Here are some ways that you can build resilience in your home.
Enhance the Envelope
Improving and maintaining your home’s envelope will help better control and manage environmental extremes to reduce damage and occupant risks. Air sealing and insulating (together, “weatherizing”) can help under conditions of extreme heat and cold, or during extended power outages. Maintaining and improving roofing, siding, windows, and doors can help avoid wind damage, water damage, ice dams, frozen pipes, leaks, chronic indoor humidity, and more.
- Seal gaps and joints where air leaks in or out
- Maintain/replace the roof
- Maintain/replace siding
- Maintain/replace windows and doors
Replacing roofing or siding often presents additional opportunities to add insulation.
If your home’s location is particularly vulnerable to high winds, consult with your contractor about specially designed windows, doors, and roofing materials; in the case of new construction or additions, wind-specific construction techniques may be required by code.
Power outages can result from severe weather or other problems with the electric grid. You can install battery back-up power that is dedicated to critical equipment, such as a sump pump and heating system, or a broader range of appliances, such as your refrigerator or stove. Battery back-up systems are available with controls that allow you to power on or off individual circuits as needed during an outage. When you also have your own solar PV system, the battery back-up becomes even more flexible. Consult with your heating system installer to understand how much reserve power your heating system might need to keep your home habitable during an emergency, and an electrician to explore battery back-up options.
Bulk water management
Whether or not you live in a flood-prone zone, employing bulk water management strategies can keep your home dry. Getting water away from your foundation protects against unexpected stormwater and coastal flooding damage, as well as damage over time due to leaks and indoor humidity. Managing groundwater Infiltration and removal systems also protects your basement and the valuable equipment that may be located there.
- Install gutters
- Drain downspouts and sump pumps to ground sloped away from the house
- Install an alarm, notification system, and/or backup measures for your sump pump
- Install a sewer backflow preventer
- Protect vents and window wells that could allow water into the basement
Equipment placement and selection
Keeping critical appliances and equipment out of flood risk can have significant resilience benefits. Elevating equipment off the basement floor by placing on stands, mounting on the wall, or placing on a different floor are good options for reducing the risk from water in the basement.
When designing a new heating and cooling system based on heat pumps, you may have an option about how many outdoor units (for air-source heat pumps) or how many central heat pump units (for ground-source heat pumps) to use. All other factors being equal, using more such units reduces the risk that all parts of your home lose heating or cooling at the same time in the unlikely event of an equipment malfunction.
Monitoring equipment is affordable and convenient. With the help of text and email notifications, you can easily identify risks in your home before they become costly, damaging, or a danger to your health. Smart water meters identify unusually high flow and can alert you to leaks. Sump pump monitors can detect problems that help you avoid a flooded basement. Many thermostats come with apps that connect to your phone, so you can check room temperature while you’re away. Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors and air quality monitors can identify health risks and even let you know if your heating system stopped working while you’re away. Many of these systems run on batteries or have battery backup to maintain function during a power outage.
- Install a smart water meter
- Install a sump pump monitor
- Install an app-enabled thermostat that is compatible with your heating system
- If you still have any appliances or systems that burn fossil fuels, add a CO detector
We’re In This Together
Pledge to reduce your home’s carbon footprint by replacing old systems and appliances with clean energy technologies over time.