I was at the Chicago Ridge Home Depot on Saturday to talk about home retrofits during their Fall Extravaganza. It was great fun and I was able to hook a few families up with some specific home energy resources which was really rewarding.
I also met a product rep for one of their insulation companies. He was pushing me to add his product to my home using scare tactics. Ugh! This is just another example of why I think a home energy audit is such an important tool for ANY homeowner!
Two important things to understand about a home energy audit: 1) the auditor looks at how all the different energy saving components of your home are (or are not!) working together. 2) usually in Illinois, the auditor is not selling the solutions that will make your home more energy efficient. The auditor lays out the options clearly so you can decide what to do next. No scare tactics involved!
The insulation rep was telling me that his product (cellulose…aka recycled newsprint) works better than the fiberglass I already have in my home. He went on to explain that I’d have to turn my heater up on the coldest winter days and AC down on the hottest summer days to get the same comfort as with his product. He could have hooked me if I wasn’t better educated!
First, from fire and health safety to effectiveness per inch, I know that every sort of insulation has pros and cons that only a home owner can assess for yourself. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association has a good comparison booklet. Second, 78 degrees on my thermostat is the same no matter what is in the attic. It might have to work harder on the extreme hot or cold days…but I don’t need to turn it up or down.
Bottom-line…we have diagnostic tools now for the home. If saving energy or being more comfortable is high on your list of home improvements, then an energy audit is always the right place to start. For around $300-600 in Chicago you can get an audit which almost always includes some free or low-cost improvements you can make. Plus, you’ll get an overall plan for improvements so you can make wise choices for your home. No scare tactics needed!