As fall turns to winter or summer arrives, the outside air that brought you such enjoyment during more temperate months may start to wreak havoc with your living conditions. Older structures in particular lack the insulation required to maximize your air conditioning and heating systems. That will hurt energy costs. Drafty conditions can stymie your best attempts to heat and cool your home. If this problem has been plaguing you lately, there are ways to fight it. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Tip #1: Check for Existing Insulation
If your home was built prior to 1940, it may contain no insulation whatsoever. To check on yours, start with a trip to the attic. With any luck, you’ll find evidence of loose fill or batting between the ceiling joists. In addition, the presence of patched-over holes in your outer walls will indicate the entry points of insulation that previous owners had blown in after the home’s construction.
Tip #2: Identify the Problem Areas
In the vast majority of homes, outside air will enter through one or more specific locations. Chief among them are gaps around windows and doors. Areas less often suspected include electrical outlets, ductwork and recessed lighting fixtures. Chimneys are another major offender, particularly in homes with fireplaces that lack operational dampers. Finally, consider your attic or upstairs crawl space. Heat loss through the roof is extremely common and often overlooked.
Tip #3: Close the Cracks
If doors, windows and other avenues to the great outdoors are in need of adequate sealing, the addition of weatherstripping will either keep heat securely indoors or provide a barrier to ensure it stays outside where you want it. Depending on the time of year, this will go a long way toward solving your heating and cooling problems.
Tip #4: Change Your Window Treatments
Since most unwanted outside air will enter around the windows, it only makes sense to give them some extra protection. The installation of shades or blinds will often prove effective, but you’ll need to hang them as closely to the glass itself as possible. Drapes will also insulate best when backed with white plastic and hung from ceiling to floor.
Tip #5: Lay Down Barriers to Door and Window Drafts
This colorful solution can stop annoying drafts in their tracks. You can make them yourself by rolling up old newspapers and wrapping them in any fabric that matches your decor. Alternatively, you can stuff old socks with dried popcorn or roll up pieces of bubble wrap and force them into the cracks.
Tip #6: Add or Upgrade Insulation
When choosing insulation for your home, you’ll have four basic categories from which to choose. These are:
- Loose fill composed of mineral, glass or cellulose fibers.
- Cotton, wool or fiberglass batting.
- Rigid insulation consisting of glass fibers or plastic foams.
- Expanding sprays.
The most appropriate insulation for you will vary according to your home’s location and the areas in which you plan to install it. For example, rigid or batt insulations serve well when weatherproofing unfinished upper stories or putting your home through extensive restorations. A professional contractor will advise you of the optimal type to use in your particular circumstances.
The R-values of the various materials will let you know their effectiveness at resisting heat flow. The designation will range from a low of zero to a high of 40. Fiberglass insulation in general will carry the lowest number. From there, the rating will rise according to material, with foams affording the highest R-value while stone wool and cotton batts fall somewhere in the middle. The lower values work well in warmer climates, but in colder northern regions, the higher the rating, the better.
Tip #7: Hire a Contractor
Installing insulation is not for the faint of heart. While you may be able to handle the smaller jobs yourself, it’s best to leave the big ones to a licensed contractor. In addition to possessing the skills and know-how needed for insulating structures in your region, he can also obtain the necessary permits and take steps to ensure that your project adheres to local building codes. As the job progresses, he may also uncover additional issues and potentially dangerous conditions that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. In the long run, hiring a professional will serve as insurance that your insulating job gets done right.
For more tips on saving energy costs and to make sure that your heating and air conditioning is working as it should, contact Windy City Air at 702-932-7284 for assistance.