Stop leaks, insulate to save winter energy
Blocking air leaks and improving insulation can have a big impact on your personal comfort and your home energy use, too.
You can find air leaks just by looking in the right place, inside and out. The U. S. Department of Energy suggests:
Outside of your house
- Inspect all areas where two different building materials meet, including exterior corners, outdoor water faucets, where siding and chimneys meet and areas where the foundation and the bottom of the exterior brick or siding meet.
- Check exterior storm windows and doors, to make sure they are securely fastened.
- Inspect regular windows and doors -- if you can rattle them or see daylight, you have leaks.
Inside your home
Inspect these areas for cracks and gaps that could allow air leaks:
- Electric outlets
- Light switch plates
- Door and window frames
- Incoming utility access points for electric services, gas lines, cable/satellite and phone lines
- Incoming pipes and wires
- Foundation seals
- Weather-stripping around doors
- Fireplace dampers
- Attic hatches
- Wall/window air conditioners
- Dryer vents through walls
- Exhaust vents and fans
- Duct work -- leaky ducts can lose conditioned air before it even reaches the rooms you want to heat or cool. Over time, these big, often concealed channels and hoses can become separated, crushed, flattened or cracked. Uninsulated ducts also lose heat.
To take your inspection a little further and reveal leaks that are difficult to see, you can do a "smoke" test -- using an incense stick. Here's how:
- Shut all windows, exterior doors and fireplace flues.
- Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside, such as your clothes dryer, bathroom fans, or kitchen exhaust fans.
- Light an incense stick and pass it around the edges of common leak sites, like those noted earlier. Wherever the smoke wavers or is sucked out or blown into the room, there's a draft. You can also feel the draft with a damp hand. Drafts will feel cool to your hand.
Once you locate the leaks, plug them with caulking, weather-stripping and insulation.
More about insulation
If your home was built before 1980, chances are it isn't well insulated unless you've made substantial renovations.
How much do you need? Cuivre River rebate programs require an R-38 in ceilings, and an R-13 in walls.
What type do you need? If you've never purchased or installed insulation, the U. S. Department of Energy is an excellent resource. You can find a table comparing different types at www.doe.gov. Several types include:
- Blanket: the most common form, blanket insulation comes in batts and rolls made with mineral wool, plastic fibers and natural fibers.
- Foam board: rigid panels that can be used on exterior and interior walls, roofs and foundations.
- Loose-fill or blown-in: small particles of fiber, foam and other materials such as cellulose or fiberglass conform to any space and work well for retrofits and locations where it would be difficult to install other types of insulation.
- Sprayed foam: liquid foam insulation materials can be sprayed, injected or poured; foamed-in-place insulation can be blown into walls, on attics surfaces or under floors to insulate and reduce air leaks.
Caulking and insulation are the low-hanging fruit of energy efficiency improvements. A well-insulated home will be more comfortable in winter and summer, and will help keep conditioned air where it belongs.
Questions? Contact a Cuivre River Member Services representative at 800-392-3709, ext. 4399 to learn more about insulation that can meet your needs.
Source: Rural Missouri News Service.