 771-4071 or visit the Council’s website at www.milwaukeenari.org.

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