Looking for a way to save on your energy bill this winter? Your largest savings are going to occur from taking a look at where you’re losing heat, not how you’re using it. Your windows and attic spaces could be sucking your hard-earned dollars out into the neighborhood.
When you’re standing near a closed window, is there a breeze or a noticeable difference in temperature from the rest of your house? If so, you have a problem. Ideally if your windows are not well insulated, you should have them replaced, but if you don’t have the money for a full window replacement here are some remedies to get you through one more season.
Sealing and insulating
There are many inexpensive DIY products that will cut down on your drafts. They include caulking (ripping out the old and adding new); rubber weather sealing, which plugs the gaps in your window; and window insulation film, a plastic covering which shrink-wraps those windows and blocks out the drafts.
Want a DIY craft project? Create a draft snake by sewing a long tube and filling it with rice or dried beans. Place it along a window sill or door to block the draft. Keep in mind it doesn’t do anything for drafts caused by broken seals in the glass, the glass itself, or the frame.
Long before any of the modern conveniences, settlers used layers of heavy fabrics as curtains around their windows and doors to keep the drafts contained. You can do the same. While heavy fabrics may keep you from feeling a draft across the room, they don’t do you any benefits in letting the light in (which can help in warming your rooms). If you want the light, and some protection against drafts, choose cellular shades customized to your window dimensions.
Many electric companies do audits for free. If you’re trying to figure out how you can be more energy-efficient and save money on your heating bill, this is a great way to get expert advice. Most auditors can help your rank your repairs so that you can get the most return on your investment. Most energy audits will lead to your attic. It’s estimated that 46 million homes in the U.S. are under-insulated.
A properly insulated attic can save you 20 percent on your heating and cooling bill. If your home is older than five years old, it may no longer be well insulated. Insulation settles, wears out, and sometimes develops mold. Even newer homes should be checked.
Since warm air rises if your home is not properly insulated, the air you paid to heat is escaping through the top of your house. There are many kinds of insulation with varying degrees of effectiveness in blocking drafts and keeping heat from escaping.
The most effective is loose fill mineral wool. With 8-23 inches of this insulation, you can expect to reduce heat exchange by 50 percent. It’s also more expensive than most other options, including the popular foam board, which is the least effective in reducing heat flow between your home and the outside.
Seeing to your attic is essential, whether you do it yourself, hire an installer, or a combination of both. How will you prepare your home for the cold this winter? Tell us your experiences in the comments section.