Imagine this. You and your beautiful bride-to-be take a break from wedding planning for a much needed weekend away. With your mid-sized SUV loaded, you head west for snow covered hills. After a few days of playing in powder, sleeping in and drinking adult beverages on a sun-kissed patio, you head home feeling refreshed and ready to button-up the final details on your upcoming nuptials. But that feeling ends abruptly as you enter your home, only to find it flooded.
Nearly three months ago, this was the scenario that welcomed my lady and me as we returned home from a weekend staycation. Actually, a miniature waterfall formed along the threshold of our French doors and drenched us as we walked into our soaked home. I’ll spare you details on the damage that occurred, but it was substantial enough that it took over two months to have our home restored back to its pre-Niagra Falls state. However, the “Great Flood of 2013” (as we like to call it) wasn’t a complete disaster.
Making the Most of the Disaster
Because a frozen water line in our attic was the culprit, we had to replace insulation in ceilings, walls and floors in each of the two levels of our home. In addition, new drops had to be cut in the ceilings and lighting fixtures had to be replaced. To make the most of the disaster; I decided it would be a great time to have a home energy audit. I mean, we were basically redoing about a third of our home, and I thought it only made sense to restore it more efficiently.
After having a home energy advisor visit, he found that we could significantly reduce our heating and cooling use by upgrading our out-dated insulation in the attic. Therefore, we upgraded our insulation from R-38 to R-50. To give you a bit of background, the higher the number following the “R” the better the insulation and its ability to, well, insulate. Furthermore, R-38 is the minimum recommended standard for attic insulation. But it didn’t stop there. In addition to the insulation upgrades, we updated our recessed lighting fixtures to ENERGY STAR® recommended models that reduces air leakage. And to take it a step further, we upgraded our CFL bulbs to LEDs.
The insulation and lighting fixtures were the two immediate upgrades. The audit found a few other areas we could improve, which included a few drafty windows and a door or two. Our advisor also gave us some bonus advice and suggested we plant a deciduous tree or two to help block the sun in the warmer months.
Long-term Term Savings
In a nutshell, the “Great Flood of 2013” wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. We were able to “squeeze the proverbial lemon” and make lemonade. The only bummer was that the decision to have a home energy audit conducted was influenced by the inevitable restoration. But in the spirit of looking on the bright side, the money we’ll save with the immediate upgrades should help us chip away at the deductible we had to shell out for the restoration, and the upgrades in the future should simply help us save.
For more information on home energy audits and how they can save you, click here.
Article by William Draper, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.