First Things First–Seal Your Home

So you buy or already own an older home and have decided to renovate and remodel “green”.  You have visions of a remodeled kitchen and baths–maybe even an addition.  You’re thinking bamboo, no VOC paints, paperstone or recycled glass countertops, and other cool green products.  But wait–before you get to the hip elective stuff, you have to get a good grade on the boring basics , to use a metaphor.

I was in a home built in the 1950’s the other day that had been nicely remodeled.  The kitchen had been gutted and enlarged. They had added a huge designer bath in the lower level–all nicely done.  But the first thing I noticed was that it was freezing in the house.  The house still had the original single pane windows with broken sashes, cracked and rotted wood frames and no storms!  I didn’t go into the attic, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have found good insulation.

The very first step in greening an existing home is to make it more energy efficient.  It’s another one of those substance over style things.  So the first thing to do is have an energy audit. An energy auditor will tell you where your home is leaking energy and what you need to do to tighten the home up.  There’s nothing you can do that’s more important than stopping the energy waste inherent in an old home.  It’s important to have a trained energy auditor to assess your home so that you spend your dollars wisely. Many of the energy improvements that may be recommended are things you can do yourself.

More than half of all energy used in a home is for space heating and cooling and a lot of that energy escapes through poorly sealed and under insulated attics.  Only 20% of all homes built before 1980 were well insulated. 

Windows are another big source of energy loss but they don’t always have to be replaced.  Sometimes just caulking and sealing around the glass can do wonders.  If you do need windows though, make sure they’re Energy Star rated with low-e glass, multiple panes and gas filled.

Here’s a cool graphic I found on the Dept. of Energy website on what you can do to save energy.

And remember, when you’re ready to by or sell in Northern Virginia, call me your Going Green Real Estate Advisor.

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Call me at 703-62501358

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