It is that time of year again! The cold is here and is fighting its way into your homes. I have a few easy tips to combat the winter air and save you money on energy.
The easiest way to keep out the cold is to seal your windows and exterior doors. Check your windows for drafts around the operating sashes and where the glass meets the wood frame. Also put the back of your hand on the glass to gauge the temperature of the glass. If the glass is the same temperature as the outside then you may want to consider getting window shrink kits.
Shrink Window insulation kits come with sheets of thin clear plastic and double sided tape. The idea is to cut the plastic to fit over your entire window and adhere it to the frame of the window using the tape. Then you take a basic hair dryer and heat up the plastic so it shrinks and tightens. This makes it less visible and more energy efficient. Creating an extra barrier will make a world of difference on drafty windows.
If you just have air sneaking through the operating sashes of the windows and around your exterior doors then basic foam or rubber weather stripping could solve your problems. Adding weather stripping around your windows and door will give them a tight seal and prevent the cold winter from penetrating you home.
Another very common place for the cold air to creep into your home is underneath your exterior doors. The original seal on the bottom of exterior doors often fails. You can either replace them with a door sweep or a more temporary product like double draft stop. A sweep is usually screwed or taped onto the bottom of the door and slides against the floor as the door shuts to create a seal.
The double draft stop is cut to size and very easily slides under the door creating a barrier on the inside and outside of the door.
Be sure to check your outlets and switches too. Outside air can be drafting through uninsulated switch plate and outlet covers. This is also a very easy fix. You can get foam insulating pads that fit right behind your switch plate and outlet covers which block the out the cold air and keep in the warm.
Oh, don’t forget a programmable thermostat! You can program the temperature based on when you are home so you’re not heating an empty home. If anyone else has anymore tips please share them here.-Gregg
Now that the winter chill is REALLY upon us, I noticed a problem around my fireplace.
My fireplace is nestled into a stone wall, and apparently over-time gaps have developed and now there is a constant flow of air from the fireplace.
I'm looking for an insulation solution to stop/slow this airflow.
I've seen "GREAT STUFF 16 oz. Big Gap Filler Insulating Foam Sealant" being sold at HomeDepot, but I'm curious if this would be a good solution to be used between the fireplace and the stone wall. The reviews are mixed and I want to know the possible solutions I have at my disposal.
I just went to the store and ended up buying some silicone caulk which was in the fireplace section of the store.
I'm still curious about the foam, but I was told the foam isn't purposed for my needs. Which makes sense.
The insulating foam sprays are not a ‘finishing’ product. They work great in areas that are not visible and can adhere to almost anything. Spray foams also tend to be a little messy and they offer very little control of expansion after it is sprayed into a gap. In your situation a caulk would work much better. Using a caulk that is rated for intense heat will fill the gap and give your fireplace a clean finished look. I hope you stop that winter air! Let me know how it turned out. Gregg
Another summer has come and gone. Now is the time to prepare for old man winter. Eliminating drafts and cold spots will make your home more comfortable and save you money.
Gotogregg listed a number of solutions for sealing up your home. Let’s talk about how to find those nasty drafts in the first place… We do this by conducting a “heat loss audit”. One really good method involves using an incense stick to create a small smoke stream and go through your home checking for air leaks. You will want to pick a fairly windy day so even small leaks will be obvious.
Hold the incense near the following locations and look for smoke swirls: Entry door and trim edges, window and trim edges, outlet and switch plates, attic access panels, fireplace dampers and finally baseboards. Make a list of all the places where the winter cold can sneak in. If you have a heated garage, the doors and windows there also need to be looked at.
Next, check the basement. Look for openings in the foundation above grade, as well as where pipes pass through. These are prime locations for air leaks.
Home Depot also offers Project Guides for window and door weather proofing tips:
On the outside of your home, check the caulking around trim. If worn just scrape off the old and re-caulk. Also, put a cover on any window air conditioners. Just remember to tackle the big leaks first and work your way down to the small ones. This winter you will be warm and cozy!
Thanks for all the tips -- I am planning to insulate our windows this weekend, as our bedroom seems especially drafty. Is there a particular brand of that plastic sheeting stuff that's better than the others? Or that should be avoided?
Also, I've noticed that some of our vents are blowing harder (more hot air is coming out) than others -- some are getting warm but not really blowing at all. Is this sometihng that would be remedied by having our ducts cleaned? The furnace is on the older side but it seems to be functioning properly, so I don't think that's the issue. (This is our first fall/winter in the house so it's all new to me...)
Hello that_girl and welcome back to the community.
I would first check near the furnace, there might be some dampers that could be partially closed. Have someone in the another part of the house be your eyes as you open & close the dampers to determine airflow, be careful to turn the damper lever slowly--if they haven't been turned in sometime the lever may break off, or not turn at all. When you determine which damper goes to which room, then label it with a marker for future reference.
As you have mentioned, cleaning out the duct work would be the next step if adjusting the dampers doesn't help remedy the problem.
Sorry for the wording, I meant are there any brands of insulation kit that should be avoided -- like because they don't work as well. But I am definitely planning to do the insulation. :)
As for the dampers... I will have to check, I know that the damper to the upstairs is open most of the way. I don't know if there are any others. It seems like the ducts should all be about equally dirty but for whatever reason we are only getting good airflow out of a few. So I'll look around the furnace for any I missed.
From my personal experience of living in a very old house for decades, every brand of shrink film window kit I’ve tried worked just fine. I have 2 windows that badly need replacing, and I seal those up for the winter from the outside. The other 2 drafty ones I seal with shrink film from the inside and it makes a huge difference in room temperature. Now is the time to take care of your windows.
The vents may best be looked at once it gets cold. Since this is your first fall season in this home, you will need to find out how the heating system balances even temperatures throughout the house. It may be that the dampers on the ductwork and floor vents are set well. Sealing up windows and doors may actually change the best flow settings, but you won’t know that until a cold snap hits.
Usually the vents farthest from the furnace will be kept wide open, (unless you rarely use these rooms). Changing the settings for all other vents and the damper leading upstairs is how you can even out the heat in the house. Just keep in mind that heat rises. The upstairs will be warmed by the downstairs in addition to the vents that exhaust there. The vents closest to the furnace will allow more heat to escape than the vents further away.
As far as dirt is concerned, I would make sure that the furnace air filter is clean, and changed at least every 3 months.
I hope that is useful and wish you the best. Congrats on your new home. Please let us know if you have any further questions about this or any other projects you may be working on.
We are here to help, Newf.