The pure bliss of sitting by the window with a steaming hot cuppa in hand and watching the first snowflakes of the season drifting down on to the driveway. But these simple joys of winter can only be enjoyed when your house is insulated and you know that the energy bills won’t shock you at the end of the month.
Below are six insulation tips to help you stay warm this winter while being energy-efficient and environment-friendly.
Spot the Air Leaks and Seal Them
Search for air leaks around door and window joints by looking out for drafts of air when these are closed. Then seal these with weather stripping, spray foam, or caulk. Air leaks are also commonly found in attics, basements, and crawl spaces and often these spots remain hidden behind bulky pieces of household items. So, before winter sets in, make sure that you comb these oft-neglected areas for air leaks.
Seal the Ducts
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 20 percent of the heat circulating through the ducts and ventilation system of an average house is lost from leaks. To prevent this colossal waste, use a duct sealant. Look for these leaks around your forced-air cooling and heating systems and on the exposed ducts that run through attics, basements, garages, and crawl spaces.
Add New Insulation
This is one of the most effective ways to insulate your home without raking up the energy bills. You have plenty of options as regards the materials you can use for insulation. You can use rolls and batts made from fiberglass or rock wool; loose-fill insulation made from rock wool, fiberglass, or cellulose and which needs to be blown into cavities; foam-in-place insulation that too needs to be blown in; and rigid foam insulation that is a great choice should you need to insulate exterior walls.
Insulate the Plumbing Works
This is a little-known tip that can do wonders for your utility bills. You can insulate your hot-water storage tank—electric, natural gas, or oil—to retain the temperature of the water inside. But remember not to cover the thermostat, the top and bottom of the unit, and/or the burner compartment. You can also reduce heat loss to a great extent by installing heat traps on the hot- and cold-water taps of your water heater, if the unit does not have one built in. Before winter sets in, drain about a quart of water to keep the tank sediment-free.
Limit Hot Water Use
You can keep the water from turning cold even in the most frigid season by insulating the plumbing works. Afterwards, use the hot water judiciously to keep the energy and utility bills from skyrocketing. Install low-flow, aerating faucets and showerheads in kitchens and bathrooms to prevent wasting hot water.
Buy ENERGY STAR® Appliances
If you have plans to replace or buy new appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers, buy ENERGY STAR® rated models. These models not only save electricity but are also water-efficient and help you save precious hot water during the cold months.
Sealing air leaks around the house, adding insulation to walls and plumbing works, limiting the use of hot water, and using energy-efficient appliances are the most effective and cost-efficient ways to keep yourself, your family members, and your house warm and cozy during the winter. These measures are also effort-efficient and some of the investments you make on this front now will see you through many winters in the future.