Weatherizing for Less Than $150
Weatherizing your house improves the likelihood of maintaining a steady temperature inside your home. John Krigger and Chris Dorsi, nationally recognized experts in the field of energy conversation for buildings, and authors of Residential Energy, explain, “Heat flowing out of and into buildings is a major energy consumer. Air leakage and ventilation intake are heated or cooled by the building’s space conditioning systems. For every cubic foot of air that enters, a cubic foot leaves, taking the heating or cooling energy with it.”
You don’t need to spend a lot to realize savings. Here are a few simple, inexpensive ways to reduce energy consumption and save on heating and cooling costs.
Insulate outlets and switches
Applying electrical outlet foam sealers to all receptacles and switches will eliminate the flow of air from the outside. Air leaks from drafty basements and attics can travel through interior as well as exterior walls. A package of 50 foam sealers costs about $12-14. When you remove the plate, check to see if there are open, unsealed spaces around the outlet box. If so, use a spray foam insulating product to fill any open areas around the perimeter of the box only (NOT inside). Great Stuff spray foam insulation manufactured by Dow sells for about $3 a can. Their product website has instructional videos providing tips for how to use the product effectively.
Weatherstrip and tighten up doors
Tighten up hinges, door knobs and strike plates first. Loose doors are leaky doors. Next, try this test: Take a hair dryer on high heat setting, close your door, aim and blow at the level of the threshold. If you feel a draft or heat on the other side, you can bet the door isn’t properly sealed.
Gaps at the bottom of a door cause a tremendous air leakage which equates to heat or cool air loss. Woodbridge Environmental, an energy audit company in Edison, NJ, said on Hometalk.com, "Depending on the door type, you can purchase replacement rubber strips for the bottom of your doors. These oftentimes slide right into the door bottoms. Also some doors have adjustable thresholds ... typically made of a wood strip that has large screws mounted flush with the top of the board that comes in contact with the door gasket. By turning these with a large screwdriver, you can raise and lower this and thus tighten or loosen the gap between the door gasket and the threshold. If you're seeing a gap between the doors like a little hole, then you need to find out the name of the door that was installed. There are special gaskets for double doors that will seal the little space between each door corners where they meet. A good quality lumber yard would have to order these for you. You will not find them in any of the big box stores."
After you’ve tightened up the door and installed a door sweep, apply weatherstripping to the door jamb. There are several kinds: Adhesive foam tape (with a peel-and-apply backing), pile felt, plastic V-seal or P-shaped silicon bulb are the most common, ranging in price from $3 -10 for approximately 10 –17 feet. Top-of-the-line is a bronze V-seal, but you must have at least 1/8 inch of space between the edge of the door and the jamb to install this type. Otherwise, get the most flexible stripping you can. For the longest wear, install stripping against the jamb, not the door.
Also consider removing the trim around the door, using Great Stuff Window & Door spray insulation to fill gaps in the frame, then re-nail or replace the trim. This type of spray foam insulation is soft and malleable, and will flow into small gaps easily without warping the framing as it expands.
The process for insulating windows is dependent on whether you have a casement or double-hung window, but essentially V-shaped plastic weatherstripping and adhesive foam tape work well. You can usually find detailed instructions for installing any weatherstripping product at the brand’s website. As with doors, you can decrease air leakage and drafts by removing window trim and applying spray foam insulation in the surrounding frame.
One of the most overlooked methods of reducing drafts during winter months is to close and lock your windows. Locking windows pushes the top and bottom sashes tightly against the frame, creating a tighter seal.
Replace dryer vent
If you have an old-style dryer vent, consider replacing it with an energy efficient one ($15) which uses a floating shuttle that remains closed when the dryer is not in use.