Maybe it’s time to invest in some upgrades to our homes.
Home renovation has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy during the pandemic, with homeowners splashing out on home offices, new patios, even family theaters — and sending lumber prices soaring. But with more extreme weather on the way, more homeowners should be thinking about the home improvements you don’t see: insulation and power generation.
If you’re willing to do a wholesale renovation, tons of stuff can be done to improve a home’s energy efficiency. But most of us aren’t eager to start tearing down walls. So I called our old neighbor and asked him how he’d upgrade a house for extreme weather without making too much of a mess in the process.
Robillard says the easiest place to start is at the top: Insulate your attic. Homeowners tend to focus on walls and windows, but most heat is lost through the roof, because heat rises (duh). “This is definitely where you’ll get the most bang for your buck,” he says.
And before insulating the attic, check for air leaks. If there are holes drilled in the wall for power lines, or leaks around the chimney, seal those first, then insulate. Hire a professional or rent an infrared imaging camera from the local big box hardware store for about $50; on a cold day, the air leaks should be immediately obvious.
In addition to saving on heating and cooling costs, these modest insulation improvements can often net tax savings, rebates or other government-subsidized savings.