Insulation is Cool – Literally!

I’ve written a few times over the 18 months about our home renovation and how we went as green as we could afford. The last time, I was sitting in my dining room during our crazy-snowy winter.

Almost six months later, we’ve just gone through one of the worst heat waves I can remember. And that led to a massive thunderstorm cell that did quite a bit of damage to the DC area. It hit us about 3:30 on Sunday. We were sort of on the southern edge of it, but looking to the north was impressive and ominous.

Just before the skies opened, our power went out. Not that big a deal at the time – we just sat on the porch and watched the storm roar along. But when it didn’t come back on, I started worrying about our fridge and our AC. I get hot very easily.

4158_1157385457836_13237331As the hours wore on, though, I was again reminded of the benefits of our approach to insulation. Since we had the walls off while renovating, we blew in foam to air seal the house, then put fiberglass on top. We also put in double-paned windows with special coatings to reduce direct heating from the sun (I really appreciated the info I got on the Energy Star Web site about all of this). Our porch also keeps the sun off the ground floor windows in the front.

The result? The house doesn’t heat up or cool down very quickly. So although we had no AC during high temperatures, we were pretty comfortable inside. As for the fridge, we just kept the door shut (unlike during Hurricane Isabel, when we ran a very long extension cord across the street to our neighbors’ outdoor outlet).

Have you made any green building choices that later made themselves felt?

If you’re thinking about renovating, check out EPA’s info on green building!

About the author: Jeffrey Levy is EPA’s Director of Web Communications.