1.) Heating Appliances
If you’re on a tight budget or are planning on a multi-step rehab over a longer period of time (to make costs more manageable), starting with replacing an aging heating appliance may be the best option. Old boilers and furnaces are real pigs on energy. Be it electric, natural gas, propane or any other form of energy, like your daddy’s vintage Cadillac these relics burn a lot of fuel. Replacing your old heating appliance with a new Energy Star rated boiler or furnace will immediately cut your hydro bill.
If you’re going into this green project with all guns blazing, it’s probably best you start with the foundation. Spray closed-cell polyurethane foam around the joists and floor framing above the foundation. This is an effective way to seal cracks between the foundation and floor framing that lets air into your house. While you’re at it, if your home is built on a concrete slab foundation, consider sealing any cracks with durable urethane caulk. It’s the best way to prevent naturally-occuring radon gas from entering into your home, not to mention water. It also acts as a barrier against subterranean termites.
In fact, for most of you (who have basements), you’ll want to include your entire basement in this initial step. We are located in Miami, Florida (basements are not permitted here due to flash flooding), so we have no working experience with basements. Ask your general contractor about sealing any air leaks in your basement.
Your next focus should be the roof. The greatest amount of thermal loss occurs through the roof. To stop air leaks and reduce thermal loss, you’ll need to seal up your home’s roof. A poorly insulated roof will result in a cold and drafty house in cold weather and a stuffy, warm house in hot weather. What makes roof insulation tricky is its need for adequate ventilation in the attic in order to regulate temperature and condensation. Consider cellulose insulation on the attic floor or rigid insulation on top of the roof sheathing.