Much of the existing housing in Alaska was constructed before the 1990s and was not built for a northern climate, resulting in thousands of homes that are poorly insulated, leaky, and expensive to heat. The average housing unit in Alaska uses twice as much energy per year as the average house in cold climate regions of the Lower 48. Nearly 20,000 homes in the state are rated 1 Star, the lowest energy rating possible. Read more about the state of Alaska's housing in the 2014 Housing Assessment.
Making your home more energy efficient is one of the best investments you can make. The savings are instant and accumulate year after year. The paybacks can range from just a couple years for modest investments (such as caulking doors and windows and using a setback thermostat) to closer to 10 years for more in-depth retrofits, such as wrapping your house in exterior insulation or replacing your boiler. There are many steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your house. The best place to start is with a home energy rating, which includes a thorough inspection of the house to identify energy losses within the home, including the heating and distribution system, walls, foundation, and windows. This will establish the most cost-effective energy improvements and help you prioritize the retrofit measures.
When retrofitting your house, it's essential to consider moisture management and indoor air quality. As you tighten a building, you reduce its ability to breathe--or shed moisture--to the outside, which can affect the durabilty of the building and the health of occupants. CCHRC has done extensive research on retrofit techniques for various regions of Alaska that ensure both healthy indoor air quality and building durability. Read more about these techniques here:
CCHRC has a series of educational videos regarding energy retrofits in the right sidebar.
The state of Alaska offers several programs to assist with the costs of making energy improvements to your house: