Does your fireplace have a flue pillow?

Insulation and air-sealing can go a long way to making a home much more comfortable. In the case of this post-war colonial, an Energize upgrade made this home 32% less drafty!

More and more Northern Westchester homeowners are getting ready for the heating season by Energizing their homes. 

Insulation and air sealing can go a long way to making your home much more comfortable, less drafty, and less costly to operate.

In a column a few weeks ago, we looked at the impact of the EnergizeNY program is having by using word-of-mouth to spread the energy and costs savings gospel.

Homeowners who enroll in the EnergizeNY program are eligible for free- or reduced costs energy assessments and for low interest financing.

The Bright Home team is shown here preparing to pump dense pack cellulose insulation into the exterior wall cavities to reduce air flow and heat loss.  Bright Home is one of the area’s Building Performance Institute-certified contractors who are busy helping New Yorkers upgrade their homes to save energy and be more comfortable.

  • Install dense pack cellulose insulation in the exterior walls. This type of insulation also acts as an air seal.
  • Install air sealing and insulation in the attic, the rim joists in the basement, the overhang above the kitchen window, and in the knee wall access over the garage.

To tackle the exterior of the home, the contractor removed–and later replaced–one shingle every 16" per floor to gain access to the exterior sheathing of the home.  They drilled–and later plugged–2" holes every 16" to gain access to the cavities inside of exterior wall. Other spaces could be reached from inside the home.

In addition to energy solutions for walls and attics, the BPI-certified contractors also assess health and safety solutions for venting. In addition, the contractor recommended the following low cost measures:

  • Install a metal 4" rigid vent pipe exhausted to the exterior of the home with an air tight hood to keep air from entering the home when the dryer is not in use.
  • Install a solar-powered, thermostatically controlled attic fan in the roof over the attic to properly vent the attic space according to building code.
  • Install an inflatable and deflatable fireplace pillow to air seal the fireplace flue when not in use.
  • Install digital/programmable thermostats per zone as decided upon with homeowner.

To ensure the new insulation and air sealing has been properly installed, the contractors in the EnergizeNY program conduct a second blower door test after their work is complete

For this home, the post-upgrade results are impressive!

The upgrade produced a  32% reduction in air flow–from 37.45 cubic feet per minute at the initial blower door test down to 25.40 cubic feet per minute at the post-upgrade final blower door test. In other words, 32% more warm air will stay inside in the home all winter long. 

A big thanks to Herb and Sandy Oringel of Somers for sharing their Energize experience! 

PS: The fireplace flue pillows–yes, that is what they are called!–are a great way to seal your chimney all winter on those days when you are not roasting chestnuts in your living room. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

pauline schneider October 23, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Yep, energy efficiency is the low hanging fruit. The less energy we use, the smaller the carbon footprint, the more money in our pockets, the less we need Indian Point. All great things to strive for! And don't forget the added comfort of not freezing your tush off in the winter or sweating bullets in the summer.
Lea Cullen Boyer October 23, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Thanks Leo! Looking forward to leveraging On Bill Recovery to energy upgrade our 1892 home!
A Million to One Shot Doc, A Million to One October 24, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Hahaha -- put an E in front of anything and P.T. Barnum we're in a business. Sucker born everyday. "The less we need Indian Point?" Sprinkle a little reality on it. Just for taste.
Mishak Smit October 30, 2012 at 08:28 AM
Many people have some form of insulation in their homes but I wonder just how many people have heard of a 'fireplace pillow', otherwise known as a 'chimney balloon' or a ‘draftstopper’. It can be very handy because it stops draughts coming down the chimney when the damper is open, and may also help to reduce the energy bill. Of course, one could always simply close the damper but this may not be sufficient to stop the cold air coming in which is where the fireplace pillow could come in handy. Mishak, webmaster for <a href="http://www.aeroinsul.co.za">http://www.aeroinsul.co.za</a>


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »