A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Energized

With all the doom and gloom hanging over our heads on the state of the economy, we’re looking for more ways to save,— but sometimes that means spending a little money first.

We had the folks from Informed Energy Decisions over a couple weeks ago to perform an energy audit/condition survey of our bungalow.

We heard about their services when we went to a talk last month about Weatherizing your Bungalow sponsored by the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association.

Ross showed up with a bunch of gear and asked us a series of questions regarding our main concerns or issues, and our goals.

For one, we wanted an assessment of our TV/family room off the kitchen, which gets rather cold in winter. Now, with six windows in the room, we figured that was at least part of the problem, and also because it lies over an unfinished and uninsulated part of the basement (Pete’s workroom), which also gets very cold. But was there something beyond that? And what specifically could we do to change that?

Yes, we could start by hanging drapes, making sure gaps and holes were plugged and sealed, and then see if that did the trick. But what we liked about their services is that after their assessment, we’d get a better idea of exactly what was going on, and they break everything down into a prioritized action plan. Many of the tasks we will be able do on our own at a minimal cost.

The first thing they do is make sure all windows are shut. They seal off the front entrance with this tarp and large fan. When they turn the fan on, it gradually depressurizes the house and gives the effect of a 20-mph wind coming at the house from all sides.

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Next, Ross inspected every room in the house using puffs of smoke to detect leaks.

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Yes, there are definitely some issues around the back door and the surrounding frame, but these can be sealed up with caulk and weatherstripping.

There is also plenty of air coming in where the baseboard meets the floor. We currently have no shoe molding because much of it was replaced over the years with cheap pine quarter round. When we had all the woodwork stripped, we excluded the shoe molding. My long-term goal is to install the proper size, which is taller than it is wide, and to use the proper type of wood.

Some of the good news? Our original, restored windows ARE efficient. Where they (and any type of window) are lacking is in the framing surrounding the windows, which can be sealed with caulk and/or expanding foam. Some windows do rattle a little within the frame, but these can be tightened up with weatherstripping.

We also have a damper on our boiler heating system (courtesy of the PO), which Ross said increases the efficiency of our furnace by 3-5%.

Later, I’ll get into more details about our results and interior winterization project. This weekend we need to focus on winterizing our garden: emptying the rain barrels, protecting the water fountain, and sowing our native grass seed.

In the meantime, ten more days ’til the Big Election. I hope to be able to focus on other things, including the house, after that. That will definitely be a welcome CHANGE.

4 Comments

  1. Nicole on October 25, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Good for you! This is THE weekend to weatherize, at least in our part of the world. (Sunny and 60s both days, but some chilly night ahead …)

  2. mia on October 26, 2008 at 11:37 am

    oh this is a cool service . However you didn’t post how much it cost? And all the weatherstripping.. will they do it for you if you pay them or who can do this if you don’t have the skills? (this is my dilemma)

  3. stuccohouse on October 27, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    I had an energy audit done the year I moved into my house and every two years after. I have faithfully made all of the changes they suggested and the effects have been outstanding. I no longer feel a breeze moving through my living room. Check if your company offers the infrared reading….after you have made the changes they suggest….it is very cool to have that done to fine tune even more spots. Besides you get to see the insides of your walls 🙂

  4. denise on November 4, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    Nicole: I thought it’d be the last chance too—who knew that it’d be sunny and 70s in early November?!

    mia: I really don’t like to post costs, sorry. The cost really depends on the size of your house, and 1-2 people spend about 5 hours evaluating the house, so expect to pay at least several hundred for it. No, they don’t make the changes for you, however in some cases they can recommend people who will.

    stuccohouse: that’s great to know how much it has helped! They did have the infrared but it was a warm day and unnecessary at the time, so maybe in the future!

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