Author Archive for weldon

“We Can’t Afford To Heat the Whole Neighborhood!”


I can still hear my Dad admonishing us for leaving a door hanging open as we came bumping back into the house from playing outside.  Remember that warm blast of air that would greet you at the door?  When we were kids, we never put much thought into how the heat Dad was paying for was washing down the street, did we?

Now that we’re the ones paying the bills, we don’t like wasting our energy dollars, and we probably dust off that old line for the benefit of our offspring now.

If we don’t like the heat rushing out the door, we really don’t like the idea that it might be seeping out through the windows, electric outlets, and even through the very walls, either.

So much has changed in building technology since Dad’s house was built.  Insulation products have improved, and we have much more information about how heat moves through … and out of a building.  It’s not enough to use fiberglass or blown cellulose to put a blanket around the house.  We now understand that air sealing is just as, if not more important than the insulation values.

If you live in an older home, you probably avoid certain parts of it during the winter because those rooms are chilly, no matter how high you set your thermostat.  Likewise, in the summer, you might suffer from “hot spots.”

TerrySandy House 009

Most homes have unconditioned spaces in the attic, or in the crawl space or basement.  The temperatures in those spaces are more in line with what’s going on outside than in, so rather than providing a thermal “cushion” to your living space, they provide more of a gateway for that outside air to be in direct conflict with climate you’re trying to control.  When gaps exist, that warm air you’re paying for will slip right through the cracks, and you will in fact be paying to heat the neighborhood.

Likewise, the dank musty air of your crawl space, or the superheated air in your attic can also infiltrate your living spaces, bringing with them uncomfortable air, and in some cases mold and other contaminants.

So how do we address this?

TerrySandy House 025

First, it’s important to know that Chesapeake Green is an independent Energy Consultant.  We aren’t in business to sell you replacement windows, or to install an expensive treatment in your crawl space.  Our goal is to thoroughly analyze your home, and give you a comprehensive report of recommendations that you can use to shop for competitive sources to make any repairs that are needed.  In some cases, we can direct you to resources that may be available to help reduce your out of pocket costs, too.

Chesapeake Green can come to your home and perform an Energy Efficiency Check-Up.  We’ll take a thorough survey of your home, and review problem areas that you identify as having comfort issues.  Using our Blower Door Test we can measure how air tight your home is, as well as take a closer look at where outside, unconditioned air is infiltrating your home.

We use a thermal imaging camera that clearly shows where the hot and cold spots are, and we check critical points such as attic stair hatches, door and window frames, and around plumbing and lighting fixtures for drafts.

TerrySandy House 053

Fixtures and framing that aren’t properly sealed against air flow are shown in contrasting colors.  In this winter view, the room is heated, so the normal temperatures are the orange areas.  The blue indicates that there is no air sealing around the light fixture. The cold attic air is open the conditioned space of the house.

We also conduct a physical inspection of the foundation, attic, and the partitions that separate unconditioned areas, such as garages, utility rooms or attached storage rooms, and the heated parts of the house.  We verify that insulation and air sealing is complete and installed properly, or we identify areas where there might be repairs needed to improve your home’s performance.

We analyze your appliances and home heating system as well to see if there are other aspects of your energy bill that can be improved by repairing or replacing these items.

In the process of conducting an Energy Check-Up, we have also discovered other problems that may be created by excess moisture and air infiltration, such as rotten wood or mold in the foundation.  Our thermal imaging has also picked up overheating electrical devices, and other potential hazards that should be addressed.

Contact us today to schedule your Energy Check Up.  Our service fee is competitive, and our report of recommendations is comprehensive.



Embellishing History

The little brick Cape Cod on School Street in Cambridge already had a lot of history before we started. It was originally built as a wing to the 18th Century manor house “Glasgow” but was moved to its present location sometime in the early 20th century. Glasgow still stands a short distance away.

Since it had been just a part of a larger house originally, it had some odd features. The entry was off to one side, and the stairhall was located in what is now the rear of the house. The tiny kitchen was in a small frame annex off to one side. Upstairs, the bedrooms were laid out around the stairway, including an odd landing that put a few steps between two of the bedrooms.

historic renovation before

A local real estate lawyer purchased the house, which is surrounded by a generous lot bounded by athletic fields on one side, and a scenic old mill pond on the other. A large barn still stands near the pond, reminding one of the agricultural history of the area.

The owner’s objective was to add important updates to the house, including a modern Master Suite, and a spacious kitchen and family room. He also wanted to provide larger bedrooms with better access upstairs. At the same time, though, he desired to preserve the historic nature of the original part of the house.

To meet all of the objectives, we designed two additions, one for each end of the house. To the left of the front door, we added a large master suite with a large Palladian feature window, vaulted ceilings, spacious closets and a fireplace. Upstairs a large bedroom was included with windows looking out to the athletic fields and over the swimming pool out back.

Family Room Addition Renovation Historic Remodel

On the right side of the house, we laid out a beautiful new kitchen with a large working island and breakfast bar, which opens into a spacious family room. The family room features floor to ceiling windows affording views to the wooded back yard, and sliders to access the pool area. We added a new covered porch out back to connect the two additions, and to shade the southwestern-facing patio adjacent to the pool.

window wall renovation remodel addition historic

Out front, we distinguished the entry with a columned portico, crowned with a colonial railing. In the end, the original character of the Cape was preserved, with its original brick façade complemented by the tan siding applied to the additions.