For those of us in the construction industry we know it can be hard to get consumers excited about increasing a homes energy performance. Investing money on insulation versus new granite counter-tops can be a tough sell. President Obama thinks differently. President Obama says “insulation is sexy because it saves money”. If that were true, Walmart would be sexy too.
In 2009, President Obama was quoted as saying he hoped the $8 billion in stimulus funds targeted to save energy and reduce energy bills would boost hiring in construction and and manufacturing to help stimulate the economy but it hasn’t worked out that way. With home prices still declining nationally and many people under water in their homes value, getting homeowners to upgrade insulation doesn’t sound too sexy.
Recently, Vice President Biden joined U.S. Department of Energy Steven Chu to introduce a program called the Home Energy pilot program aimed at retrofitting existing housing stock. I hate to be hard on Washington, but the issue is not another program from Washington. In my opinion, people are more concerned about keeping their jobs and a roof over their heads at the moment. When they are not concerned about such things, the fact remains.. insulation is NOT very sexy.
Still, upgrading the energy performance of your home IS a good idea if your financial situation allows for it. One of the easiest places to start is by improving the exterior envelope of your home. This includes the exterior walls, windows and doors, foundation and roof/attic. Start by first caulking and weather stripping your home. Air penetrations can significantly increase your yearly energy bills. On older homes, caulking and weather stripping is often overlooked and one of the lowest hanging fruit in terms of improvement cost versus energy savings. If your home is caulked well, the next place to look is your attic. Adding fiberglass insulation to the attic is fairly inexpensive and also a fairly quick return. Of course the older the house, the more these things make sense.
There can be a reasonable payback, but be very careful of unscrupulous contractor’s who will overstate energy savings. Do your homework and check out the contractor thoroughly.