Build Savings into Your Next Remodeling

One of the best times to ensure that your home conserves energy and water is when planning a remodeling project. While you invest in making your home more functional, accessible and beautiful, don’t miss opportunities to lower your ongoing operating costs and protect the environment for the grandkids.

It’s second nature for Tomco. Regardless of the price of gas or the state of the economy, we consider conservation upgrades in every major remodeling project. We start by recommending an energy audit that includes a blower door test and infrared heat scan to measure air exchanges and locate air leaks and hidden insulation gaps. Xcel Energy will do it at a bargain price of just $100.

Ideally, we like to do a blower door test before we start a major remodeling project and again after we are done to provide quantitative proof we made things better and to enable our clients to qualify for the biggest rebates. Depending on their income, clients also may qualify for low-interest loans to reduce their energy use. The Minnesota Energy Code requires blower door testing in new construction, but it’s worthwhile in any major remodeling.

Most of us think our homes already are pretty energy efficient especially if they are less than 20 years old. In truth, many are not by today’s standards. With a professional audit you will find out what’s worth fixing. You also will discover if your home is so tight that the stale indoor air is unhealthy (even if it smells okay).

Tomco Conservation Techniques

Here are some of Tomco’s favorite strategies for remodeling projects that keep on giving – and saving.

Insulation: Spray foam rim joists, foundations and between floor joists over crawlspaces to block air leaks and cold. Completely fill rough openings around windows and doors with minimal expanding spray foam and seal windows with approved elastomeric tape and high-grade polyurethane caulk. Seal around cables, pipes and recessed ceiling fixtures in attics and add insulation to achieve R-50. Install air blocking panels and ventilation chutes at eaves so the area over exterior walls can be fully insulated and to prevent cold air from soffit vents from getting under the insulation. Seal around all electrical boxes, exhaust fans and pipes within the living space. Install insulation and gaskets for attic access scuttles. Insulate hot water pipes. If possible, install furnace units and water heaters in centrally located areas to be more efficient and to conserve long wait times for hot water to your tap.

HVAC: Replace old furnace, water heater and central air conditioner with Energy Star rated high efficiency units. Install gas inserts in wood-burning fireplaces. Seal HVAC ducts with mastic. Add heat exchanger or (HRV) Heat Recovery Ventilator for reliable year-round ventilation. Upgrade to a programmable thermostat.

Appliances: Specify Energy Star rated high-efficiency kitchen and laundry appliances and lower the temperature on the water heater.

Lighting: LED lamps and fixtures.

Plumbing: Low-flow toilets, faucet aerators and showerheads

Windows & Doors:  Energy Star rated low-e windows and insulated doors. Add skylights to deliver natural light to interior rooms. Replace weather-stripping where needed. Completely fill rough openings around windows and doors with minimally expanding foam insulation and seal new windows with flashing tape.

Recycling: Convenient two-basket pullouts in kitchen.

Saving in St. Louis Park

Some of these energy upgrades are inexpensive and easy. In fact, you can do many yourself. But while you have a small army of tradesmen in your home and open walls, why not consider more of them.

Energy conservation was a prime consideration when Tomco remodeled a St. Louis Park home. The project included new Marvin windows and doors, insulated the rim joists and basement walls, sealed air leaks, added attic insulation, installed higher efficiency furnace, air conditioner, water heater, kitchen appliances and lighting, and water-conserving plumbing fixtures. Hear what the client had to say.