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How to Winterize Your Home and Save on Fuel Costs

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How to Winterize Your Home and Save on Fuel Costs

With the impending approach of Old Man Winter, homeowners are looking for ways to effectively winterize their house against outside weather conditions and inside heat loss. This is especially true in regions that get hit hard. Winter in Alberta, Canada, for instance; where the local weather forecast calls for blustery cold days and long, sub-zero nights.

The guidelines below are for homeowners who want to know how to winterize a house. Not only to lower energy costs, but help maintain a more uniform indoor comfort zone.

According to research, the annual cost to heat the average home is about $1,400. Homeowners who properly winterize their home can save close to 50-percent of that amount.

Signs that your house might not be well insulated include:

  • Walls that are cold to the touch
  • Cold floors
  • Uneven temperatures throughout house
  • High heating costs

Home Insulation

The first item on your winterization checklist should be to inspect house insulation. And since warm air rises, the single most important area to check is the attic. The attic is one of the most cost-effective places to add insulation, and could save a considerable amount of money on heating costs.

The basic rule of thumb for how to insulate an attic — if you can see ceiling joists, you don't have enough insulation. In addition to amount of insulation, consider insulation r value. The higher the r value, the more effective the insulation material is; both against incoming cold and movement of heat.

Fiberglass insulation in rolls, batt insulation, or blown insulation is most commonly used in attics. When adding insulation, remember the following:

  • Blow in insulation is most effective, but messy to install; hiring an insulation contractor is your best bet. By contrast, fiberglass batts laid sideways over existing insulation is a fast, easy DIY home project alternative. Handyman tip: most older homes have somewhere between 3 to 6-inches of fiberglass blanket insulation; roughly equal to an r value of 9 to 19.
  • When adding insulation, make sure soffit venting is not blocked.
  • Check around light fixtures and along the tops of interior walls in your home for air leakage; there must be a tight air barrier to ensure warm moist air from inside your home does not get into the cold attic — causing condensation in the winter, increasing the risk of mold.

Also check to ensure there is adequate insulation in walls, crawl spaces, and in the basement.

Basement Insulation Tips

Interior insulation can be used in a dry basement — whether finished or not. When finishing off the basement, use batt insulation in stud cavities for walls and ceiling; or extruded polystyrene insulation on the face of perimeter walls.

For unfinished basements, install rolls of polyethylene-encapsulated fiberglass over the walls. Although insulating basement walls will help keep cold out and lower heating costs during the long winters, there are disadvantages to consider.

First, any moist air moving through the wall may cause condensation. Second — due to the moisture barrier on the foundation wall and vapor retarder on the room side of the insulation, the wall's drying potential will be hindered.

Note: never install interior insulation in a damp basement; address any moisture entry problems before insulating.

Make Yours a Well-insulated Winter House

When inspecting your house to ensure it will be energy efficient this winter, do more than check for adequate insulation.

Check for air gap problems inside the home; in walls, along ceilings and floors, around light fixtures, each wall socket, and around all windows and doors. Outside of the house, check outlets, outdoor faucets, pipes, and along foundation walls.

Use felt door weatherstripping around the sides and tops of doors; install a door sweep along the bottom of the door on the inside. Make sure the threshold (or saddle) is in good condition; otherwise, have it replaced.

If windows are drafty, replace them with energy efficient types with proper window insulation and appropriate U factor for the year round weather conditions prevalent in your area. If new windows are not an option, use window weatherstripping and/or purchase a window insulation kit; a modestly effective option, at about $3 per window.

To seal up cracks around windows, perimeter walls, and around wall sockets, use standard caulking. Fortify drafty wall sockets with foam pads made for that purpose. To seal exterior cracks around the perimeter of the home, use caulking appropriate for use in temperatures below 40-degrees.

Caulking will help to keep cold air from entering the house interior. While the estimated cost of caulk runs about $10 per tube, annual energy savings total up to $100 on average.

For optimum winterization, you might consider having your home inspected professionally. Including HVAC inspection, and fireplace chimney inspection. Check ductwork insulation; clean ducts periodically, and change filters monthly for noticeable results.

Wrap hot water pipes with foam pipe insulation or other pipe insulator; wrap water heater with a water heater insulation blanket and reduce overall heating costs. Also consider replacing an older thermostat with a newer model; one that is programmable.

For instance, one that regulates daytime and nighttime temperatures and lowers the temperature during the times of the day when the house is empty.

How to Locate a Professional

Finding just the right professional insulation contractor or licensed contractor to weatherize your home has never been easier. At TrustedPros.ca, connect with a reliable local insulation consultant or contractor at the snap of a finger.

Simply post your project online; without obligation, for FREE. And then sit back and let contractors contact you with competitive bids.

View contractor company profile, credentials, references, work history, and pictures of recently completed projects online. And then make an informed hiring decision, or hire no one at all. At TrustedPros.ca, it's that easy, that simple.

Post your project description to winterize your home online now.

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