Monday, January 25, 2010

Draft Dodgers

After our first freezing winter in our new 95-year-old home my wife and I decided to take advantage of the Government programs for energy efficiency upgrades and grants. We contacted Enwise, and on a free sales call one of their representatives ran through our possibilities for retrofitting, and reviewed the amount of grants that would be available to us. We decided to begin with the home audit to see where we stood. The geek in me loved the door blower test, where the house is depressurized with a machine that sucks the air out of it at 55km/h to measure air leakage in the house. Ours was rated 57 out of 100 in terms of overall efficiency.

Our greater problems were the cold temperature pockets and infinite drafts going through this old house. The gas bills were outrageous, and we were wearing our long johns indoors! Imagine that it was 10 degrees in our house during the January 2009 blackout, and some pipes even froze solid. Luckily they did not burst, like those of our neighbors. This and our constant shivering was what really made us aware of the low, almost nonexistent level of insulation in this house.

We were introduced to a new product called airkrete, a spray-foam insulation, that works with gravity, like blown-in cellulose. What set it apart was not only the higher insulation value (R3.9/ in) that it provides but also that it does not collapses with time like cellulose does.

Then we found out we were pregnant, and due in September. A winter baby meant that now we had a real reason to insulate, and time was of the essence. After some research on this product we decided to try the airkrete. It was pretty much a no brainer, and a easier process that we could have imagined. A full crew showed up on the scheduled day, and began insulating the exterior and some of the interior walls. I also asked them to insulate the top of windows and doors. This took about 6 hours to do 100% of the exterior walls, and an hour to clean up and re-patch the holes. After the crew left, it was as if nothing had happened, except now we were warm. We also noticed that the house was now almost completely soundproofed from exterior noise. Killing two birds with one stone, we now sleep better than ever before in our warm, quiet home. And I am happy to report that the baby's room is the warmest of all.

The house reached an insulation value of R16. The Ontario Building Code has raised its requirement for new homes from R17 to R19. And our energy efficiency score has gone from 57 to 73 out of 100. Not bad for a day’s work.

But best of all, we spent $4,800 to get the insulation done, we received $4,000 back from provincial and federal government grants, and we have been saving about $60 a month on our monthly gas bill, which means the expense has already paid for itself.

One only hassle we faced was the interior paint work over the interior insulation hole patches. We knew it was coming, however, and saved our previously planned paint job until after the insulation. Because we were planning to paint our place anyhow, there was no unexpected expense for us.

And we lived happily ever after…

Example of holes on exterior walls for airkrete installation