Sealing and Insulating to Save Money
As the colder months creep in, homeowners’ thoughts are turning to methods of saving on heating bills this winter. Keeping the furnace lower and putting on an extra sweater and wool socks are a couple of solutions, but there are several other ways to stay warm and keep your money.
Stop the air leaks
There can be literally dozens of places in your home where cold air can come in, and precious warm air can escape. Windows, doors, dryer vents, and plumbing vent stacks are some examples. In areas readily accessible, you can normally feel a slight draft. Other sections of the house – such as the attic, basement or crawl space – take a little more hunting to find the spots to dam the air flow.
Weatherstripping is the easiest way to stop drafts, and is available in a wide variety of sizes and widths. The type of weatherstripping used for windows may be quite different from that used to seal the threshold of a door. Weather conditions will also be a factor when deciding which type of weatherstripping to use, such as a cold and rainy climate in the Pacific Northwest vs. a dryer climate in Arizona. Ensure that the temperature is above 20 degrees Fahrenheit when you are installing the product.
Layer it up with insulation
Insulation is the next key to a warm house over the winter months. Different regions of the country require higher R-values in the insulation you install. This rating also varies for specific parts of your house. For example, homes in Texas, Louisiana and Florida would only need R30 to R60 insulation in their attic, but homes in Montana and Idaho would require R49 to R60 insulation.
One litmus test is to see if your roof generates icicles on a snowy winter day. If so, your roof is emitting heat which is melting the snow on the roof. The runoff from that melt is freezing again. A key to success is to see if your attic is very cold. That means the heat is staying where it belongs – in your house.
The requirement is significantly lower in walls and floors, but important none-the-less. The recommended R-value will also change depending on the type of heating you have in your home. The style of insulation also comes into play to determine how much is required for installation. Every inch of fiberglass blanket insulation provides an R-value of approximately 3.27. Loose-fill insulation can vary from 2.2 to 4.0 per inch, depending on how it is installed. If polyurethane foam is sprayed in the area, the rating can go as high as 6.0 to 7.3.
Homes built two or three decades ago, or earlier, were not required to have minimum amounts of insulation. Because of this, it may be necessary to do an in-depth analysis to find out where heat is escaping in homes of that era. Conversely, new home construction may skimp on installing the best insulation to save costs, and get a higher profit on the sale.
Get your ducts in a row
People who have forced-air heating may be losing upwards of 20 percent of the air normally meant to move through the duct system. This is due to poorly sealed connections, resulting in leaks. It may be difficult – if not impossible – to repair these leaks if the ducts are located between walls or floors. If the ducts can be reached, it is a relatively easy job using duct sealant, or duct mastic as it is also known.