Customer Service: (802) 865-7300
Monday-Friday 8am-5pm
Weatherization

Weatherization

Weatherization is used to describe a variety of activities you can do to improve the thermal envelope of a building. Thermal envelopes are also sometimes referred to as the building's skin, or shell; you can think of them like your home's coat.

Weatherization activities primarily focus on insulation and air sealing of the thermal envelope and can offer strong electricity and heating fuel savings.

The BED Energy Services team is here to help you understand potential energy savings of weatherization activities in your home and provide technical assistance and financial rebates for weatherization projects. We can assist you with reducing the amount of money you pay to stay comfortable during cold and hot weather; call us at 865-7362 or email with your weatherization questions today!

Stack Effect

A major contributor to poor home energy performance and occupant discomfort is the unwanted entry of outside air into the lower parts of buildings (referred to as infiltration) and the unwanted escape of indoor air from the upper parts of buildings (referred to exfiltration).  This movement of air in and out of our buildings is referred to as the "stack effect."

Detrimental levels of infiltration/exfiltration can be caused by the stack effect, temperature differences between indoors and outdoors, pressurization from mechanical equipment, and weather conditions like wind. Inadequate air sealing can make the comfort and energy impacts of the stack effect worse.

stack effect

As warm air rises to upper levels of your home it exhausts into attic spaces through penetrations (i.e. recessed light fixtures) or unintentional openings (i.e. a loose attic access hatch) in the thermal envelope of the building. Cool air is sucked into the lower part of the building to replace exhausted air.

Air Sealing

You can minimize stack effect in colder months by ‘buttoning up' your home before heating season starts. Check out our tips for a warm home here to get ideas for maintenance and tips for thermostat settings for winter.

For more advice contact BED Energy Services at 865-7362 to schedule an energy audit to get assistance diagnosing sources of air leakage in your home and discuss your air sealing options. If you are using natural gas heat, schedule an energy audit with Vermont Gas.

Blower Door Tests

To locate leaks in your home so you can address them to reduce air leakage, you can also ask a contractor to perform a blower door test. A blower door test is used to pinpoint trouble spots, and uses door openings to depressurize your building to determine the quantity of air infiltration in terms of air changes per hour.

The lower the air changes per hour value, the tighter the building shell. Higher air changes per hour indicate that your home is leaky and air sealing would improve both comfort and energy performance of your home.

Insulation

Insulation is a major component of your home's thermal envelope. There are several main components of a home's shell that include insulation: foundation, walls, windows, and roof.

To improve the energy performance of your home in heating and cooling season and reduce energy costs, improve the quality of insulation in your home's shell, and/or add additional insulation.

An R-value measures the ability of a material to transfer heat via conduction. The higher the R-value of insulation, the greater its ability to resist heat transfer. Well-insulated homes use superinsulation strategies to maximize energy performance.

Home energy experts and advocates of Passivhaus, a green building standard that incorporates superinsulation strategies, recommend following the 5:15:20:40:60 rule when choosing cost-effective insulation targets for your building components:

  • R-5 windows and exterior doors = U-0.20
  • R-15 under or over basement slabs
  • R-20 basement walls
  • R-40 above grade walls
  • R-60 ceilings and/or roofs

Consult with a BED Energy Services specialist before pursuing a substantial insulation project or a large-scale replacement of your old windows. Before making big decisions, let us advise you so you can understand potential energy savings and return on investment and can make an informed commitment before you chat with salespeople or contractors.

DIY Guide to Sealing & Insulating

Weatherization Project Ideas

If your home feels cold in the winter, the heat does not evenly circulate throughout your home, or cold air is coming in from outside, check out this list for potential causes and suggested maintenance solutions.

  • Spot Sealing Doors and Windows - Do your windows allow cold air into the house? Are your doors well-sealed? While windows are not the greatest source of heat loss in a home, they are the easiest to weatherize for both homeowners and renters.
    • Install storm windows if you do not have them already. If your windows are very old, are single-pane, and leaky, they could be candidates for replacement.
    • Are windows and storm windows intact and properly shut and latched? Fastening latches improves the air seal around the window.
    • Make sure to check for open or damaged windows in infrequently-visited areas like upstairs rooms or the basement.
    • Consider using window insulation shrink kits to block drafts from leaky windows and doors during heating season. These can be installed on the interior or exterior of windows and doors.
    • If your door has weatherstripping, check its condition.
    • Consider replacing existing weatherstripping or adding your own DIY weatherstripping tape or foam to reduce air leakage through your doors.
    • If your door has an adjustable strike plate, make sure that it is adjusted so that the door closes tightly against the weatherstripping, providing an airtight seal.
    • Consider other do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions to reduce air leakage through the door and window openings (or unintended gaps or cracks) in your building.
      • Complete at least three Do-It-Yourself DIY Home Weatherization program projects in your home and receive $100 cash back.
      • Call the BED Energy Services team at 865-7362 with your project-specific questions.
  • Installing and Using Insulated Shades - Cellular shades keep heat inside during the winter by reducing heat losses through older or poorly performing windows. Double- or triple-cell honeycomb shades offer increased insulation values for better comfort and energy performance.
    • Size shades appropriately to ensure there are no air gaps at the sides or bottom.
    • Open shades and curtains on sunny days to get free heat from the sun.
    • Close shades as soon as the sun sets, to avoid losing heat through your windows.
  • Air Sealing Before Adding Insulation - Seal major air leaks in the house first before installing additional insulation. It is much more difficult to air seal after adding insulation.
    • Locate leaks with your eyes: do curtains move from drafts?
    • Locate leaks with your ears: do you hear air blowing into your home?
    • Locate leaks with your hands: do you feel cold air coming into your home? Touch baseboards and window frames with your hand; can you feel air blowing on your skin?
  • Choosing Insulation - Moisture control, ventilation and safety requirements should be considered when selecting an insulating material.
    • Consider using natural insulation materials like rock wool or wood and plant fiber products rather than spray foam or extruded polystyrene boards to lower the life cycle impacts and carbon emissions of the project.
  • Installing Insulation Properly - All insulation materials require careful installation to get the desired results.
    • Ensure continuous insulation. Attic hatches and stairwells are commonly missed opportunities.
    • Follow all instructions on material packaging and install insulation with great caution when insulating around chimneys and recessed light cans.
    • Check out this guidance for effective insulation projects via ENERGY STAR.
  • Spot Sealing and Insulating Attics - Is your attic leaky or cold? Attics and pull-down stairs can be the largest source of heat loss in a home.
    • Check the integrity of the seal between your attic door or hatch and the access area.
      • Seal air leaks with a professional spray foam gun.
    • If you do not have an attic hatch, consider building an air tight and well-insulated hatch.
    • Get more resources for your attic air sealing projects via ENERGY STAR.
    • Learn more about attic insulation projects, including a how-to video and materials checklist via our partner, Efficiency Vermont.
    • Consider hiring a qualified contractor from the Efficiency Excellence Network to help you with your attic projects.
  • Spot Sealing and Insulating Basements - Is your basement leaky or cold? Basements and crawlspaces are the second largest source of heat loss in your home.
    • Check the condition of the seal at your bulkhead doors. These are the leakiest places of basements that have them.
      • Consider insulating existing metal bulkhead doors and concrete bulkheads with appropriate thicknesses of rigid foam insulation. This is most effective for well-fitted bulkheads.
      • Consider replacing improperly sized bulkhead doors with a well-insulated exterior door.
      • Consider replacing ill-fitting bulkheads by building a new bulkhead door with at least 1.5 inches of rigid insulation.
    • The leakiest parts of the basement are the box sills, sill plates, and rim joists.
      • Fiberglass does not stop air leaks effectively. If you have fiberglass in your box sill or rim joists, pull it out, air seal, and re-insulate.
    • Get more resources for your basement air sealing projects via ENERGY STAR.
    • Learn more about basement insulation projects, including a how-to video and materials checklist via our partner, Efficiency Vermont.
    • Consider hiring a qualified contractor from the Efficiency Excellence Network to help you with your basement projects.
      • Select ‘Contractors' and ‘Insulation & Air Sealing' from the drop-down menus to find qualified weatherization contractors who are experts in air sealing and insulation in the Burlington area.
  • Comprehensive Air Sealing and Insulating Attics and Basements – If your home is older and very leaky, a comprehensive approach may be required. If you would like to get to Net Zero Energy, comprehensive weatherization can be the best and most cost-effective first step.
    • Consider insulating and air sealing your home through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.
    • Work with a contractor in the Efficiency Excellence Network to receive incentives; qualified experts can help improve installation quality and energy performance
      • Home performance contractors can help you with deep energy retrofits and prioritizing net zero energy building strategies.
    • Fill out an enrollment form today to learn about your eligibility for incentives of up to 50% of project costs, up to $2,000. Income-eligible Vermonters are eligible for up to $4,000.
    • Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity provides services to income-qualified households at no charge. If you qualify for their rates, visit Champlain Valley Weatherization to receive extra support on your weatherization project.