Leave it to the coldest of the cold snaps to remind you what areas of your home need better insulation. It’s the first winter in our new home, and it seems like with every drop in degree, there’s a new place I can find to insulate. I am going to win this battle, the battle of me vs. energy efficiency.
It’s not always a lack of wall insulation to blame for a drafty and cool abode. Much of the time, you can improve the situation for a small price and bask in warm comfort.
Here are five+ easy, affordable ways to reduce drafts and improve home energy efficiency:
Use Door Draft Stoppers
Doors offer many gaps where cold air blasts through. If you’re looking for a temporary solution, invest in double-draft stoppers that sit beneath the bottom of your door. They’re affordable, reusable, and keep the cold air out. (Side note: I suspect that you can also make these at home using round foam pipe insulation, some fabric, and your sewing machine.)
Need something permanent? Install a door sweep.
Seal Your Doors
Vinyl foam weather seal does wonders to create a tighter seal around the top and sides of your exterior doors. (That is, if you didn’t use it all making cute stamps for your modern wrapping paper). Closed-cell vinyl foam tape is squishy with one adhesive side that makes for quick and easy installation along the door frame. When the door is pushed shut against it, it creates a tight seal. The seal will help keep the cold out. It’s available in lots of sizes, so you can customize it to your space.
Also, consider installing a storm door over your exterior door to serve as a primary barrier to the elements. Similarly, a window seal can reduce drafts on windows and paned glass doors.
Check Your Outlets
Why is there cold air coming through switches and outlets on exterior walls? That happens because insulation is usually insufficient between the exterior wall and the electrical box. Use foam outlet and switch inserts to reduce drafts. These insulative pads sit beneath the wall plates to create a barrier between the cold electrical box and the warm room.
Insulate the Basement and Attic
Do you have a basement to consider? While it isn’t advised to insulate the ceiling between the basement and the first floor, you can help prevent cold air from getting into the basement by filling the end joists with insulation. To fill these gaps, I used R-19 faced insulation cut to 10″ lengths. Then, I fit each piece between each end joist loosely, so that the soft side of the insulation was lightly against the outer wall. You don’t want the insulation to be compact. Keeping it fluffy allows the thickness of the insulation to protect against cold air that may be seeping inside.
How’s your attic? If you can access the crawlspace, take a look. An insulated attic can improve energy efficiency because heat rises in your home. Depending on your budget, square footage, and DIY prowess, you may want to invest in fiberglass rolls of insulation.
- If your attic already has insulation, choose unfaced R-30 insulation.
- If there’s no insulation in your attic, you’ll have to start with faced R-38 insulation, and potentially top it with more unfaced R-30.
- Dormer windows in the attic? Make sure they’re glazed, and consider other methods of window sealing up there, too.
Another option is blown-in cellulose insulation that will sit all light and fluffy in your attic space.
Reglaze Your Windows
Finally, come springtime, take the time to reglaze your paned glass windows. You will be able to tell which ones need new glazing if you tap-tap-tap on the glass and feel (or see) that the glass is loose. Getting the hang of using window glazing putty comes with practice, but it’s well worth it if you have glazed windows throughout your home.