Friday, October 12, 2018

Got chills, St. Louis? Check Your Insulation!

Got the chills, St. Louis?  Slippers, warm coffee, and a steamy shower this morning!  Just 3 days ago, The Nenonens hiked (and waded) our way 5 miles through Castlewood.  In fact, we managed to hike 20+ miles over the past week thanks to lovely 80-90 degree temperatures!

Yesterday, however, in true Midwest fashion...
...Mama Nature surprised us all by taking a tumble in to brisk autumnal temperatures, abruptly ending the unseasonable Fall warm streak we have enjoyed thus far.

I have always said that my blog mimics my life, and this post is no different.  My goal here on CDN and the City is to yes, share my adventures but also educate the public on matters of the home.  Often times, that means learning from my mistakes.

I pose a question to you, friends: When was the last time that you peeked in to your attic and checked the level of the insulation?  Answer honestly, judgement-free zone here. 

Apparently in Casa de Nenonen, it has been too long! Way too long, if ever, since closing on our house.  Let's face it: Life is busy.  Homeowners tend to deal with what is directly in front of them: the garage door that needs adjusting, the lawn that needs mowing, the laundry and dishes and messy kitchen floor.  The mundane daily Homeowner tasks, sprinkled with the occasional crisis or voluntary weekend project, keeps us busy!  Am I right?

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we are currently under kitchen renovation...

In fact, a full gut! When our contractor descended from our attic this week after installing our new recessed lighting, he urged us to add more attic insulation ASAP.  Truthfully, Steve and I rarely even open the attic hatch in this house, as we have plentiful basement storage and it simply is not easily accessible.  

When I popped my head up there this week, however, I was horrified. I have been through enough career building inspections to know the importance of insulation.  I understand R-value.  Yet, I popped my head up in my own attic this week to find this...
Yep.  I am trying not to turn this in to an ashamed Homeowner confession post, but I have no excuse.  To the average person, this photo may mean little to nothing.  To put things in to perspective for you, however, this is the reality thanks to Energy Star...
Insulation's resistance to conductive heat flow is measured in terms of its thermal resistance or "R-value".  Kindergarten terms: the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness. The R-value depends on the type of insulation, its thickness, and its density.  Over time, insulation shifts or compacts and becomes less effective.   In fact, when insulation compacts, it acts more as a conductor than an insulator.

Our attic, MAYBE, is R-21 right now.  Again, no excuses people. Most local insulation companies recommend an R-49. The US Department of Energy recommends between R-38 and R-60 for the St. Louis area.

St. Louis County requires a minimum of R-30 on new construction and industry-wide, but that is considered RIDICULOUSLY and INSANELY low for our extreme Midwest temperatures.

So these are the facts: Beefing up insulation and caulking/sealing air leaks is one of the best ways to improve energy efficiency in your home. It is a simple home project that a Homeowner can do on their own and it can reduce your heating and cooling costs by up to a whopping 30%!

In addition, per Remodeling Magazine, it has one of the best ROIs (return on investment) of all home improvement projects.
In other words, THIS HOME IMPROVEMENT PAYS FOR ITSELF while keeping your family warmer on chilly days like today!  Win/win.

Our contractor has graciously agreed to bring Casa de Nenonen to an R-60 once our project is complete... 
While I am thankful that he alerted us to his discovery, we should have done our due-diligence and checked it prior to this renovation.  We should have done our due-diligence and checked it years ago.

Learn from my mistake, friends.  The cost of the project is nominal compared to the money saved.  Before temps plummet any further, walk around your home and pay special attention to these areas...
Your pocketbook will thank you!