Whether you own a home or are renting, chances are you're already aware of the expenses involved in keeping your home comfortably warm. Home weatherizing can save you between 10 and 50 percent on energy costs. For some, the idea of weatherizing seems overwhelming or expensive.
It's important to remember that you don't have to do all your weatherization projects all at once. Everything you are able to do will help keep you warmer and cut costs. Even if you just work on one room a year, eventually, you will have done a great, well-thought-out job. If you enjoy working on home projects and feel comfortable with your DIY skills, you can get the job done in a day or two depending on the size of your home.
Step 1: DIY energy eudit
The greatest energy loss in most homes is related to air seepage around doors, windows, ceilings, floors, and switch plates on exterior walls. There can be a number of other spots in your home where cold air seeps in and warm air slips out. There are two ways you can handle a home energy audit. One, look into what local state, town, and utility companies offer for free. Most communities offer free energy audits as well as other services such as reduced costs for professional sealing and insulation.
The second is to do it yourself. You will need to close all windows and doors and shut off any ventilation or fans you have. Go from room to room (and don't forget the attic if you have one), and test for air seepage. The easiest way to "see" the air movement is to carry a lighted stick of incense with you. Take notes and keep a list of all the spots where you see air movement. Dirty spots sometimes indicate air leakage. For example in many older homes, come spring, you will usually find a thick layer of dirt on the windowsill. Also, if your windows rattle, that's a clear indicator you don't have a tight seal.
Step 2: Seal up your windows and doors with weather stripping and plastic sheeting
Now that you have a list, the easiest place to start home weatherizing is sealing windows and doors. If you can afford to have storm windows or new doors installed by a reputable company, problem solved. Otherwise, you can purchase inexpensive clear plastic window sheeting to cover your windows for the winter. Kits are available at most hardware stores. You can also use weather stripping, which comes as foam stripping with adhesive backing to fill in any cracks. Weather stripping can also be used for around doors. You can also place rugs, towels, or craft items made for keeping draughts from coming in from beneath doorways.
Step 3: Use caulk or spray foam to seal cracks
Assuming that your DIY home energy audit helped you find cracks where warm air escapes, your next step is to fill those cracks. Caulk can be used on cracks less than 1/4" on windows, walls, ceilings etc. Silicone caulk is relatively easy to use and clean up, but it can't be painted. Acrylic latex caulk is also easy to use and clean up, but it can be painted. For larger cracks up to ½", you can use expanding foam (in a spray can) that creates a permanent airtight seal.
Step 4: Do the following
- Close flues on chimneys and woodstoves when not in use.
- Install rubber gaskets around switches and outlets that are on exterior walls.
- Insulate the ceiling of your basement to keep your floors warmer. The easiest way to do this is to put area rugs on your bare floors.
- Put up heavier cloth drapes or other window treatments, and close them at night to lessen air seepage.