How Do We Make Our Home More Comfortable?

August 27th 2003
How Do We Make Our Home More Comfortable?

Dear Shell,

We have heard about Icynene insulating foam and wondered if you may have any recommendations regarding the removal of our blown- in insulation in favor of Icynene in the attic and/or walls. Our house is unbearably hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's as if there is NO insulation at all. Windows ice up from condensation in winter. The attic is vented at the gable ends and with one of those whirly-gig fans. We installed a bathroom fan, and a fan in one bedroom and also use a de-humidifier in the winter. The house is about 40 years old and 1140 sq ft in size. Would the Icynene product improve the situation?

G.S., Williams Lake

Dear G.S.,

Icynene is a wonderful product but in answer to your question "no", it is unlikely that it will do much to solve your problem. Even though you have taken some steps to address the problem, your home exhibits symptoms found in many other homes and has items that require further attention, such as:

1. Poor air circulation perhaps caused by a single speed low efficient natural gas furnace (I'll assume it is)

2. Above normal moisture conditions (leading to high humidity and the condensation on your windows)

3. Inadequate exhaust ventilation

4. The need to improved draft proofing and insulation

5. A review of the performance of your windows

In other words your home needs to be dealt with as a system.

There may be an incentive program offered by Natural Resources Canada that offers funding by way of a grant for energy efficient home improvements. To become eligible for the grant, you must get an Energuide for Houses Evaluation.

The evaluation will cost approximately $150.00 depending on who you get to do it. The evaluation has a value of $300.00 but Natural Resources subsidizes it to the tune of $150.00. As part of the in-home evaluation, you will receive an "A" report outlining and prioritizing any and all improvements that could be made to make your home more energy efficient.

After you have completed the recommended improvements, your home is retested at no extra charge and you will receive a "B" report. This report identifies the value of the improvements you have made. The difference in rating between the "A" & "B" evaluation reports will be used to calculate the amount of the grant you will receive.

As a rough ballpark calculation, the grant for addressing the items 1 through 5 above could amount to $800.00 to $1500.00 with the largest gains coming from the replacement of an old, standard efficiency furnace. In my opinion, the grant should be considered a bonus for taking steps to upgrade the energy efficiency of your home.