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home weatherization winona
Home Performance & Weatherization

When your refrigerator is left open, do you shut it? When your lights are left on, do you shut them off? You do this because you can see you are wasting energy. But would you believe the home itself is your biggest energy waster of all? It is estimated that 55% of your energy bills is from heating & cooling; 15% from hot water heating; 10% refrigerating food and 7% lighting. It’s easy to see energy wasted when lights are left on or when refrigerators are left open but the biggest wasted energy can actually be the home itself.

Identifying typical myths and misconceptions:

Before we discuss what can be done, we must first dispel certain myths and misconceptions that we regularly hear out in the public about weatherizing homes:

#1 “A house has to breathe” - although this statement has some truth, we want to control how much the home breathes and we want the home to bring in clean-filtered air.

#2 “Just add more insulation in your attic because heat rises” - you’ll hear this more than once – insulation does not stop air flow. Let’s say it again – INSULATION DOES NOT STOP AIR FLOW! Keep repeating that to yourself. For insulation to be effective, insulation needs an air barrier. Think of insulation as that fleece sweater you own. Wear it on a cold day and cold air can still hit your skin making you cold. But if you put a wind breaker over the fleece, now you’ve created an air barrier and insulated your skin and you will stay noticeably warmer.

#3 “Heat rises” - not completely false but not always true. Let’s change our thinking to: “Warmer air is more buoyant than colder air” so warmer air does appear to rise when surrounded by colder air. But what about colder air surrounded by hotter air? Yes, cold air drops and the surrounding heated air drops with it. So heated air can actually drop concluding the statement “Heat rises” is not always true. It may generally be true in our winters here in Minnesota. Conversely, cold air drops when surrounded by warmer air.

Summary: People who we hear using such folklore are really trying to simplify their home and are looking for easy fixes. Don’t fall for this trap – you could be throwing good money after bad. Homes are just not that simple. When we look at a home, we need use a whole house system approach. By this we mean we need to consider energy, moisture, air, people, structure and the mechanical systems that all influence & affect each other. At the end of a weatherization project, our goal is to maximize comfort, health & safety and minimize building maintenance.


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Mike Ellefson
Mike@BuildWinona.com
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