Add Weatherstripping, Attic Insulation, and Window Plastic to Reduce Heat Costs

Geothermal Heat and AC  |  Wood Heat  |  Passive Solar Heat  |  Home Insulation  |  Types of Energy Loss  |  4 Ways to Save Heat

Introduction: As stated in my article Types of Energy Loss, there are two types of heat loss: conductive, and convective. Conductive heat losses occur directly through insulating barriers. Convective heat losses occur at energy leak points such as doors and window. In this article, four simple and fairly inexpensive steps help you to minimize both types of heat loss.

Four Ways To Save On Heating Costs

Number One - Seal Off Leaky Old Windows
window plastic insulationDid you know that an old drafty window can be made to perform as well or better than a top of the line window with respect to keeping out the cold by simply adding a few dollars worth of shrink plastic over the top? That is because the plastic forms an air-tight wind barrier and also coverts your old window and storm into a triple pane window. How do I know? I still have several old windows that I plastic up and they form absolutely no condensation, ever. Yet some of my new (and pricey) windows will form condensation in very cold weather. No need to get the real expensive window kits. I used the "Duck" brand window plastic kit in this window shown. I placed the two sided tape on the inside ridge, fit the plastic in place, used a hair dryer to firmly adhere the plastic and tape by pressing it while heating it, carefully trimmed the plastic off the edges, and then again used the hair dryer to tighten the plastic. From the photo (click to enlarge) you will see that the plastic is barely noticeable.

window insulationIf you have a bay window or other awning type window, you may find the that window does not close as securely as you would like. Or, as is the case with us, the window juts out into the elements and ends up being a large source of heat loss. What I did was ordered two extra screens for the window and replaced the screen with plastic. Also, I attached a thin bead of foam weather strip along the inside edge. Then, I switch out my screens with these interior storms. They require no special tools or cutting and on a warm spring day I can temporarily remove the storms if needed. In addtion, I built an interior storm for the middle of this bay window out of vinyl screen framing stock, available at home stores and hardware stores. Instead of screen, I again attached plastic. And again, I adhered a thin strip of foam weather strip on the inside edge. To secure the storm in place, I use some clear plastic tabs I cut out of the lid of an ice cream pail. Click on the photo shown left to enlarge - you will be hard pressed to notice that any alteration has taken place. And these added storms really help - without them, there is a lot of window condensation. With the storms there is none.

Number Two - Seal Off Leaky Doors
door weatherstrippingweather stripDoors can be a major source of heat loss since the heat can quickly be transported out cracks and gaps. The solution is to seal off these gaps. And it doesn't cost much! One place where a lot of heat escapes is along the bottom of the door. A soluton is to install a threshold seal like the one shown in the photo on the left (click to enlarge). In this particular door, I also have a seal along the bottom, but it doesn't hurt to add the extra seal since this is where the coldest air will be.

Another place where cold air will creep in is along the edge of the door. In the photo shown on the right, I have installed a weather strip with a lot of give to it. The more give the better. This particular weather stripping has a "C" shape that seals nicely. What you don't want is a stiff weather strip that will get even stiffer when cold conditions set in. You will also notice in the photo on the right (click to enlarge) that there is a metal strip in addition to the weather strip I added. Having double stripping is a good idea. Also, weather strip your screen or storm door. The ideal situation is to get as dead an air space as possible between your main door and your storm/screen door.

Number Three - Insulate Above Basement Walls
insulate basementAlthough this measure may cost you $50, it is very easy and you will recover the cost is perhaps a single heating season! Start by purchasing inslulation sized to fill this area. In my case, I purchased 6" thick insulation in widths to fill my 16 " on-center floor joist areas. You should measure your space to verify your own size needed.

After obtaining the insulation, I cut lengths to fill the cavity between the top of my block basement wall and the bottom of my floor. Then use a long stick to help push the batts in place. That's it! This will help prevent a lot of heat from escaping out the sides of your house through the mere 2" or less of wood barrier.



Number Four -Add Insulation to Your Attic
You might be saying, "My attic is already insulated!" But is there enough? In most northern areas, nearly 16-18" of fiberglass insulation is required to obtain the recommended R49 value! (See chart at bottom) That is about three 6-inch batts. So, get some more insulation and lay it over the top. I like to fill up the bays between walls and then place batts perpendicular over the top so as to better seal off air and prevent cold air movement down to the ceiling. This can cost a few hundred dollars, but the recovery time for this investment is only a few years since a lot of heat can be lost through a poorly insulated attic since warm air rises.


R-Value Chart
Map and Chart Used With Permission From US Department of Energy

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