Winter is coming! It's time to fix some of those places you lose heat (and money) to in the chilly weather! Here's a list o areas to address first!
The 7 most 'leaky' areas of your home when it comes to heating during the winter:
- 38% through cracks in walls windows and doors
- 20% through basement walls
- 17% through frame walls
- 16% through windows
- 5% through ceilings
- 3% through doors
- 1% through basement floor
No two houses are the same, and yours might differ from this profile. One of the best ways to determine where you can save money by keeping your house insulated is to have a home energy audit. Home energy auditors can detect the critical problem areas in your home so they can be addressed directly.
Number 1: Cracks in Walls, Windows and Doors
The biggest area for heat loss in most homes are drafts within in the walls, windows and doors. It's typical for these spots to be less noticeable than you’d think they would be. Just a single 1/8 inch gap under a standard 36-inch wide door will leak just as much cold heat out as an almost 2.5 inch hole through a wall.
You should seal cracks with caulk or foam, and install weatherstripping around any moving parts of doors and windows. You will see a return on your investment in a year or less. Caulk can also be used for sealing cracks less than 1.4 inch wide on non-movable parts of windows. Typically this will be around the frame of the window. For larger cracks, you will need to use insulation foam to seal it effectively. Also be aware that weatherstripping will eventually wear out over a few years, so sealing drafts and replacing older weatherstripping can help keep heat in the house where it belongs.
Number 2: Basement and Subfloor walls.
Basement and subfloor areas are the next most likely place to look for heat loss locations. Only about 1% of lost heat goes through a basement’s floor, but up to 20% can be lost through the basement walls. The solution to this problem is installing more insulation around the walls, or finish out the basement walls if it’s cement. When finishing a basement, you have more options for proper insulation than if you’re just adding insulation to an existing wall. Insulation’s R-value (thermal resistance) is an indicator of how quickly it loses heat. This is how you can know the effectiveness of different kinds of insulation. You can insulate unfinished basements and subfloors with a variety of products including blanket batts and rolls, foam board, foils, concrete blocks, foils, or fiber insulation.
Number 3: Framed Walls
Another large point of heat loss is through framed walls. After many years, some types of insulation can have a degrade effectiveness and should be upgraded. Here's how you can determine if you need more insulation. Select an electrical outlet on any exterior wall of your home. Turn off the power to the outlet and take the outlet cover off. On inspection, you’ll be able to see how much insulation there is, and possibly what type. Looking up your type of insulation will allow you to determine if it should be replaced or increased in its R value. A home energy audit may find that the walls are actually the most significant cause of heat loss in your home. If this is the case, talk to a professional about the best remedy for your home. Adding insulation doesn't mean major renovation in order to add it! There are options that are used for homes with existing walls. You can choose to have lose fill or blown in cellulose, fiberglass, mineral insulation, or spray foam. NOTE: These aren't DIY projects that you’ll be able to do yourself. You’ll need to hire a professional to do the job for you.
Number 4: Windows
Windows casuse a great deal of heat loss because they are made of glass, which is poor insulator. You have probably noticed that it’s colder when you stand by a window. If a home energy audit finds that your home is losing a great deal of heat through windows there are options to correct this.
Adding storm windows can reduce heat loss between 10-20%. Installing plastic sheets on your existing windows will reflect heat back into the house as well as preventing heat gains in the summer as it blocks heat from traveling through the glass, into the home. This is an easy DIY project for homeowners, fairly inexpensive, and can easily be applied using a hair dryer. Should you decide to just install new windows, be sure to choose Energy Star rated energy efficient options.
Number 5: The ceiling
Some portion of your home’s heat will be lost through the ceiling. Should a home energy audit reveal that a lot of your heat is escaping through the ceiling and into the attic, additional insulation may be necessary.. Measure the thickness of the insulation in the attic and if it is less than 11 inches of fiberglass or wool, or less than 8 inches of cellulose, you need more.
If the attic is well insulated, consider adding insulation to the attic access door.
Number 6: Doors
Believe it or not, the least of the places of heat loss is through your home’s doors. An energy audit may find your door is causing significant heat loss and that might mean its a good time to purchase a new one. The best insulating doors are steel and fiberglass doors, rather than wooden doors. Be sure to choose and Energy Star rated door. Remember, glass is a poor insulator, so even though doors with large areas of glass may be more attractive, they can be areas of heat loss for your home.
Number 7: Basement Floors
They may be the smallest area of loss, but in a large home it can be significant. There are a few ways to insulate a basement floor. Typically this floor is concrete, and as such, you can just install flooring such as carpet or tile over it. This may not improve things much however. You can also attach wood sleepers to the floor, then fill the gaps with a rigid-foam insulation and then apply a finish flooring product. Alternatively, you can cover the slab with rigid-foam insulation product and then add two layers of plywood topped by a finished flooring product. It is wise to have a professional do these things in a basement as sealing up a basement floor needs to be done correctly. By properly installing a vapor barrier over the concrete, you can reduce or eliminate buckling or warping of your flooring from excess moisture that penetrates through porous concrete.
The Liveoak Agency is here to provide extensive insurance selections for your home and property. Call us for a policy review of your insurance today!