Right now we are still enjoying the sunshine, but the cooler temperatures have started to set in and winter is not far away. While it’s still comfortable outside, it’s a great time to winterize your home, especially since the cost of Energy for residential heating bills is once again forecast to take a huge hike. Why not winterize your home and save yourself a lot of money.
Besides, winterizing your home is much simpler than most people think.
Here are some simple things you can do that will save you money and aggravation:
First Check your home for air leaks.
You can be wasting 10 to 15 percent of your home’s heating costs if your home is improperly sealed.
a. So start off by doing a visual inspection around the exterior of your home especially around your windows and doors for cracks or rotten wood.
b. Check around the interior of your doors and windows for drafts. Don’t forget to check your basement and attic windows as well. These draft spots are easy to find by using a lit incense stick or candle that gives off some smoke, and putting it up to the most common drafty spots on a day when there is a bit of a breeze. Spots like around windows and door frames, electrical outlets, recessed lighting, really any spot that penetrates an exterior wall or ceiling. If you see the smoke being blown away from the exterior wall, you’ve discovered a leak that needs to be attended to.
c. Check the weather stripping and vinyl gaskets around your doors especially the door shoes and thresholds for their condition as the bottom of the door is the most frequent culprit. This weather stripping may have become brittle or worn out over time and need to be replaced with new ones with supple new material that will seal to the door well. Be aware a ½” crack under your door is like having a 4” diameter hole in your wall.
So to prevent good money from going to waste, here are some solutions.
a. First, begin by re-caulking your windows and doors on the outside. Caulking is good for weather proofing, but it also stops drafts. Don’t forget to also check for areas where weather stripping is not appropriate and be sure to caulk properly there. The trims surrounding your windows and doors on the interior can also be caulked to prevent drafts.
TIP: Don’t use silicone caulking anywhere you will be painting. Paint does not adhere well to silicone and will just bead up. There are many good 20 and 30 year warrantied latex caulks on the market today and even ones that are clear for places you don’t want to see the caulk.
Caulking also works well for sealing gaps around vents, outlets, cables and pipes that go through your exterior walls. For gaps of more than a quarter-inch, expanding foam might work better than caulk. Again don’t forget about your basement. It doesn’t create a direct draft on you but holes and cracks in the basement will affect you heating bill just as much as the ones on the main floor of your house.
b. Replace any broken or cracked glass. This can make a big difference even though a crack can seem insignificant.
c. There are different kinds of gaskets you can buy for use behind the cover plates of electrical outlets that will seal them and stop drafts. For old windows there are different types of weather stripping that you can put around the sashes that will still allow the window to operate yet will reduce the amount of draft.
d. Replace the rubbers in your weather stripping, sills and sweeps around your doors or replace them completely (preferred).
Tip: When installing weather stripping around a door you want it to contact the door but if you make it to tight it will not allow the door to operate properly. So put the weather stripping against the door and only tighten it a little, then fasten it to the jamb. This will insure a smooth operating door and a weather tight fit.
Older windows and doors require maintenance — scraping, painting and caulking. Newer windows and doors feature low maintenance cladding, a protective exterior covering that requires minimal maintenance. They also have much superior weather stripping that eliminates drafts and thermal pane glass and other additives like argon gas and low e that are much superior in insulating R value as well. Sometimes the return on investment is only 4-5 years and the best alternative is to replace your windows or doors completely.
Part 2 checking your insulation.