Are you dreading this winter because of high heating costs? Have no fear! Here are some quick and cheap tips to help you cut your heating costs by up to 20%.
Step 1: Insulate your home! (see last week’s post Your Home is a Shell). Estimated DIY cost: $12.50 for 25 ft. of fiberglass insulation (R-30) or $10.76 for 40 sq. ft. of natural fiber blown-in insulation (Home Depot is even offering a free machine rental if you purchase a 20 lb. bag Green Fiber insulation!). Don’t know how much you need or where to start? Lowes has an easy to use calculator and DIY videos.
Step 2: Air seal like it’s going out of style! Remember what you learned in science class: hot moves to cold. This means that all the air you’re paying to heat will rapidly escape by any means necessary into the freezing winter air outside. Trap that warm air by sealing penetrations in the home’s shell. That includes doors, windows, pipes leading into the house and places where different building materials meet (ex. where the cement basement and the exterior walls meet). To seal gaps around windows and doors, use Great Stuff expanding foam in a can (I cannot stress enough--use the kind specifically made for windows and doors!) or install weatherstripping (ideal for getting a tight seal between the door and the door frame). Use caulk for applications directly on glass. For various cracks and gaps that need filling around the house, use Great Stuff specifically designed for gaps and cracks. Estimated DIY cost: $5.40 for one can of Great Stuff (window & door), $3.49 for one can of Great Stuff (gap & crack), $4.99 for a tube of caulk, $2.26 for a caulk gun and weatherstripping kits start at $1.87.
Step 3: Insulate those windows! The manufacturers of window insulation kits say that installing window film can increase the insulation value of a single-pane glass window by 90%. That’s not too shabby! For windows you never use, like those old basement windows, seal them with foam board (aka. insulated sheathing) by cutting it to the appropriate size, securing the board over the window and sealing it with the leftover caulk from Step 2. Estimated DIY cost: a kit for three window films cost less than $6.00 and prices start at $9.23 for foam board.
Step 4: Seal up that chimney and attic! Similar to that never used basement window, seal up the fireplace chimney and attic hatch. First of all, if you aren’t using your fireplace, close your damper. Then cut and secure a piece of foam board to the outside of the fireplace opening. Feel free to decorate it so that it isn’t an eyesore in your living space. Do not insert the foam board into the chimney because someone may forget that it’s there, thus causing a disaster. If you just have a wooden attic hatch door, attach foam board to the back of it. Estimated DIY cost: prices start at $9.23 for foam board.
For step-by-step instructions on how to insulate and air seal, check out this do-it-yourself guide. All of the supplies can be found at most home repair stores (price estimates were found surfing the Home Depot and Lowes web pages). Don’t be intimidated. You can do this!