A healthy home starts with weatherization

Published October 22, 2021

A cold draft sneaks from the attic, the walls are cold to the touch, and moisture is collecting in the basement. These signs point to a need to weatherize and, without action, can affect your energy bill and the comfort of your home.

Over 50% of homes in Minnesota were built before 1980. Because building codes were not widely adopted in Minnesota’s towns and cities until the late 1970s, many homes that were built before then lacked consistent building standards. Consequently, many homes were not designed with energy efficiency as a priority. 

Weatherizing your home provides long-term benefits by permanently reducing energy bills and energy consumption as well as optimizing energy efficiency. Because each home is unique, starting with an energy audit can be a good first step towards understanding the bigger picture of your home’s energy use. An energy audit will show which problems need to be fixed to improve the health and comfort of your home. If your home requires additional insulation and air sealing, a professional will also be able to advise you on the appropriate level of ventilation needed. You don’t want to seal your home too tightly and end up with moisture problems. Check with your utility to see if they offer reduced-cost or even free audits as a part of their energy efficiency programs.

While professional help is recommended, there are many do-it-yourself (DIY) options available too. For example:

  • Seal cracks around your door with foam or other weatherstripping where you can see light enter.
  • Caulk cracks in exterior walls, baseboards, and around cables or wires where drafts can enter.
  • Add foam insulation pads and safety plugs to seal outlets and switch plates.
  • Find more resources here.

Larger improvements, like adding insulation, replacing major mechanical systems, or sealing air leaks, can be a financial burden to some households. The good news is that there is assistance available. If you are income-qualified, the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and certain utility programs provide free home energy upgrades for renters and homeowners. Various financing options can also help defray the initial expense.

For more information about the Weatherization Assistance Program and to apply, visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s website. You can find your local service provider online or by contacting the Department of Commerce Energy Information Center at 1-800-657-3710 or energy.info@state.mn.us.

We also encourage you to reach out to your utility to see what types of energy efficiency rebates and incentives are offered and whether you qualify for income-based utility programs. Depending on the utility, income-based programs may work in conjunction with the federal Weatherization Assistance Program or may be implemented separately.

If you have questions about high energy bills, a new home addition, or any other home energy topic, we are here to help. Please give us a call at 651-300-4701 ext. 2 or email us at info@cubminnesota.org.

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Author: Hannah Hoeger

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