Weatherizing Your Home

Weatherizing your home: what a homeowner can do to make her home more energy efficient.

With the escalating cost of oil and gas, you may want to know what you can do to lower your utility bills. A good way to make sure that the expensive heat you are paying for stays in your house is to weatherize your home. To do this, take a tour of your home from the basement to the attic and look for places where heat can escape.

We will start our tour in the basement. If you have an unheated basement, insulate the floor above the basement. If your basement has a ceiling, fill the space between the ceiling and the floor above with loose fill insulation. Once the basement is adequately insulated, inspect the foundation or walls for any cracks and fill with caulk. Next, insulate the pipes in your basement. Use closed-cell elastomeric pipe insulation or a fiberglass wrap for hot water pipes. For steam pipes, use either a fiberglass wrap or molded fiberglass pipe insulation.

The next stop on our weatherization tour is to weather-strip the windows and doors. Weather stripping material comes in four kinds. Spring plastic comes in a peel-off strip. Spring bronze is durable and makes a smooth surface for doors and windows. Rope caulk is a putty-like material for windows only. Door sweeps are installed at the bottom edge of an exterior door. If you have casement windows, weather-strip all four sides of the sash. If you have double-hung windows, weather-strip the seven separate edges on the frame. Cover the sash cords with plastic covers or rope caulk. For any exterior doors, weather-strip around where the door closes against the frame and install a door sweep to the bottom.

Next, inspect the walls for any cracks and adequate insulation. If you find cracks, fill them with caulk. If you find inadequate insulation, hire a contractor to install insulation.

Another place where heat can escape, is through electrical outlets. At the hardware store, buy a foam insulation insert for your electrical outlets. To install, remove the faceplate of any electrical outlet on an exterior wall, place the foam insulation insert, and cover with the faceplate.

The last stop on our weatherization tour is the attic. If you have folding attic stairs, insulate and weather-strip the edge where the stairs fold in. If you have a sloping ceiling, insulate the space between the rafters. Keep one inch of air space between the insulation and the roof boards. Check that the kneewalls and floor have adequate insulation. If the insulation is inadequate, hire a contractor to install the installation you need to keep your home warm. Remember that most of the heat loss in your home occurs through leaks in the attic.

Now your weatherization tour is complete. Your home will be nice and warm and your utility bills will be lower. There are some other measures you can take to conserve energy throughout your home. If your thermostat has a timer, program the timer to a lower temperature when you typically aren't home and to a higher temperature when you are home. If your thermostat does not have a timer, consider installing one. You also might want to consider having your furnace serviced to make sure it is operating efficiently.

For more help and information on weatherizing your home, contact your utility company. They can provide a free energy audit to tell you have to conserve even more energy in your home.

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