Leave it to the coldest of the cold snaps to remind you what areas of your home need better insulation. It's the first winter in our new home, and it seems like with every drop in degree, there's a new place I can find to insulate. I am going to win this battle, the battle of me vs. energy efficiency. It's not always a lack of wall insulation to blame for a drafty and cool abode. Much of the time, you can improve the situation for a small price and bask in warm comfort. Here are some quick tips that you can implement in a pinch.
Doors offer many gaps for cold air to blast through. If you're looking for a temporary solution during the cold front, invest in double draft stoppers that sit beneath the bottom of your door (they fit under windows too!). They cost less than $10 each, and immediately protect heat from leaking out and cold air from seeping in. (Side note: I suspect that you can also make these at home using round foam pipe insulation, some fabric, and your sewing machine, or you can make a draft dodger using fabric and kitty litter). If you're looking for a more permanent draft stop, you can install a door sweep in 5 minutes to lessen the flow of air beneath a door.
Seal Your Doors
Vinyl foam weatherseal does wonders to create a tighter seal around the top and sides of your exterior doors. It's squishy with one adhesive side that makes for quick and easy installation along the door frame. When the door is pushed shut against it, it creates a tight seal and will help keep the cold out.
Also, consider adding a storm door over your exterior doors to serve as a primary barrier to the elements, and a window seal to drafty windows and paned glass doors.
Check Your Outlets
You might notice cold air coming through switches and outlets that sit on exterior walls. Foam outlet and switch inserts do exist for these situations; they're little pads that sit right beneath the wall plate to insulate between the cold electrical box and the warm room.
Insulate the Basement and Attic
Do you have a basement to consider? While it isn't advised to insulate the ceiling between the basement and the first floor, you can help to prevent cold air from getting into the basement by filling the end joists with insulation. I used a R-19 product cut to 10″ lengths and fit it in between each end joist loosely, so that the soft side of the insulation was lightly against the outer wall. You don't want it compact, but allow the thickness of the insulation to protect against cold air that may be seeping inside.
Or is it your attic that needs attention? Determine whether investing in attic insulation will help retain more heat into the house and improve your energy efficiency. Depending on your budget, square footage and DIY prowess, you may want to invest in fiberglass rolls of R-49 that can be laid directly on the ceiling joists, or blow-in cellulose insulation that will sit all light and fluffy, like a cloud of warmth.
Finally, come springtime, take the time to reglaze your paned glass windows. You will be able to tell which ones need a new glazing if you tap-tap-tap on the glass and and feel (or see) that the glass is loose. Learn how to reglaze windows over here.
-By Emily Fazio for DIYNetwork.com
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