GruntWorks Guide to Home Weatherization Tips.
How to Keep the Cold Air Out and the Money in Your Wallet.
The rain and cold is coming to the Pacific Northwest! This winter, when the weather outside is frightful, here’s two things that could light up your season: a warm, cozy house and some extra money in your wallet. Here’s our top list of areas around the home that you should look at to improve your energy efficiency and reduce heat loss.
Weatherstripping – If you can easily slide a sheet of paper between an exterior door and its frame, it may need weatherstripping. This includes access doors to your basement and attic.
Windows – Windows can be weatherized with a few simple steps! First and foremost, replace broken glass and re-putty loose panes. You will want to inspect older windows and if necessary, install new sash locks, or adjust existing ones on double-hung and slider windows. Carefully caulk on the inside around the window and door trim, sealing where the frame meets the wall and all other window woodwork joints. For windows that will be opened, use weatherstripping or temporary flexible rope caulk. For easy year-to-year weatherization, you may want to consider purchasing insulating window inserts. Insulating window inserts are custom fitted to your windows and can be easily installed and removed for the season changes.
Exterior – Weatherizing around the exterior of your home is especially important. Be sure to caulk around all areas where electrical, telephone, cable, gas, dryer vents, and water lines enter the house. You can first fill the larger areas with fiberglass insulation.Caulk around all sides of window and door frames to keep out the rain and reduce drafts.
A common culprit for drafts is your dryer exhaust vent hood. If the flapper does not close properly or is missing, replace it with a tight-fitting model.
Chimneys – Cold air infiltration is common with chimneys. If you haven’t had your chimney inspected this year, make sure your chimney service professional inspects and seals any areas which can be potential air leaks, such as the chimney flashing. Also, when your fireplace is not in use, remember to close the flue!
Lower Heating Bills with Insulation.
One of the best ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home and lower your heating bills is through effective insulation. The good news is, you can have both by investing in insulation and home weatherization.
Adding or upgrading insulation, as well as easy home weatherization, can save you anywhere between 15% to 50% on heating and cooling costs.*
When you understand heat flow, you will quickly see the importance of insulation. Heated air naturally flows from warmer to cooler spaces. In the winter, warm air inside your cozy living spaces will try to move toward cooler areas such as attics, basements and garages. Insulation works by limiting this air movement to resist the natural flow of heat.
There are several different types of insulation. These include:
- blanket (in the form of batts or rolls),
- blown-in loose fill
- spray foam
- radiant barriers.
An excellent resource for detailed descriptions of types of insulation is the U.S. Department of Energy website. Here you can also find a handy tool to check which insulation is best for your climate.
Many home energy experts state that the average non-weatherized house leaks air at a rate equivalent to a four-foot-square hole in the wall.
Start at the Top: The Attic
When considering insulation, the attic is a great place to start, because adding insulation there is quick, easy, and cost-effective. Most attics are insulated with loose-fill or batt. Within these options, homeowner must also choose between fiberglass or cellulose. Costs vary, but in general, loose-fill provides better coverage and efficiency when properly installed.
In unfinished attics, you can simply install layers to the attic floor. Or, if you’re thinking about finishing the attic, you can put the insulation against the roof. Insulating the roof is the better method if heating and cooling ducts pass through the space, or if you live in a humid climate and want to cut down on musty smells coming from the attic.
When insulating an attic, you want to be sure to also seal all areas where air may be leaking into the home. Failure to weatherize areas such as ducting to the outside, chimney perimeters, tops of interior walls, and the hatch or other access to your attic will continue to cost your in energy and money regardless of how much insulation you install.
Do-It-Yourself or Call in the Experts
Whether you choose to try a few DIY weatherization projects or you call GruntWorks to schedule a complete weatherization service; it is important to consider the value of making weatherization improvements. If you’re still not sure where to start, consider a home energy audit. You can also contact your GruntWorks Personal Home Assistant with any questions you have about home weatherization. You can reach us at 503-974-8554 or request a service estimate through our website.
Stay warm and enjoy the season!
*This savings figure varies based on climate, your heating system type and the insulation methods you choose.