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Posted: 9/20/2011
Ready your nest for fall
By Matt Hoots
Summer in metro Atlanta can feel relentless, extending its balmy grip well into what would be considered autumn in other locales. But now is the time to think about the cold months ahead and steps you can take to both protect your home from the elements and ensure that you heat it efficiently. Whether you make small DIY changes or bring in a contractor for big improvements, you’re virtually assured of both saving money and protecting your home from the elements.

Experts estimate proper weatherization can cut energy bills 25 percent to 30 percent.

One advantage of bringing in a professional is the chance to assess your home’s energy leakage and how best to correct it.

Weatherization contractor and SawHorse President Matt Hoots does a home energy assessment using a blower door fan test to calculate energy loss.

“We can also find the sources of the leaks that are big or small,” said Hoots, whose company then uses insulation, weather-stripping of doors and windows, air sealing and more energy-efficient HVAC as part of its strategy to prepare a home for winter.

Real estate agent Jennifer Spivey had her Old Fourth Ward condo weatherized by Paul Shellem, owner of HomeSeal Atlanta in Suwanee, which offers a whole house appraisal for $400 to $600.

Spivey’s custom weatherization included duct sealing, boxing can lights and blowing in fiberglass insulation. Spivey’s monthly energy bill has gone down but the biggest change is in her quality of life.

“Our house was always dusty and it gave me allergies,” said Spivey. Sealing leaks, she said, “cut down on the dust by 90 percent. The air quality is better.”

Homeowners and contractors point to air quality and comfort issues as frequent reasons for weatherization.

“What gets these homeowners to move is not necessarily the energy savings or even the money that they’re going to get back and save, but indoor air quality and health,” said Brad Turner, head of weatherization at Southface, a nonprofit devoted to sustainable buildings and communities.

Hoots said he rarely has to market his weatherization service.

“Don’t have to,” he said. “They call us when they are uncomfortable. Comfort trumps energy savings.”

Spivey referred her parents, Patti and James Jeffries of Hampton, to HomeSeal. In addition to some energy-saving improvements made by other contractors, the Jeffrieses had their 2,000-square-foot 1986 ranch weatherized by HomeSeal. The couple saw a 25 percent decrease in their monthly utility bills.

The Jeffries had their duct work sealed, blown-in insulation placed in the attic, their windows and fireplace air sealed and their doors weather-stripped.

“It’s amazing when they build a house they don’t seal it where the brick and wall board come together and you’d be surprised at what comes out of there. And what comes in from outdoors,” said Patti Jeffries.

Like their daughter, the Jeffrieses saw benefits to weatherizing their home beyond lower utility bills.

“I also do not see as many bugs. I had spider problems. You’d walk in the living room and find dead spiders everywhere and there were cobwebs everywhere. But since we’ve sealed everything up, they’re not getting in,” said Patti Jeffries, who recommended that homeowners at least weather strip around windows.

Best of all, the same measures you take to winterize your home and make it more comfortable and energy efficient will also save you money when summer rolls back around.

Partnership for Community Action’s weatherization department offers whole house energy conservation services to income eligible people living in DeKalb, Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties. The program gives priority to households with the elderly, children younger than 6 and the disabled. The program is funded by the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, Atlanta Gas Light, Georgia Natural Gas, Georgia Power, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Complete weatherization services are provided.
Posted: 9/17/2011
The Daily2- Featuring Hometalk.com
By Shannon Walshe

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