Tag Archives: Insulation

How to install cheap window insulation


You don’t need to buy new windows – you can use inexpensive film and do the job your self – here is a great step by step guide for how to do this.


Obama going big on Insulation

Little PEI is in the vanguard – here is a snip from the New York Times that talks about a major initiative in this area for the Obama administration. What if we pushed harder here? There is about $200 million in heating costs to work on – this is really a tax on Islanders. Imagine the difference if we could reduce this by 20% – $40 million more in Islanders hands – that’s $1,000 a household in savings!

Correct those flaws, and heating and cooling costs are typically cut by 20 percent to 30 percent, a saving of more than $1,000 annually in some households. In addition, carbon dioxide emissions and the strain on the national electric and gas systems are reduced.

About 140,000 houses will be weatherized with public help this year, a total that President-elect Barack Obama has promised to raise to one million, to reduce energy consumption and cut energy costs for households and taxpayers, who often absorb those costs for the poor. This would represent a historic shift in emphasis for the federal and state governments, reducing poor people’s energy bills instead of helping to pay them.

Weatherizing a million homes annually would also create about 78,000 jobs for a year, according to the federal Energy Department’s weatherization project director, Gil Sperling.

The current 140,000 annual total creates about 8,000 jobs, Mr. Sperling said.

Although that is a tiny fraction of the five million green-collar jobs that Mr. Obama promised in the campaign, “it’s a decent number of jobs per dollar spent,” said Harry J. Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University and at the Urban Institute, a nonprofit group in Washington. “The work is productive, and the jobs are at a mix of skill levels.”

Congress added $250 million to the weatherization budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Energy experts say that money could be effectively spent in low-income households and in households that have no need of public assistance.

In the forgotten corners of tens of millions of American attics and basements, near the old Trivial Pursuit games and out-of-season clothes, are flaws that waste vast amounts of energy. Buildings often resemble colanders. Leaking ducts bleed heated air into areas outside living space. Cold-air returns suck in dust and mold from attics, or gas and oil fumes from garden equipment stored in basements. Long-neglected air filters clog, forcing furnaces or air-conditioners to work harder.

Mr. Obama’s choice for energy secretary, Steven Chu, told a group in Washington in June that an extra $1,000 could make a new house energy efficient “but the American consumer would rather have a granite countertop.”

Progress on the insulation front on PEI

More than 1,200 P.E.I. households have taken advantage of government-subsidized home energy audits this year.

Mike Proud, manager of the Office of Energy Efficiency, told CBC News Monday that the rising price of fuel created a lot of demand for the audits over the summer and into the fall.

“It’s mostly insulation work. We hoped that that would be the case because we know that that’s the best investment to make,” said Proud.

“We’ve seen a lot of people doing the basement insulation, the attic insulation, even some doing exterior wall insulation.”

Proud believes when the price of furnace oil began to fall in July some homeowners may have postponed their plans to install alternative heating systems like pellet stoves, and decided on less-expensive upgrades.

“The whole popularity of the wood stove/pellet stove type of thing, you know, while it’s still there, it certainly hasn’t overtaken us like it did last year,” he said.

Since the beginning of the fiscal year, April 1, to the end of November, the office has loaned $1.2 million from a budget of $2 million.

Source CBC

Insulation – How to save the most money for the least cost

Last week I met with Mike Proud of the PEI Office for Energy Efficiency to get the facts behind the idea that it is not the toys (my purchases of wood stoves, pellet stoves, solar etc) that really save you money but stopping the leaks and insulating your home. This is what I found out – I feel such a fool for not starting here.

The Big Picture – Assume an average house on PEI – 1,200 square feet – If you insulate your basement and your attic and block the main leaks you can save up 40% of your oil bill. The average oil consumption on PEI is 3,500 litres. So about $1,200 at current prices. That is a lot of money for anybody.

The details – Your basement and your attic are the key areas. Mike Advises R50 in the attic for older houses and R60-80 for new houses. I discovered that I might have R12 at best. In October I am adding the rest that I should have had all along. I will post the details with pictures and commentary when the work is done.

Here is our basement under the Granny Flat. Robin did all of this herself with the aid of a neighbour’s son. I can’t recall where I was then! Styrofoam on the wall and fibreglas in the edge. It took her less than a day.

Air Leaks – An important part of the situation. 30% of the loss of heat in your house. Our electrical wall sockets are an important area of loss. We are using the child proofing plugs right now but are thinking of going further and removing the plugs and insulating behind them. We also have new windows but this is a huge expense. You can use plastic film. Our doors also did not fit as snugly as they should and we also use insulating door tape that sticks onto the jam.

The PEI Government can help you:

Beginning August 1, four new or amended programs for existing homes will be available through the Office of Energy Efficiency. The programs are budgeted at $1 million, with money coming from the Trust Fund for Clean Air and Climate Change. An energy audit will be required to be eligible for all of the programs. The new programs include:

Low Income Loan Relief – Low income clients who wish to take advantage of the Prince Edward Island Energy Efficiency Loans Program, will now be eligible for up to 50 per cent loan relief. Up to $15,000 in income – 50 per cent of loan will be written off; between $15,000 and $30,000 in income – 25 per cent of loan will be written off. The program provides loans for home improvement measures recommended in an ecoEnergy Energy Efficiency Evaluation Report.

Renewable Heating – Renewable heating systems (wood, wood-pellet, solar, etc.) will be eligible under the Prince Edward Island Energy Efficiency Loan Program, to a maximum of $10,000, as long as the client makes efficiency improvements to the home as well.

High-Efficiency Oil-fired Heating Systems – An additional subsidy of $300 will be available for Energy Star Certified oil fired heating systems installed in combination with an indirect water heater or an outdoor temperature reset control. This will be supplemented by an additional $1,200 already available in other incentives and grants.

A successful program from last year will be returning:

Home Energy Low-income Program (HELP) – Reinstatement of this program will provide low-income homeowners with free assistance in completing comprehensive air-sealing, installation of energy saving devices and free furnace cleaning. Homeowners who have previously utilized this program will be eligible for the enhanced HELP program. The 2008-09 program is particularly focused on controlling air leakages – the major cause of home energy loss.

These programs are in addition to the Prince Edward Island EcoEnergy Audit Assistance Program and the Prince Edward Island Energy Efficiency Loan and Grant Program that were announced in March of this year. Under these programs the province pays half the cost of a home energy audit for households earning more than $30,000 and the full cost of audits for households earning less than $30,000.

Information on these programs is available on the Office of Energy Efficiency web page at www.gov.pe.ca/oee.

Mike tells me that it is easier to call him and his office at 902 620-3690 or 1-877-734-6336

Here is a great check list if you want to get a handle on what your opportunity to save will be: The pdf is here: air-leakage-checklist-aug-26-2008-1

If you want to do this work your self, Here are some good tips on how to do the work from the Federal Government

Here is the Kit that you can get from the PEI Government:

What is my biggest lesson in the last 5 years? Insulation!!!

I tend to be too early in most things – yes I paid a fortune for a DVD player when there were also no DVD’s. It has been the same for saving on my oil bill. But while being silly – I am not stupid in that I do learn from my being too early. Here is what I have done (bought and installed every toy out there – wood boiler, wood stoves, pellet stoves, solar water heater, new windows) and now I will tell you what I have learned.

What I missed from the outset was that the best bang for my buck would come not from new sources of heat but from losing less heat. I sort of got that when we replaced at huge cost most of our windows. This was a 5 year project and of course it does help. BUT it is very very expensive.

What I missed is that we should have R50 in the roof. Very simple and compared to windows – very cheap. The contractor comes for a quote this Saturday. We only have R12 now. I will tell you more after he has given me the lowdown. If you have a new house it is best to have R60-80 installed.

The big lesson in all of this is to find the best way to cut consumption. The experts say that we can cut up to 35% of our use of heat by really insulating well. Here is a neat short video made by our own Sara Fraser (no slouch in her own life either as this interview with her will show you as she demos her own solar water heater) of the CBC that tells us more about the opportunity and how inexpensive this can be. Here is the  CMHC site that has a lot of information on insulation.

So I have done all of this in reverse. I should have started with simple insulation.

By the way (Link to my own story here) Then link will tell give you a lot of detail on my high efficiency wood stove that heats my entire house.  It shows you a lot about the workings and the installation of the pellet stove that we put into our Granny Flat and talks about pellet fuel – all pellets I have found are not the same.

The solar heating is something that I want to give a post too – after 2 years we are just getting this right. I will also post soon on my biggest single failure – my wood boiler. Also later the issue of wood itself – what I am learning abut storing it, using it and selecting it.