Σχόλια Αναγνωστών

Barn raisings weatherize homes to cut energy bills

από Francis Huish (2020-07-07)


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You could call us the "caulk gun militia."

Last month, I joined about 40 other volunteers, armed to the teeth with materials to weatherize a two-family home. Despite the rain and a few errant squirts of insulating foam, we made the leaky New England home significantly more energy efficient, largely by sealing all manner of leaks.

We won't know the financial impact of our work until after the winter months, but it will undoubtedly lower the residents' heating and electricity bills in future years. Along the way, we learned a few things we could do at our own homes, met some people in the community, and felt good about volunteering our time.


A blower door measures how air tight a home is by measuring air flow at a given air pressure.
Martin LaMonica/CNET

Credit for the idea behind our barn raising goes to Cambridge, Mass.-based HEET, or Home Energy Efficiency Team, a volunteer group that has organized a number of these events over the past year. The goal isn't just to weatherize one building; it's to teach as well. After all, many people want to be a little more green in their personal lives--and who doesn't want to lower their utility bills?--but not everybody knows how.

The evidence is just anecdotal, but it seems that the practice is taking hold in a few other places. When I went to a training session this summer at a drafty Victorian in Cambridge, there were about 10 people from other towns and states looking to start their own local chapters.

Weatherizing homes won't solve all our energy and climate challenges. But while many folks are intent on high-tech (and high-priced) solutions to our energy problems, weatherization is a sensible, low-cost place to start. About 40 percent of the energy in the U.S. goes to commercial and residential buildings and investments in efficiency typically have the fastest payback. Weatherizing a home could cut energy use by as much as 30 percent, according to the Department of Energy, and many steps at are relatively inexpensive.

Even at an event devoted to the potential of solar power--the Solar Decathlon--U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu last week underscored how important energy efficiency is to the country's energy policy and people's pocketbooks. In every place they've lived, Chu said he and his wife have made a game of trying to cut energy bills in half from the previous owner.


Foam patrol


Well, our little barn raising effort probably won't cut the homeowners' bills in half. But for less than $500 in material, a good amount of planning, and a bit of sweat equity, we did pretty well. Every group can set up their own rules, but typically it's the homeowner who fronts the money for the materials--as well as donuts, coffee, and pizza. They're welcome to lend a hand as well.

Much of the work we did can be done by a weekend do-it-yourselfer. But your task can be greatly helped by a knowledgeable person or a professional. I always recommend people get an energy audit to help them form a home efficiency game plan. Many of them are free, sponsored by states or utilities, while others can cost about $500 for more extensive work (Go to EfficiencyFirst to find an auditor in your location.)