Wiring, Plumbing
The smoke stick comes in handy when examining where wiring or plumbing chases cut through walls, floors, or ceilings—locations notorious for leaking conditioned air into the attic and letting outside air seep inside. Torrey used it to check the areas around light fixtures and radiator pipes and found a few trouble spots. Some will be taken care of where rooms will be gutted, but Tom will have to come back and either seal around the areas from above with canned foam insulation or caulk around them from below.

The Payoff
Energy-saving investments can show results quickly. "Air-sealing improvements can pay for themselves in one or two heating seasons," Torrey says. Larger-scale insulation upgrades can pay off in 4 to 7 years; new windows, in 7 to 15 years. With upgraded insulation and windows, plus other energy-saving measures, Maddy and Paul's house will certainly be more comfortable—and they could cut their energy costs by as much as 50 percent, compared with previous owners' utility bills. "Our move from a smaller home to this house is like switching from driving a VW to an SUV," says Maddy. "We want to reduce our energy use not only for the environment but for our budget, too."
Ask TOH users about Windows

Contribute to This Story Below