How Can I Improve My Home’s Insulation?
- Install insulation in the attic and elsewhere: If you think back to your high school science classes, you probably learned that warm air rises. Installing attic insulation will keep heated air inside your home when it reaches the roof. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a properly insulated attic can reduce your energy bills by as much as 50 percent — insulation is a wise home energy investment that can pay for itself quickly, especially for homeowners in the cold Central PA winter climate. Other areas that can benefit from insulation include basements, exterior walls, crawlspaces and room additions.
- Replace door and window screens: Screens are excellent for letting in the refreshing breezes during spring and summer — but they won’t do much to insulate your home and save energy during the colder months. Replace your screens with solid glass panes in late fall, just before the winter weather arrives.
- Consider a window upgrade: Older, single-pane windows can allow cold air to penetrate into your home and let the heated air escape. If upgrading to more energy-efficient double- or triple-pane windows doesn’t fit your budget, you can improve your existing windows’ insulating capacity by reglazing them or even covering them with plastic sheets. Also, it is important to understand that the quality of the window installation as well as the overall fit can be just as important as the type of window selected. Ensure that there is proper installation an insulation surrounding your home’s windows to keep the heat or cool air on the inside!
- Place weather-stripping around doors: Do you feel a draft coming through the bottom of your exterior doors? Foam weather-stripping offers an inexpensive insulation solution by creating a protective seal around your doors that will keep cold air out and warm air in.
- Hang curtains: Heavy curtains placed over windows can provide an extra layer of defense against cold air drafts — and add a bit of decorating style. Another option is installing cellular shades, which are window coverings designed to insulate windows and filter sunlight that can add warmth during the daytime hours.
- Get insulating ductwork: A duct system consists of a series of tubes in the walls, floors and ceilings that deliver heated or cooled air from your HVAC unit throughout your home. Sealing and insulating ductwork will prevent leaks that reduce your HVAC system’s efficiency and cause your energy bills to rise. Duct insulation is available as blankets that wrap around the ductwork and sleeves that slide onto it. You can seal the ducts by using mastic or tape to cut down on leaks. Since air follows the path of least resistance, it is also critical that you make sure no ducts are squeezed or damaged when looking through your home ducting. Any of these situations can cause you to have a high energy bill and an uncomfortable home!
Other Ways to Stay Warm During WinterYou can also implement some common sense methods that will increase your comfort during the winter without having to install, upgrade or spend a single dime:
- Close off unused rooms: If you have a larger home with multiple system air returns, there may be bedrooms or other areas you don’t use much during winter or the rest of the year. You can save energy by keeping the doors to these rooms shut and closing the heating vents or ducts. There’s no point in paying for heat that doesn’t directly impact your family’s comfort. Keep in mind that some newer homes only have a single central return location, and in this case blocking doors and closing off rooms may decrease its effectiveness.
- Use the fireplace: If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace in your home, be sure to put it to good use in winter. A fireplace can reduce your dependence on your home’s heating system, helping you save energy — and money. Like many other parts of your home, be sure to have your chimney inspected regularly for safety as well as be sure to install a low level CO monitor in your home. You can also enjoy the warm, cozy ambiance while relaxing by the fire.
- Wear warm clothing: Dig that old, ugly sweater or battered sweatshirt out of the closet and wear it while you’re at home. You might be able to lower the thermostat by a few degrees, which can have a significant effect on your energy bills. If you’re worried about making a fashion statement, you can always slip the garment off and stash it back in the closet when you have visitors!
- Reverse your ceiling fans: Ceiling fans aren’t just for cooling — you can also use them to keep your home warmer in winter. By adjusting the switch to the winter mode, it will reverse the direction of the blades and push the rising warm air back down into the room.
- Let the sunshine in: Rooms that face the sun during the daylight hours can benefit from its warming rays. Open the window curtains or blinds in these rooms in the morning and close them at sunset.
- Put on your apron and get cooking: Winter is an excellent time to break out those old baking recipes. While the kitchen may be too hot for preparing meals during the summer, you can use it to keep your home warm during the colder months. The warmth from the oven or stove will infiltrate the rest of the house — along with those tantalizing aromas — allowing you to turn down the thermostat a few degrees. You’ll also have plenty of delicious food to enjoy!
- Check the humidity level in your home: If your home has low humidity levels, you may not feel as comfortable. We register comfort relative to the moisture in the air, so having the correct level of humidity may keep you comfortable at a lower temperature. If you are having issues, getting a humidifier system added to your home may allow you to feel better with your inside air.