Bringing Home Savings #4: Clean filters and spray foam seals add up to savings
Josh Silver has two other simple home projects for those looking to save energy and money: maintaining oven and heat pump filters, and using spray foam to seal a common home air leak.
Silver took CBC PEI with them on their journey to a more energy efficient home, from an energy audit to improvements.
At the end of the series, he’ll add up how much money and time he spent – and how much the savings were.
Josh Silver has some advice on how spray foam can help homeowners fill a common void under their sink. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
Cleaner oven filters
Silver said homeowners should change their oven filters every three to six months.
He said the filters cost anywhere from $ 2 to $ 8, depending on the size, and are available at most hardware stores.
According to Silver, changing the oven filter regularly has several advantages. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
“They’re very easy to pull out and put in. Just like a book on a shelf – it’s very easy,” said Silver.
“Everyone is a little different, but if you look at the instruction manual you can find out exactly what it takes. If you don’t have the instruction manual, you can always look it up online.”
According to Silver, changing the oven filter regularly has several advantages.
“Basically, this reduces dust and pollen in the air, which is important to all of us, especially those who have people who are allergic in their homes,” said Silver.
“It also reduces the wear and tear on the machine because the oven is pushing very hard to get through that clogged filter … If it’s a clean filter, it doesn’t have to work as hard.”
Silver indicates the contrast between the old and new filters and shows how much the oven filter absorbed. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
Silver has a pro tip: use your camera to record the orientation of the filter as you pull it out so you can insert the new one properly.
He’ll also suggest taking a photo of the type of filter you already have so you can be sure you’re buying the right replacement.
Clean these heat pump filters
According to Silver, regular cleaning of the filters in a heat pump can also lead to savings.
“As a homeowner with no experience, we can get 10 to 20 percent efficiency,” said Silver.
“We save on equipment wear and tear, and we save that on getting more energy-efficient heat. We get more for our money.”
Silver opens the access door on his heat pump and then simply pushes out the filters. He said they should be easily accessible and clean for the homeowner. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
Silver said once the access door on the heat pump is opened the filters pop out so you can just slide them out.
Our CBC crew watched him clean the sink and remove dust and dirt.
You only put them back in the heat pump when they are completely dry.
Another pro tip: Silver programs a monthly reminder in his phone calendar to make sure he doesn’t miss a filter cleaning.
Silver suggested taking a photo of the filter before washing it to make reassembly easier. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
Silver warns homeowners not to perform maintenance on the heat pump unit outside the home.
He said that part of the unit needs professional attention because of the high voltage electricity involved.
Spray foam fix
On another front, Silver was using spray foam to tackle a new project on its air leak checklist.
The energy audit he conducted earlier this year found that all of his air leaks, when mentally added together, form an area the size of standard paper.
Silver holds up a piece of red paper that represents the total area of all of its leaks identified by the energy audit. Dog Daisy watches. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
“When you put all of the pinholes and problems I have all over my house in one hole, it shows how much air I’m leaking,” said Silver.
One of the biggest gaps in many homes is under the sink around the drain pipe.
“Probably 50 percent of our audience will see a hole punched in the wall under their sink – or in the sink in the plural – where the drain pipe goes,” said Silver.
“Almost always nothing is done about it, so this is a wide open hole.”
Silver applied spray foam around the pipe and let it dry for 24 hours before removing the excess. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
He uses his paper support to demonstrate.
“In my case, I have a hole the size of my fist. So compare that fist to this piece of paper. That’s about a tenth of my problem,” said Silver.
Silver said a can of spray foam costs about $ 20. It is important to choose the low expansion type, not the high expansion type.
“High expansion makes a really big mess very quickly. You want to avoid that. You want low expansion,” he said.
He also recommended having a container of acetone or nail polish remover on hand to melt the foam and clean the applicator if it jams during use.
Silver said it was important to choose low expansion spray foam. He recommends a container of acetone or nail polish remover to clean the applicator if it gets stuck. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
“You could just put a few drops up your nose and it will melt it all out and then it’s good for another use,” said Silver.
“You will probably only use a bit of this for my sink, a few splashes. So I want to be able to use that in the future.”
Silver’s pro tip on foam spray: spray it on the head with the can.
Silver said it was important to hold the can of spray foam upside down when pushing the button, as shown here. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
“That means all of the chemical is placed on the bottom and the propellant is on the top and the chemical is pushed out where we want it to be,” said Silver.
His other tip: don’t touch the spray foam for 24 hours after it’s applied to remove excess material, otherwise there is a risk of a lot of dirt.
Silver’s tip: Don’t touch the spray foam for 24 hours after it’s applied or you risk a big mess. (Danny Arsenault / CBC)
“When it’s dry, it’s very easy to use. When it’s wet, it makes a big mess and you can see those smears that will be on your wall forever,” said Silver.
“So if you want to avoid that, avoid the temptation to touch it. Let it sit for 24 hours and then come back and you can cancel it right away.”
In our next episode, Josh Silver will talk about programmable thermostats and better sealing of doors and windows.
Note: In addition to being a homeowner looking for savings, Josh Silver is also the learning manager for Holland College’s joinery upgrade program.