It all started when I was convinced raccoons or squirrels were living in my attic. I heard them moving every night. I had an inspection and they assured me there was no evidence of entry from the roof or below my upper story window. The inspector said I was probably hearing them crossing the roof, but it sounded like they were in the house.
“Maybe it’s mice in the walls.” he said. I thought “Unless they’re pulling chariots there’s no way mice can make that much noise.” He suggested adding some more insulation in the attic. We had never insulated the attic because there had never been access to it. So I started thinking about insulation. At the same time I had been learning about the Pocket Change Project. I wanted to do my part in reducing my effect on the environment.
I had a tour of Paul Dowsett’s house and the decision was final. I was really inspired by what he had done. I had never heard of air-sealing and insulating on the outside.
Instead of tearing out all of the interior walls we decided to wrap the house and insulate the attic under the peak roof.
Paul put me in touch with Randy Leishman and I liked him right away. He had some knowledge of environmentally friendly products and had done the same work on other houses, which I looked at. The type of air-sealing (Blueskin) insulation (Rockwool) and siding (Hardie Board) came recommended.
I got an energy audit and applied for the City of Toronto’s Home Energy Loan Program (HELP).
When Randy opened a hole in the ceiling to access the attic, he said there was no evidence of animals ever being up there, but no insulation either and the wiring was knob and tube. You can’t insulate on top of knob and tube wiring so……the rewiring started. Not in our budget but it had to be done.
While we were waiting for the wiring to be done, Randy suggested we consider insulating the whole attic including the flat roof part. We’re so happy we decided to. When the ceiling came off we saw there was no insulation, and a pipe coming from the bathroom for escaping steam was only going into the ceiling and not the roof vent. Luckily there was no mold.
Finally time to air-seal and insulate the house on the outside.
Here is the stripped house:
Blueskin is put on first as a simple and effective air-seal and a secondary layer of protection from water infiltration.
Rockwool insulation is put on over the Blueskin.
Then the siding over 2 layers of Rockwool, with latticed wood strapping to reduce thermal bridges.
We are so happy with the results. It has made a huge difference. The first night with the air-seal and insulation, a blanket came off of the bed. No more sound of animals tramping across. It was truly amazing. Our house is much more comfortable and quieter. No more drafts and cold noses. The furnace runs less and in the summer the house stayed cooler longer.
It cost $34,500 and we got a rebate from Enbridge for $3,000.
We were going to continue and insulate the basement but had to postpone when the pandemic hit. We will hopefully be getting the basement done this summer. I know we waste a lot of energy with the basement but had to proceed in stages. I am looking into heat pumps and alternatives to the gas furnace we have now. I’d love to eventually put in solar panels.
It’s hard to compare costs on bills. They aren’t changed much but we’ve also been working from home for the past winter because of the pandemic. So I think we’re using more energy but less is escaping because the costs are the same. It wouldn’t have been as comfortable working from home before we air-sealed and insulated.