Here we go again. Another New England winter is directly ahead. Will it be mild and snowless like last winter or it will it be like the year before with ice dams galore and no place left to put the snow? That is the question.
Most homeowners in the local area are provided with gas and electricity from a major utility. All National Grid customers are qualified to receive incentives and rebates for energy conservation work under the Mass Save program. Changes in the residential utility-sponsored energy conservation program have been dramatic over the last few years and continue to evolve. However, the rebate for homeowners is significant, including free air sealing and 75 percent of the cost of insulation, up to $2,000, among other items. The work performed under the program is generally good and moves in the right direction toward energy efficiency, but it does not always offer the homeowner the best and most complete solution.
The initial Mass Save assessment is worthwhile and quite detailed. However, it does not include the use of a thermal (infrared) camera while your house is under negative pressure using a blower door (which is a large fan set up in an exterior door that blows air out of the house during the thermal imaging). The infrared camera reveals thermally deficient areas and air leaks that might otherwise go undetected. The combination of using these tools is often critical in properly prioritizing energy conservation measures.
It is common knowledge in building science that reducing air leakage in homes is the most cost-effective priority. The program covers the basics of air-sealing in the attic and basement with the use of caulking and targeted spray foam, but it does not go beyond these areas. Air-sealing additional areas in the interior of the house such as fireplaces, at baseboards and at window trim can be very effective at reducing air leaks, saving money and increasing comfort.