Do You Even Know if You Need an Energy Assessment? Part 6

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017 by Joy Padgett

This is Part 6 and the final topic in our blog series discussing reasons why you should have an energy analysis conducted on your home. We have covered quite a few topics and are now really grasping the fact that our homes have been telling us we need an energy assessment for years! We just didn’t understand them. Imagine how much more comfortable we could have been years ago had we just been able to decipher what our homes were trying to tell us.

As our values begin to shift toward health, energy efficiency, comfort and saving money where we can, we have become aware that our homes can play a part in all of these values. BUT, until now, the impact has been negative. Our homes have been uncomfortable places to live and have cost us money we could have used on something else. In some cases, our house was actually contributing to our health problems!

We’ve discussed 5 things our house uses to tell us we need an energy assessment. Today we’ll cover the last of the topics in this blog: Pests.

And I’m not talking about your husband, roommate, or your brother or sister! LOL!  I’m talking about those 4, 6 and 8-legged kinds. We all have bugs, ants or spiders inside our living spaces. And I, for one, don’t enjoy the company of bugs! I heard that you are never more than 5 feet away from a spider….and sometimes knowing that just gives me the creeps. I also heard the average person swallows 3 spiders in their lifetime. GROSS!!! While some pests are entering through the door when we open it, others are coming in through gaps and cracks we don’t realize are even there.

Mouse on white background

Most homes have had a mouse or two over the years and some have had possums or raccoons in the attic! For those of you who can’t get past my use of the word “possums” when it should be “opossums” sorry about your luck, but I live in Central Kentucky and we call them possums. These 4-legged creatures are known for their ability to destroy insulation, chew through wiring and make a total mess of your attic. They like to use insulation for nesting material and for their own personal bathroom. I even saw pictures of a roof hole where a raccoon had become trapped in an attic and chewed her way out through the roof leaving behind a trail of insulation!

One attic we went in to evaluate was riddled with bats! Dozens of these vermin were living in an attic and dropping guano onto the attic floor. Bats carry rabies. Humans can contact rabies if bitten by a bat. The presence of bat guano can lead to very serious illnesses such as histoplasmosis. Anyone can get this disease. It is a fungus found in bat droppings. The fungus grows into soil or into the materials found in the attic (like insulation) and, if disturbed, releases spores into the air and then you can breathe them in and contract histoplasmosis. PLUS, these spores can become airborne in the attic and then be sucked into the duct system and dispersed throughout your home….where you can breathe them in.

Pests aren’t just a nuisance. They can cause property damage, carry diseases, and cause serious health issues. When pests use insulation as a bathroom, and leaky duct-work is located in the same area, it is likely that the dried fecal matter will break down into small particulates that are then sucked into the leaky duct-work and distributed throughout the home for you to breathe.  If you have allergies, the presence of pests in your home could lead to an allergic reaction. Bees seem to enjoy living in attics and crawlspaces, and if you’re allergic to bee stings, you might be unaware of the dangers lurking inside your home. Spider bites can also cause health problems depending on what type of spider bites you. And I won’t even get into the issues bedbugs and cockroaches can bring!

Now, calling an exterminator is a great way to get rid of the insects that are already in your home. But, it won’t keep them out in the future. The chemicals work for a certain period of time and for certain pests, and then you have to have your home treated again. While you can request pet-friendly chemicals, they are still spraying chemicals into and around your house. And, when we’re talking about mammalian pests, well, the exterminator can’t spray for those!

Having an energy assessment of your home can uncover the presence of pests, determine how they are entering the home, and then provide solutions to decrease the ease of entry into your home. Can these pests be stopped completely? No, but reducing the number of entry points will reduce the number of pests that get into your home. When we’re talking about possums and raccoons and chipmunks and bats and birds, the size of the hole they are using to get into your house is larger than what a spider needs and is probably easier to find.

The assessment will also reveal any damage that may have resulted from the pests living in the home. This damage could pose safety issues if they aren’t found and addressed. Frayed wires, damaged piping, and clogged drainage pans can lead to fires, carbon monoxide leaks and ceiling collapse.

Having a thorough inspection completed on your home can identify potential health hazards within the home stemming from the existence of animal urine and fecal matter in locations where you may sometimes enter (like an attic or crawlspace). The photo below shows an attic we evaluated where mouse feces was present. The red arrows indicate droppings. Since children are often adventurous and may enter these areas without your knowledge, it is very important to have these areas examined and any potential issues resolved. Don’t gamble with your health or the health of your loved ones. Have an energy assessment conducted on your home.

Mouse droppings in attic

The company I work for can complete the assessment for you if you find that even one of our topics from the past 6 weeks applies to your house. Since your home is probably the largest investment you’ll make in your lifetime, it shouldn’t be under-performing, using more energy than it should be, harboring critters that can cause harm, growing molds that can be detrimental to your health, or causing you to be uncomfortable. The longer you wait to have your home inspected, the more likely you’ll suffer the consequences. Most utility companies these days offer energy evaluations at little to no charge. Some will even issue a rebate if you have the recommended work done on your home. The only thing they don’t do is tell you who does the work they recommend. That’s where the company I work for can help!

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