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A home damaged by Hurricane Laura near Holmwood in southwest Louisiana.
—Bruce Schultz photo

Restore for more than before with energy-saving repairs

If your home is damaged by a hurricane this season, the tremendous work, expense and stress can mean a daunting and difficult ordeal ahead. But it is possible to extract a silver lining from this disaster. If you restore for more than before, you can return to a better home.
Take control of your future by making your home more resilient for the next hurricane and more comfortable while saving money on utility bills with energy-saving home improvements. It’s a great investment to upgrade when restoring, even if your insurance won’t cover the incremental cost.
—Restore gutted walls, ceilings and floors with higher-R value insulation installed with no gaps, voids or compression. If rebuilding, consider adding exterior continuous insulation panels.
—Air seal the entire enclosure of your living space, especially at the ceiling, to stop air leaks. Uncontrolled air leaks can cause discomfort, higher energy costs and moisture problems, and sometimes draw in pollutants from attics or crawl spaces.
—If you have central air conditioning and/or heat, have your ductwork leak-tested and sealed as airtight as possible. Or locate all the ductwork and equipment within the conditioned space. A properly executed, unvented (sealed) attic with spray foam insulation at the roofline is one way to do that. And it offers the fringe benefits of no risk of wind-driven rain during a storm and tends to result in less home air leakage.
—Replace any damaged or worn out cooling and heating systems, windows, doors, appliances, electronics and lighting with Energy Star-labeled models. Compare the yellow Energy Guide labels on appliances before buying.
—Include sun control strategies to cut summer heat gain, such as shade landscaping, new windows with an SHGC rating of 0.25 or lower, solar film or screens on older windows, awnings and light exterior colors. Consider installing a radiant barrier under the rafters of a vented attic with the shiny side down, or replace damaged roof decking with foil-faced decking.
See the www.LSUAgCenter.com/LaHouse publications link to find “Improve Your Home and Prosper” for more energy saving home improvement information and “Building Your High Performance Home: Gulf Region Homeowners Guide” if you are rebuilding. Both are tailored to our climate. Also see www.energystar.gov and basc.pnnl.gov for more guidance, especially to create an energy-efficient home without causing moisture or health problems.
Learn about resilient, high-performance home construction and restoration by exploring the LSU AgCenter LaHouse Resource Center demonstration home on the LSU campus in Baton Rouge. It is an educational showcase of solutions for the Southern climate and natural hazards. It is temporarily closed due to the pandemic, but you can see tour videos, building system videos and home improvement videos on its website and YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/myLaHouse).

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