Considering an upgrade to your vintage or historic home? In this ongoing energy retrofit series, master craftsman Daniel Westbrook interviews industry expert Mark LaLiberte, founding partner and president of Construction Instruction. Mark has been educating the building industry on the science and physics of construction for more than 30 years, and is sharing the benefits of constructing durable, energy efficient, healthy homes in this series.

Here are a few things you’ll learn in this video:

Practical Things You Can Do to Save Energy

Many times, attics don’t have much insulation. One way to save energy is to work with a company that will first bring in a large vacuum to suck out whatever insulation is in the attic and clean up any mess made by animals and rodents who have made their way into the space. Once things are cleared out, you’ll discover gaps and holes—and likely feel air blowing in your face. To solve for this, fill gaps and holes with foam and caulk. Once you've addressed problem areas, new insulation can be installed in the attic.

Why It’s Best to Start an Energy Retrofit in the Attic

While other areas in your home may have air leakage, it’s best to start with the attic. The attic is the easiest place to access, which makes it the least expensive to upgrade for energy efficiency. Warm air rises, so in the winter time, warm air will escape through the attic. Sealing up the attic and insulating it with deep fiberglass will stop the warm air from leaving—and prevent any cold air from coming in. It's worth noting that insulating the attic without sealing the holes will only attract that warm, moist air—where it’ll eventually turn to mold.

Analyze Changes Before Performing an Energy Retrofit

Every time you make an adjustment, you should step back and say, “What did that adjustment do to the building? Is there anything at risk?” Perhaps you had a fireplace that burned well for the longest time, but when you sealed up the attic, smoke began to fill the room. Or maybe the air tightness in your home was improved through modifications, but now the water heater or furnace are no longer venting properly. When you make one change, you have to watch for others—and work to create a balance after interrupting your home's status quo. Once you have a safe, healthy, and more energy-efficient home, you can look even further into the next level of modifications.

Watch previous installments of our energy retrofit series on the Dunn Solutions blog, and stay tuned for more from Daniel and Mark as they continue to discuss energy retrofitting over the coming months.