Saturday, April 18, 2009

Home Energy Audit: Getting Down to Work

At some point, I actually have to do some work to realize the benefits of a home energy audit.

Well, today was the day to get started. I chose what would be one of the hardest spaces to address: above the ceiling of the rear addition. This space has an extremely shallow roof that gives no more than 30 inches clearance at its highest point. This is some TIGHT space. The the overhead is so low that I couldn't even crawl on my hands and knees. I had to slither around like a snake. The footprint of this area is about 8' by 20'.

Last year, and this was before I got the energy audit, I cut away a portion of the inner roof to make hatch to provide access to this space:

At the time, the intent was to insulate the area with R-30 batts of fiberglass wool with kraft paper backing. Having since read up on air sealing, I later realized that I hadn't done a very good job of fitting the batts in the outer, most shallow areas. This is how NOT to fit fiberglass batts:

The infrared images from my energy audit, taken from the floor below, showed where heat was radiating through the ceiling thanks to the gaps I left. So today, I opened up the hatch to this area and began several tasks:

1. Sealing the top of the exterior walls (foam in a can)
2. Fitting styrofoam baffles to the underside of the roof sheathing, which allows air to move from the soffits, and
3. Cutting insulation batts to FIT this time in those tight corner areas.

I'm satisfied with the results this time.

Let me tell you: this work demanded some physical contortion. I wore a respirator, but no gloves. I got stuff on my hands that so far has resisted soap, alcohol, and turpentine. It was time-consuming and down-right exhausting. While I was doing this, I imagined paying someone to do this work. You have to ask yourself-- how well would the job be done? I'm sure that vendors run the gamut from great to gawd-awful, but you can easily imagine someone taking short-cuts to get out of a space like this as quickly as possible. So, yup, I did it myself, and it took about four hours including a couple breaks. Just me, a portable light fixture, a utility knife, a staple gun, a couple cans of foam, and a steadily rising temperature. I was glad when this was over with. But I KNOW that it's done.

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