Energy Upgrade California—Up Close and Personal Part 3

Posted by Jim Gunshinan on May 21, 2014
Energy Upgrade California—Up Close and Personal Part 3
Well what do you know, some of our walls are already insulated!
Here is the latest from the 10 Maple Lane Retrofit Project.
Met with Bill Stewart on Monday and signed an agreement for:
Wall insulation
Vapor barrier on crawlspace floor
Duct repair and some air sealing
I also asked them to move the filter to the return grill so that I don’t have to crawl around in the attic to change the filter every few months. And we may replace our very noisy bathroom fan and this time vent it to the outside instead of into the attic.
All this should earn us a rebate of $2,000, plus $300 back from PG&E for the test in. Our cost should be about $5,500 total before rebates. Some of the measures we are choosing— moving the filter and replacing the bathroom exhaust fan, are good measures but won’t qualify for rebates. We just figured it would be a good time to have these things done.
We decided to leave the HVAC system as is besides having the ducts sealed. We want to reach 10% duct leakage, the minimum to earn the duct sealing rebate, and hopefully even less. I installed a Chimney Balloon and put gaskets behind all the switch plates and outlets in exterior walls. I put some metallic tape around places in the air handler that were obviously leak spots and I think Bill’s crew will do more of that. Our big hope for the future is to replace the furnace and duct system with a mini-split heat pump and as few inside units as possible. A better insulated and sealed house is a plus no matter what we use as a heat source.

But here is some surprising news: I was putting out the trash and noticed some plugs in the wall on the North and Northeast corner of our house (see photo)! I never noticed them before. There are two rows of them, one at about chest level and the other close to the eves, about 16 inches apart! So I think a portion of the exterior walls have already been insulated. I took off a few socket or switch wall plates and looked in carefully behind the junction box to see if there is any insulation visible in those walls. It looks like a previous owner kept the South, Southeast, and West sides uninsulated, I'm guessing to take advantage of solar gain in the winter. We do notice that the North side of the house is a lot cooler than the rest. I wrote to Bill to let him know. It should cut down on the cost.

Anyone hear of insulating only some exterior walls to take advantage of winter sun in Northern CA?
Interesting what gets hidden inside the walls of 63 year old houses. It's also interesting what homeowners notice and when. I must have emptied the trash hundreds of times but never noticed the "plugs" in the wall until we decided to add insulation to the walls.

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