Winter of 2018 has been one of mad temperature swings, and when it has gotten cold, it has gotten really cold. I’m sure none of us are looking forward to seeing how what that looks like on our energy bill next month.

As I write this article the outside temperature is 17 degrees. I’m sitting in my living room with the furnace thermostat set to 70. I’m wearing a fleece jacket over a long-sleeve, over a t-shirt. My socks couldn’t be any thicker. And yes, I’m cold.

Ironically, I’m in a rental home, so much of the advice I’d give a homeowner I can’t take. But if I were to do anything for this home, I’d air seal it. Big time.

I went to plug in the vacuum cleaner this morning and was shocked by the cool air pouring from the outside wall socket. I can feel drafts near every window and door, and the bigger rooms of the house never seem to warm up. It’s ridiculous.

So if you’re currently enduring your own indoor cold spell and thinking about buying a home this spring, consider how important comfort is to you. We shouldn’t have to endure our homes, we should be comfortable in our homes.

What makes a home comfortable? Here are 3 key ways to ensure comfort this winter and for seasons to come:  

  1. Assuming that your heating and cooling units are in good working order, start with air sealing the home. Keep warm air inside your home and that frigid stuff where it belongs - outside the home.

  2. Then make sure your attic has proper insulation - R-38 is great. R-49 is best if you want to hit ENERGY STAR’s recommendation for our climate zone.

  3. Lastly, consider the home’s ductwork - is it air sealed? Is it inside conditioned space or hiding away in an uninsulated attic or crawlspace? If so, and the ductwork is leaky, your comfort level will not be high.

The path to comfort has plenty of DIY options (the Department of Energy offers a great list with step-by-step instructions, shopping lists and videos), but for some of the bigger projects -- and bigger comfort gains -- you might need professional help. Pearl has an approved contractor network who can assist with any of the above improvements, so contact us if you’re looking for estimate from a vetted firm.

These are the home improvements that really make a difference to how we feel inside our homes. If you’re looking to buy, add these features to your “really nice to have” list or roll their implementation into the mortgage if you end up purchasing a home that lacks them.

If you’re looking to sell and your house already has features like these, share that information with your real estate agent so that s/he can leverage it when marketing the home. According to the National Association of REALTORS 2017 Sustainability Report, over 70% of buyers rank a “comfortable home” as very important to them. Similarly one in three buyers rank utility costs as also very important.

Pearl Certification does, of course, offer a service which can verify the efficiency details for a future buyer and help capture value for an Appraisal Addendum.

And with that thought in mind, I’m back to my personal warming tactics - namely a throw blanket and a cup of tea. Cheers to those of you who live in a high-performing home!  #comfortenvy

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