Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I think we failed!

Well! Our energy audit was very enlightening. It took 3 1/2 hours for the engineer to poke into all the corners of our house and measure everything. On the plus side our windows (replaced in 2002) were great as were our choice of low flush toilets, the appliances we have replaced and our programmable thermostat.

The last step was to do a partial vacuum test for drafts. This our poor old house failed miserably - partially because of all our mid-construction projects so there are air leaks from open walls and ceilings sucking in air from the attic and the uncovered original floor boards at the back of the house and in the library let air in from the basement. Since we have R0 (except in a couple of spots we have renovated), there is lots of air flow through the walls and attics. It was so bad that I don't think we got a valid base reading from which to improve.

We did discover lots of small leaks that we can fix (in addition to the obvious ones mentioned above). We need to caulk all our baseboards and around the trim on a couple of windows. We need to spray foam insulation around all the electrical breaks in the attic (before the insulation is blown in). We need to put the little foam sheets in our electrical outlets and switches and Dave also recommended using the child-proofing electrical plugs for outlets not in frequent use. None of our 3 fireplaces have dampers - we planned to do something with the living room one (either block it off or put in an insert if one can be found) but the surprise was the other 2 in the dining room and north parlour - neither is functioning but there sure was lots of air coming out of them when we thought they were closed off. Yet another project.

We also found a couple of holes - in the back of our clothes closet in our bedroom is an old stove pipe circle which is cemented over, however the wall is far enough from the chimney that a gale blows down from the attic. In Will's room, there is a vertical shaft in the closet wall (very strange construction seems to be the problem - probably using whatever pieces of wood were around) which had another gale blowing down it.

Besides the insulation of the attic and walls, he also recommended insulating the basement walls in the header spaces and partially down the wall - this is feasible for part of the basement anyway; there is a several hundred pound metal cistern in the way for one corner - how we get that out of the way I don't know. He also wants us to insulate the crawl space, either from the outside (doable but an expense we can't afford), from the inside (completely un-doable since most of the crawl space is inaccessible) or insulating the underside of the floors above the crawl space (also un-doable due to the access problems).

We also got about 5 pounds of literature to help us save energy, do these projects and/or cure any insomnia we may have. There is info on lots of topics including grey water recycling, all types of heat sources, how-to books and lots of little tips. There are government grants for many of the improvements that one can make and we'll qualify for a few of them is we can get the work done within 18 months. Anyone who wants to help out with the work is welcome to volunteer!

In a few weeks, we'll get the written report on our home and an energy guide rating for the present condition of the house and a target we should be aiming for based on the construction, age etc. of the building. I'm wondering how high we will be.

Lots of work to do!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Energy Efficiency in 1848

Our house was built in 1848 (plus lots of additions with unknown dates). Today the house will have an energy audit by a government approved company called S.H.E. Consultants - Sustainable Housing and Education Consultants - the only company in Nova Scotia which can determine if you qualify for government grants to improve your energy use. Since our only insulation is in the 2 bathrooms and the library, which Wayne has put in, it will be interesting to see what the consultant says. The process costs a couple of hundred dollars (for which I think we get an actual written report) and then we have 18 months to do any grant eligible work and get an auditor back (that's the hard part with only one firm in the province) to check that it was indeed done.

We have the insulation firm (Alstar from Bridgewater) on hold awaiting this audit - we're going with blown in cellulose, R40 in the attic and whatever the exterior walls will hold. The firm guarantees that it won't settle (how I don't know) and they will return during the winter with infra-red equipment to make sure they didn't miss any areas. So at least we should be much warmer next year on cool days and if we are here all year we shouldn't go broke paying for oil - the bill this year was $2400 to keep the temperature at 5C all winter, and the last year the previous owners were here (2001-02) they spent $6000 on heat, so it won't take long for insulation to pay for itself.

It will be interesting to see what other recommendations we get.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Canada Day

Our annual Canada Day decoration.

The 1907 car leading the parade (it's Lockeport's 100th anniversary as a town)

My Rug!!

As promised, here is a picture of my 4 year project - now a fire-screen.