(WEAU) - Now that we've had our first snowfall, is your home ready to take on another Wisconsin winter?
I worked with an Energy Auditor through Focus on Energy and tested what to look for before winter in a WEAU home.
"The blow door de-pressurizes the home and we pull in air from the outside,” said David Geissler, Energy Auditor.
It all starts with the blow door test, which creates a vacuum inside the home.
It’s purpose? It’s all about finding the air leaks.
"This gauge here tells us right now you’re losing about 1700 cubic feet per minute that's going out of the home,” said Geissler.
One local on-site performance tester says there's one place you want to make sure to insulate.
"The attic area because your house is like a hot air balloon everything is trying to get out the top,” said Geissler.
"We like to say seal it tight but ventilate it right. If you seal up your house very very tight you run into issues with combustion safety problems, furnace and water heaters can backdraft,” said Scott Bloedorn, Regional Manager of Focus on Energy.
Focus on Energy says by insulating your home properly you can cut your utility bill by almost 2/3’s.
"We work with just Wisconsin residents who heat with at least 50% natural gas or electricity to make their house more efficient,” said Bloedorn.
One key to the test is the infrared camera.
“The black areas will be cold and show us the lack of insulation,” said Geissler.
While the home is de-pressurizing just to see the sensitivity between hot and cold. I place my hand on this cabinet the infra-red camera will pick it up right away.
So we started in the basement.
“Soap boxes are notorious for air leakage,” said Geissler.
It turns out; this basement is losing a lot of heat because of improper insulation. Then we went into the kitchen.
“That air leakage is actually around the trim and not the door,” said Geissler.
In here, I could actually feel cold air coming through the trim rather than the door. Then there was the family room which just had its windows replaced.
"This might have been insulated a little bit at some point in time, but was not done properly and that is why we see the cold areas,” said Geissler.
Surprisingly enough cold air leaks through trim rather than the window.
“If you notice cracks around your windows you can caulk those up or use plastic film over the windows helps,” said Geissler.
Then he tested the exhaust fan in the bathroom.
“This is a balometer and what it does is records the airflow on the fan. As we tighten up the home, we like to control the moisture in bathrooms and kitchen areas of course,” said Geissler.
Then we made our way outside to look around. This usually is the first step in the process; one thing he noticed was the chimney...
“Get a power vent water heater, and get rid of the chimney. The only thing venting out through that chimney is the water heater,” said Geissler.
“We often see insulation and air ceiling jobs that will pay for themselves in just a couple of years,” said Bloedorn.
One thing to note is not everyone uses only 50% electricity or gas. Therefore you can call your energy provider to see if they have any kind of efficiency program.
If you’re on a budget, you can fix small things yourself, but the basement and attic are definitely what you want to pay attention to.
Otherwise you may qualify for a discount with Focus on Energy.