Sealing In Savings on Home Energy Costs in the Winter
Although it is a good idea to save money year round on home heating and cooling costs, it often doesn't come up until the temperatures drop. People don't mind cranking up the A/C during the summer, but feeling cold drafts in the winter time is a rude wake-up call. There are plenty of low-cost things you should do to seal the air gaps and keep your energy costs down while keeping your home toasty through the fall and winter.
Seal The Crawl Space
One neglected area is the crawl space under the home. First, close off all those foundation vents. Most foundation vents have a handle so you can close the vents. If your vents happen to not have handles, purchase 1-inch thick rigid foam board. Cut the foam board slightly larger than the foundation vent opening. Push the foam board into the opening.
Once you close the foundation vents, it is time to crawl under the house. This is best done on a sunny day. Get inside the crawl space and look for sunlight peeking through the cracks and holes along the foundation. Seal small cracks with silicone caulk or larger cracks with spray foam insulation. The spray foam comes in a can with a hose.
Insulate the foundation walls up to the sill. The insulation helps reduce the cold air from the outside. This results in a slightly warmer crawl space, reducing the cool air coming through the floor. Consider adding batt insulation in between exposed floor joists in the crawl space as well.
Seal Window and Doors
Go around to all of your windows and doors, and seal cracks around the frames or glazing. Use silicone caulk around window frame and door frames especially where the frame meets vinyl siding. Look for areas of glazing on the outside of wooden window frames and temporarily seal them with silicone caulk. Just remember to reglaze those windows in the coming spring.
Purchase some pre-cut foam weatherstrip panels for wall outlets and switch plates. This is an area many people don't think about. Turn off the power before removing the outlet covers and switch plates. Place the foam sheet on the back of the plate and screw the plate back into position.
Check under window sills for small hairline cracks between the sill and wall. Seal them with silicone caulk. Lastly, don't forget to weatherstrip your door and window frames. Self-adhesive foam weatherstrip works great and is simple to apply.
Seal The Attic
Another area that is largely neglected is the attic. Most attics already have batt insulation in between the floor joists and ceiling rafters. However, you'll have find air space between pipes, and vents coming through the attic floor.
Seal around gaps between cold water lines and drain pipes at your attic floor with silicone caulk. For larger gaps, use pieces of insulation to fill in the holes. Areas where you have gaps between chimneys, hot water pipes or ventilation ducts should be filled with pieces of sheet metal or heat-resistant caulks.
Taking these few preventative measures will help you save on your heating dollars this winter, but also help you save on cooling costs next summer. It's a small investment of time and money and saves you even more money long term.
- Iowa Energy Center
Home Tightening, Insulation and Ventilation