Maintaining climate-controlled interiors is essential for many homeowners this time of year. While heat is considered a necessity, some individuals might be surprised to learn how much of it leaks from the home – even through closed doors. In fact, a third of a home’s total heat loss is typically through the windows and doors, according to The Natural Resources Defense Council. Thus begins a vicious cycle of turning the thermostat up and incurring increased utility expenses.
If interiors feel chilly, even with the heat blasting, it’s best to check for leaks. Evaluate the energy-efficiency of these three spots before adjusting the temperature.
Some heat is expected to escape when residents enter and exit their homes. However, cracked and damaged door seals allow heat to leak consistently. Weather stripping is a relatively simple fix for drafty doorways, and doesn’t require much prior experience to install. For do-it-yourself (DIY) weather stripping, gather a screwdriver, hammer, side cutters, door sweep and self-adhesive foam weather stripping. Self-adhesive foam is applied to the tops and sides of doors while sweeps are placed near the floor to prevent air flow. Make sure to clean door moldings and allow to dry completely prior to application. Then, cut foam to fit gaps on sides and tops of doors. Simply peel backing and press firmly. Finally, cut door sweeps and screw into the bottom of doors for a tight seal.
Single-pane windows often allow heat to leak from the home. If budget allows, replace older windows with storm windows or thick, thermal alternatives. Thermal replacements are double or triple-paned windows that combat escaping heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2014 Cost vs. Value report, vinyl replacement windows for homes in Minneapolis cost around $11,320 with $8,132 in potential recoup. Although expensive, thermal windows are usually two to four times more efficient than traditional single-pane glass pieces. Increased efficiency may result in as much as 30 percent savings on fuel bills. Cut costs by covering basement and attic windows with temporary foam board and 3/8-inch drywall that can be removed to let sunlight in periodically. For increased protection against heat loss throughout the home, invest in insulated blinds or curtains.
Oftentimes, basements and crawl spaces are poorly insulated – especially when unfinished and used primarily for storage. A lack of insulation in the basement significantly affects the temperature on the main floor of the home, typically when the top of the basement wall isn’t properly shielded. Up to one third of the heating costs of the average home are attributed to basement leakages, so keeping the lower level properly protected is vital to regulating energy bills. When searching for basement insulation, opt for mold-resistant panels that are simple to install. Avoid over-insulating basements, as too much material inhibits the evaporation necessary to combat mildew and mold. For existing mold issues, clean walls with soapy water prior to applying insulation panels.
The inside of a home should remain cozy, even throughout the cold winter months. Rather than risk additional energy charges, check the aforementioned spots and follow the steps to properly protect gaps, cracks and worn-down materials from emitting heat.
We’d like to thank Jennifer Riner of Zillow for partnering with us this week. Zillow is a home and real estate marketplace dedicated to helping homeowners, home buyers, sellers, renters, real estate agents, mortgage professionals, landlords and property managers find and share vital information about homes, real estate, mortgages and home improvement. In February we will be talking about InSoFast on the Zillow blog. So until then, inspect these 3 zones for air leaks and stay warm!