The book Insulate and Weatherize is published by Taunton and is part of their Build Like a Pro Series – Expert Advice From Start to Finish. It is advanced weatherization and insulation techniques for a residential home in the North and Mid East United States.
This book, like all Build Like a Pro series, is geared towards the handy DIY homeowner or small general contractor. It is expert advice to the expert or near expert home builder. We are pretty educated Brooklyn green builders. We take lots of classes, read lots of books and have been building for years, and we found this book helpful in our quest to create the perfect Brooklyn green brownstone.
The reason is that this particular book focuses on possibly the most effective and green approach to green building: insulation and weatherization. No other aspect of home building and remodeling gives you more effective returns in energy savings and comfort for the dollar invested. It is very much the low hanging fruit and this book really helped us remember that and refine the skill.
For very little money it is possible to insulate and weatherize a home, be it a Brooklyn brownstone or a cape cod frame house, and notice real changes in the monthly energy bills and overall home comfort.
Esencially the book focuses on the simple concept of, “find hole, seal hole.” And then it replicates that many ways with lots of nice pictures and side notes on how to do it best.
In terms of your time, this book is one of the best uses of it if you want to learn concrete green building techniques that show a real change in building renovation.
Of course for good contractors these skills have always been there and were never called green, they were just the right way to build, but now that the green revolution is upon us these techniques have been thrown in the forefront of the movement.
And for good reason. For example here in Brooklyn, where we have old Brownstones with cold brick walls and drafty attic crawlspaces, energy conservation is so important if you don’t want to freeze in the winter and bake in the summer. It is more important than Solar PV, condensing boilers, low e windows, green roofs or chickens in the back yard. If your house is not a super efficient tight envelope you are wasting time and money.
So even though the Insulate and Weatherize book does not talk specifically about Brooklyn brownstones, it is easy to apply their technique to improve the quality of a Brooklyn brownstone.
It is easy to do: Just find the hole and seal hole.
Buy some spray foam, some caulk, and a bag of cellulose insulation and you are half way there. Then just go around finding the holes and plugging them up. If it is a small hole use caulk. If it is slightly larger us spray foam. If it is a large hole like an uninsulated wall studd then use cellulose insulation to fill it.
It really is that simple. It may not be sexy like solar PV and a green roof but like any woman in high heels will tell you, the alure of sexy fades real quickly if it is expensive and uncomfortable. What you eventually want is a nice pair of sweat pants and insulation and weatherization is the pair of sweat pants for the house.
Then, and only then, can you focus on big ticket items like condensing boilers, new windows, whole house insulation retrofits etc. And the book talks about that too.
It is a good book and something you will refer to more than once because of its useful instructional value in specific situations. Want to know the best way to seal a window? The book tells you. Around a pipe? Chapter Two.