Last time we talked about insulating your attic in order to save money this winter. There are other things that also need to be checked and may need to be insulated if you really want to do a complete job. Heating costs account for more than 50 per cent of the energy used in your home. Unless your home is built as an R-2000 home (in which case you are probably not reading this article), adding insulation will improve the comfort of your home and give you more value for your energy dollar.
Another place you should check your insulation is in your basement.
Heat moves from hot to cold, and your basement walls are always cold because the earth is cold. The basement also conducts heat from the main floor of your home, leaving that floor colder and raising energy costs. For a climate where you are required to heat in the winter insulating this area can reduce winter heating bills by 10-20%. This can add up to a significant real savings each winter, depending on heating costs and your climate.
If your basement has no insulation at all the saving could even be higher. So here is what to do.
1. Frame a 2×4 wall around the perimeter of your basement. It is non structural so it only needs a single top and bottom plate. It can be framed on 24” centers but I still prefer using 16” centers.
Note: This is a perfect time to add any new outlets you need around the basement even if you are not planning to finish the basement at the present time.
2. Insulate with R 12 or better insulation meant for 2×4’s leaving the insulation approx. 6” up from the floor. This is for air circulation to prevent the 2×4’s from rotting.
3. Install a vapor barrier to the complete wall leaving it up a couple of inches from the floor for the same reason as mentioned in point two.
4. This step is not mandatory but now is a perfect time to install some drywall and finish it off for a rec. room or play room for the kids. Adding the drywall will add to the tightness of the wall thus helping stop some drafts as well.
5. Once the walls are complete or if they are already, don’t forget to insulate the rim joist. This is the area directly above the foundation wall around the perimeter of your home. Your joist are usually made with 2×8’s or 2×10” though in modern houses they may be made from manufactured I joist. But if your home is that new they are probably already insulated. You will need to cut pieces of insulation to fit between all of the joist and along the joist at the ends. This is an extremely important area to insulate and the saving can be significant even to do just this.
Insulate your water system.
Heat also escapes from bare hot-water pipes, meaning water sitting in pipes cools down between uses. Then you have to run extra water to get hot water out of a faucet. Wrapping these pipes will reap big dividends.
1. You can buy inexpensive foam tubes that fit right over your water pipes that make this job easy. Insulating your pipes will also stop condensation from forming on the cold pipes and then dripping on the floor.
2. Don’t forget to insulate any exterior spigots and other pipes that are subject to freezing but can’t be drained or shut off. If necessary, you might want to consider relocating (if possible) some of these pipes to a heated area of your home.
3. Insulate your hot water heater as well. Many hot water heaters are located in unheated areas and lose a tremendous amount of heat. You can buy ready-made insulation blankets for your hot water heaters at many hardware and lumber supply stores or wrap a thick layer of fiberglass insulation around the water-heater tank.
Too little insulation is the most significant cause of heat loss. Do your checks now and upgrade where needed and start saving money and our environment.