The federal government’s proposed $6 billion Home Star program aims to make millions of U.S. homes more energy efficient by encouraging homeowners to weatherize their leaky abodes. As outlined, the program would offer instant rebates of at least $1,000 for things like highly efficient water heaters, heating and cooling systems and insulation.
“Having enough insulation – and the right kind of it – is just plain smart,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, the nation’s leading provider of consumer reviews on local service companies. “The planned rebate is just another reason for homeowners to take a look at their insulation.”
More than a third of Angie’s List members said in a recent nationwide poll that they were planning to address their home’s energy issues even without the program. Another third say the incentives have them planning to weatherize as well. Three-fourths of the respondents say the federal rebates are a good idea.
Studies show that more than half the homes in the U.S. are not properly insulated even though insulation is one of the lowest-cost weatherization
options and offers immediate cost-savings year round.
But, Angie warns, different climates require different grades of insulation
, and it can be tricky to install. Insulation maximizes the efficiency of your furnaces and air conditioners, which will reduce your monthly energy costs.
“In addition to these proposed rebates, there are existing tax credits available to homeowners who are energy efficient,” Hicks said. “If you’re doing it yourself, you’ll need to research what you need in both type and amount of insulation as well as tools and time.”
For those not going the DIY route, Hicks said research is still required. “The first step is to find the right person to do the job,” she said.
One Angie’s List member reported hiring a contractor who went beyond expectations by using leftover insulation in spaces above her garage, honoring a competitor’s coupon and sharing details on the tax incentives.
“In another instance, the service provider showed up with the wrong material. When he returned with the right type of insulation, he still didn’t have enough and was short-staffed to boot,” Hicks said. “Remember to do your homework and find a highly-rated insulation specialist, so you’re not left out in the cold.”
Tips to determine your weatherization needs:
• Inspect your attic: Look in your attic, if you see exposed two-by-four’s, you are probably due for some more insulation. Contact your local utility company to request an audit or hire an energy auditor to do an in-depth review of your home’s energy needs.
and doors check: Feel the edges of your windows and doors to detect air flow coming in from the outside. You can also turn your air off and walk around with lit incense to look for drafts, which will pull the smoke in that direction.
• DIY or Hire help? If you want to do the insulation yourself, then you’ll need to rent supplies, buy the insulation and safety gear, which you can purchase at most any big-box hardware stores. Be aware that adding insulation to your attic could be dangerous; you may step through the ceiling or even fall through it. For this project, you might just want to find a trusted contractor that will do the job for you.
• Check out the materials: Different companies use different types of insulation. Fiberglass and cellulose are two of the most common, but there are other forms you can use, so you will need to research or ask the company what your options are and the differences between the varieties of insulation. If possible, use insulation that is free of volatile organic compounds.
1,017 Angie’s List members responded to the poll.
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