Starting November 1st, National Grid raised their energy costs by 37% from last year. So, it’s time now more than ever to winterize your home. With this increase in energy costs, you certainly don’t want to touch that thermostat and jack up your energy bills.
The first in this series is 5 Places Your Home Is Leaking Warm Air and Money.
Depending on your home, air leaks can waste thousands of dollars on energy-robbing gaps and cracks. Isn’t it time you start saving money and enjoying a warmer cozier winter? A typical family spends half of their utility bills on heating and cooling their home.
According to Energy Star, there are many ways you can start protecting your home and family by conserving energy and increasing comfort in your own home.Generally, the most cost effective way to reduce airflow and increase the efficiency of a home is to air seal and insulate. Air sealing creates barriers to airflow by covering cracks and openings in the building cavity. Adding insulation on top of air sealing will slow heat flow and increase occupant comfort, as well as helping your home retain the air you have already paid to heat.
Let’s go from the attic to the basement and start zapping those air leaks this week.Then tackle the basement to prevent cold air that enters there from being sucked into upstairs rooms. Finally, seal air leaks in the rest of the house. Here are eight places to start.
- Weatherstrip The Attic Access Door: The attic is one of the biggest areas for energy drains so make sure you cut off any excessive air leaks.
- A 1/4-inch gap around pull-down attic stairs lets through the same amount of air as a bedroom’s heating duct. Apply self-adhesive weatherstripping foam around the perimeter of the hatch opening. Please make sure you take these precautions when working in the attic:
- Wear protective gear such as disposable gloves and a double-elastic respirator.
- One warning: If you find vermiculite (looks like old newspaper) insulation, hold off until you’ve had it checked for asbestos and/or contact your local building department.
- Insulate Around Recessed Lights: Recessed lights have vents that open up into the attic which is a direct route for heated/cooled air to escape. They are one of the leading causes of household air leaks. This is an easy fix. Here is what you need to do:
- Remove the bulb and next to the bulb check to see if it is labeled IC-AT (Insulation Contact Air Tight)
- If it is not, you can assume yours leaks.
- Purchase new airtight baffles for around $20 each.
- Remove the bulbs, push the new airtight baffles up into the housing, and then replace the bulb.
- Caulk Skinny Gaps: Caulk makes the best gap-filler for openings less than 1/4-inch wide. Check around your house and caulk up all around your electrical boxes. Silicone caulk works best next nonporous materials, such as metal flashing, or where there are temperature extremes. Although, acrylic latex caulk is less messy to work with and cleans up with water. Also Insulate Electrical Boxessince your outlets can actually leak heat from your home take the time to take on this simple project. It’s going to make a biggest difference on the exterior walls of your home. They even have a product out there called Socket Sealers which includes all you need. Think about this…$5 Savings/per month = $60/Savings per year. For some people, that’s almost one month free!
- Unscrew the plate and put a piece of insulation over the outlets
- Screw the plate back on and add those baby plugprotectors.
- Plug Gaps in the Basement: In most older homes, air seeps in when the house sits on a foundation. Those gaps that are above the outside soil level let air in so is important to seal those with caulk for gaps up to ¼” wide around and spray foam for wider ones. Please make sure you use a high-temperature caulk around vent pipes that get hot and shoot foam around wider holes for pipes that pass through basement walls to the outside.
- Tighten Up Around Windows and Doors: By far the most significant drafts tend to occur around windows and doors. If you want to install any weatherstripping do not use the self-stick plastic types as they don’t last very long. Try installing an adhesive-backed EPDM rubber version with a pulley seal tool to try to block any air you see escaping through the frame. Read the instructions for correct temperatures to do this project as you don’t want to apply it when it’s frigid outside.
- Do they have any seal failures (fogged glass)? This is a sure sign that the gasket has failed and your money is literally going out the window. There is nothing separating you from the outside here. You may as well have the window open!
- Do you have windows with single pane glass? Double pane windows provide by far a greater amount of insulation from the outside as they contain two panes of glass with a sealed barrier of air between them thus keeping cold air out and warm air in. Therefore they are much more efficient in terms of energy saving.
- If you have old inefficient storm aluminum windows, especially30 years old or more, new replacement windows will save you money in the long run.