New Year's Resolution: A Healthier, Happier, More Energy Efficient Home
2010: A new year and a new decade have begun. No better time than to give your home a quick inspection and address those household projects or problems you have been putting off, ignoring or just have not noticed yet. If your house is starting to feel like less of a home and more of a leaky, drafty, moldy money pit, it could be due to any one (or more) of the following common household problems.
- High Energy Bills: We all know the drill: The utility bill arrives in the mail and we brace ourselves for the inevitable monthly sticker shock. If you heating or cooling bills seem higher than usual, it could be because of air leaks in your HVAC system, inefficient or poorly insulated windows and doors, incorrectly installed heating and air conditioning systems, or badly sealed and insulated air ducts.
- Mold and Mildew: Noticing a musty, unpleasant smell? It could be mold or mildew accumulation resulting from water leaks or high levels of humidity inside your home. Excess water can cause wood rot; bubbling or peeling paint and wallpaper; structural damage; staining on walls, floors, or ceilings; and health problems like allergies and asthma. If your home has a central air conditioning system, the problem could be linked to components that are the wrong size or that have been improperly installed.
- Water in Basement: Dampness in the basement is usually caused by water that seeps in through your home’s foundation. Any time standing water is present in your yard, like after heavy rain or when winter snow and ice begin to melt, there’s an increased chance of moisture coming in your basement. Cracks or breaches in the foundation make it easier for water to get in, causing higher levels of indoor humidity and promoting the growth of mold.
- Cold Floors: If you wouldn’t think of touching a toe to the bare floor during the wintertime without layers of wool socks and slippers, it could be due to insufficient insulation or invisible drafting through improperly sealed windows and doors. Obviously, certain floor coverings (hardwood, stone, ceramic tile, concrete) will feel colder on bare feet during the winter months, but excessive frigid temperatures might indicate a more serious problem.
- Drafty Rooms: When you can’t seem to keep your house a consistent temperature or notice that certain rooms are always much hotter or colder than the rest of the house, it could indicate drafts coming in through poorly sealed windows and doors. Air leaks in the attic, crawl space, or basement can also make a house feel drafty.
- Excessive Dust: Wearing out that duster and furniture polish? Excessive amounts of dust or a sudden increase in dust could mean it’s time to change the air filter on your heating and cooling system. It could also point to a problem with your home’s HVAC system or ductwork.
- Ice Dams: These nasty ice formations are caused when warm air from inside your home leaks out through attics and ceiling crawl spaces that are poorly insulated. As the air escapes, it warms the snow and ice on your roof and makes it melt. The water refreezes as it moves away from the air leak and forms icicles and ice dams. Ice dams can seriously damage your roof, eaves, gutters, shingles, and trim, thus it’s important to remove snow and ice from these areas as soon as you can.