Bruce Kaplan, Lifestyle Properties at Keller Williams Realty

When showing homes to new and seasoned buyers, rarely does the future homeowner ask about energy efficiency. The question typically is “how much oil or gas does the home use?” The real question homeowners should ask is “how well does the home perform?”, because that is where the true understanding of home efficiency begins.

When we buy a $35,000 car, we know more about the energy performance of that car by looking at the window sticker than we do about a $350,000 home. The average car only uses $1,000 in gas annually, while the average home heated by oil or gas in Southern Maine uses $3,000 to $5,000 annually. That’s $30,000 to $50,000 over 10 years!

Think of your home as a hot cup of coffee with a lid on it. If the cup is paper, you will need a paper holder because it’s too hot to hold since all the heat is escaping from the sides.

Put that same coffee in an insulated foam cup with a lid on it, and now you can hold it in your hand because the heat stays inside the cup. A house works the same way. The more you do to keep the heat from escaping, the more heat stays inside.

There are a few simple things you can do to improve your home’s performance by 30%-50% and potentially save thousands of dollars.

A complete energy retrofit of your home can be expensive. I would start with a free energy audit by some of our local Southern Maine vendors: Dead River Company in Scarborough & Biddeford, Goggin Energy or LaPlante Electric in Portland, Gelina’s HVAC in Scarborough, or Southern Maine Heat Pumps in Gorham to name a few. 

Once you have your audit, you will have a plan of attack and know where the home is not performing well. Start fixing the small inexpensive things, such as sealing the leaky windows and door with weather stripping. Think about it. The average home has 20-25 windows that are like holes in a cup of coffee.

That’s a lot of lost coffee. And it burns your hand and wallet when it leaks. Next, inspect the rim joist, the wood floor that sits on the foundation walls and runs the perimeter of the entire home.

Fill it with insulation or some insulated foam board. Next, find the access panel to your attic and use the same foam board on the back side facing the attic and seal the sides. You would not believe how much heat we lose in that unused little hole.

You’ve just improved your home’s performance and increased the energy efficiency at a low cost all in one weekend. Rather than filling the attic with insulation and changing the windows, you’ll save thousands of dollars and live in a healthy, happy home.