Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Inexpensive Home Comfort Fix: So Easy a Six-Year-Old Can Do It

This past week, we had a whole house energy audit. If you haven't heard of these, they are pretty cool. We had ours done through a Rosie-certified contractor (all Arizona homeowners should know who Rosie is). The purpose of a home energy audit is to find out how energy efficient your home is. Here's the process.

First, a big fan is hooked up to the front door. All ducts are tested with a pressure sensor, the AC unit is tested, windows and doors are
scanned with an infrared thermometer, and all of the data is compiled to let you know how healthy your house is.
Have a helper.

As I have known for years, our house falls under the "lifetime smoker, fast food consumer, never exercise, ice cream is dairy" category of health. While we take great care of everything inside the house, and I love repairing and replacing light fixtures, faucets, appliances, and the like, our duct work is messier than the Exxon Valdez. Our AC unit is 25 years old (Unico, Trane, if you're reading this, I'm in the market for a blog sponsor), the duct work is like Swiss cheese, and we have an unused swamp cooler on the roof that is like an ugly baby dinosaur.

But here's the cool part. The company that did our audit this time gave me a list of things that would give me the biggest bang for my buck (Arizona friends, if you need a reference for this company, please send me a message. Outside of Arizona, please check with your local registry of contractors to find a certified energy audit specialist for your area).
Mind the gap.

So I'm going to share with you the energy saving tip that will cost you only $2 and is so easy that a six year old can do it.

I was told that our vents should be sealed. I let Pat, our technician, know that I was already aware about our ducts needing to be sealed. He explained that there was a difference between sealing ducts and sealing vents. He told me that any gap between the duct work and the drywall acted against a heating and cooling system. The hot air in the gaps (in the summer) gets pulled into the house along with the cold air, causing the house to simultaneously heat up and cool off. By sealing this gap, we would notice a difference in the temperature, the comfort, and the length of time that our unit runs. And while I am not sure how much of a difference this will really make in the long run, I immediately ran out and began the project the next day.
Seal it up!

Here's what you need:

1 caulk gun and 1 tube of caulk (one tube got us through seven vents with significant gaps)
half-pint helper (optional)

Gap minded.
Remove the vent, and use the caulk gun to fill in the gaps. I found it helpful to wear one rubber glove to help even out the caulk across the seam. If you have painted walls that don't need to be updated (*cough, *cough. *summer project for me...), you may want to use masking tape to tape off the paint and catch any stray caulk. Wait for the caulk to dry, and replace the vent.

That's it. Simple, right? It took Big-A and I about 30 minutes to do all seven vents. She had a great time hanging out with daddy, I got quality time with my daughter, and together we made our house a little more comfortable.

Now to decide which of the 50 shades of beige to use on our outdated Desert Sands walls...

She's a machine.

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