Wondering how to save energy this winter? Look around the house: There are likely many areas where your home is losing heat and experiencing drafts. Even if you've insulated in the past, now's the time to improve and upgrade. Here are six ways to improve your home insulation and start saving today.
Re-evaluate your attic insulation
Many American homes don't have enough insulation in their attics. If you can see your ceiling joints, you need to add more. Buy unfaced insulation, which won't trap moisture, and lay it on top of the existing insulation on your attic floor. Adding an extra layer will help you save money this winter.
Weatherproof your windows
Windows can be the largest single source of energy loss in your home. Drafts can even sneak in past energy-efficient windows if there are small cracks around the perimeter. Seal around windows if there are small cracks around the perimeter. Seal around windows with a clear paintable caulk for an instant upgrade to your home insulation. Give the areas you plan to caulk a good cleaning beforehand. Then begin caulking, using your finger to smooth the area and improve the overall appearance.
Seal vents and plumbing
Dryer vents, exterior plumbing and faucets are notorious for letting in drafts. Seal around their entry points with insulating foam sealer. This product expands to fill big gaps, making it perfect for heavy-duty jobs. Simply add it and let it expand, then wipe away any excess with a putty knife for a neat finish.
Install a storm door
A storm door saves money by insulating your exterior entrance. It also improves curb appeal, increases security and extends the finish of your front door and fixtures. Models that convert to screen doors provide added energy efficiency because they can be used for ventilation during warmer months. Maintaining your existing storm door will help you make the most of energy savings year around.
Weather-strip around the front door
Whether you have an antique door or a new all-season model, you must check the weather stripping seasonally and repair or replace it as needed. Foam weather stripping with a peel-off adhesive backing is the easiest type to install. Also check the door threshold, which is the horizontal strip of wood on the floor that meets the door's bottom sweep. A gap between the two will let drafts get through. Install a new height-adjustable threshol, and raise it to meet the door sweep for a solid draft-free fit.
Prioritize water pipe insulation
Uninsulated hot water pipes are huge energy beasts, especially when they run through unheated areas of the house. Tuck them inside foam water pipe insulation so they don't lose heat. Foam pipe insulation is sold split along the side so you can easily pop a length of it around an installed pipe. Once in place, peel off its self-adhesive backing and secure it snugly.
DIY tip: Use aluminum foam tape insulation around joints or other awkward areas. And don't forget about your cold water pipes. Preventing winter pipe freezing is a smarter and less expensive option than calling a plumber to deal with the aftermath. You can use the same water pipe insulation products mentioned above.
Use the following basic to-do list to help prepare your home for the changing of the seasons.
Indoor maintenance and seasonal house cleaning:
-Get a programmable thermostat or double check the settings if you already have one.
-Check around windows and doors for air leaks.
-Stock up on gasoline for gas-powered generators, and test them to be sure they're in good working condition.
-Fall is a good time for indoor painting, because windows and doors can be left open for ventilation.
-Wash windows, sills and trim and launder curtains, drapes and valances. -Keep ceiling fans running to cool down in the summer and increase airflow and improve heating in the winter.
Outdoor maintenance and seasonal landscaping and backyard cleanup:
-Add downspout extensions so water runs at least three to four feet away from your home's foundation.
-When trimming landscape, be sure to clear area at least one foot away from exterior walls; rake debris out of corners and away from foundation; cut back tree limbs.
-Professionally drain your lawn-irrigation system.
-Fertilize and reseed your grass to prepare for winter.
-Clean your patio furniture prior to storage.
-Make sure snow shovels and snow blowers are in good working order.
Finally, before nestling in for the winter, winterize your home by following this checklist of simple steps:
-Add insulation to your attic, basement or crawl spaces and use insulating foam to plug cracks or openings that allow cold air in and heat to escape.
-Make sure the damper of your chimney is closed when the fireplace is not in use to block drafts and allow heat from escaping.
-If you receive snowfall, use a snow blower or an ergonomic snow shovel to reduce back strain and the amount of time you spend in the cold.
-De-ice your driveway with non-toxic snow removal products to keep your guests, family, pets and the environment safe.
-If you have a pool, cover it to protect children and pets and keep leaves, insects and leaves out.
-When harsh weather is on its way, keep your pets indoors or make sure they have warm, thick bedding, water and shelter to protect them from the wind.
-When the temperature drops below freezing, leave a faucet dripping to keep pipes from freezing.
-Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they're working properly.
-Prepare an emergency kit with candles, batteries and flashlights for use during a power outage.
Need some expert assistance? Visit your local Home Depot store to ask associates about products or how-to instructions. The Home Depot expert associates are also available to answer your questions online.