For the sake of your cold tootsies and the rising cost of your electrical bill, it’s time to wage war … a war against plummeting temperatures. It’s time to stop freezing air from coming around your windows, down your chimney, through your crawlspace, and past your insulation. It’s time to reign supreme over your warm fortress and blockade cold air once and for all. Are you with me?
According to Energy Star, you can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs by sealing and insulating your home properly. Lucky for you, the battle to weatherproof your home is easily won—just shield these five essential locations.
1. Windows. Apart from replacing drafty windows, you can insulate them. Purchase a window insulation kit—like this one from ACE Hardware ($11.99)—at your local hardware store. To see how it’s done, visit About.com to watch a helpful video.
2. Wood-Burning Fireplace. Your chimney pulls air up and out of your home by creating a draft, which is fine and good when you actually have a fire burning. But when you don’t, your chimney may still be pulling warm air out of your home. If you use your fireplace but once every three years, consider sealing it off permanently and insulating the chimney. But if you enjoy the crackle and warmth of a fire a few times each winter, check your damper—the door or window inside the fireplace that let’s smoke out—at the beginning of each season. Oftentimes, these get damaged or rusty and need to be replaced.
You can also install glass doors for better sealing and a nice aesthetic look. (Check out the wide selection available at Woodland Direct.) For the best insulation possible, however, invest in a fireplace heater, which comes equipped with a blower and thermostat. These units draw air in, circulate it through a heating chamber, and blow it back out into your room. Plus, they’re completely sealed to prevent warm air from escaping through the chimney.
3. Attic Stairs. Although your attic may be well insulated, I’m willing to bet the hole created by your attic stairs is not. If you’re pretty handy, try creating a cover for this opening yourself. Danny Lipford’s site, Expert Advice on Home Improvement, walks you through the process. Not a do-it-yourselfer? Buy a pre-made insulator—like the Attic Tent or the Draft Cap.
4. Clothes-Dryer Vent. The typical sheet-metal flap on your dryer vent just won’t cut it. It not only leaks warm, moist air out, but it also sucks cold air in. Install an energy-saving model—like this one from Battic Door—to tackle this draft.
5. Crawlspace. Warm up cold floors by adding insulation to your crawlspace. But before starting, get a cost estimate and rate of return on your investment by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy’s Insulation Fact Sheet. If adding insulation to your crawlspace seems like a good venture, you have two decisions: do it yourself or hire a contractor. If you know your way around a tool belt, the Department of Energy can walk you through adding insulation here.
For a more in-depth plan of attack, follow Energy Star’s do-it-yourself guide to reducing cold-weather drafts. And be sure to give me an update on your progress.
Godspeed and good luck!
The Home Know-It-All