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More Insulation, Less Energy1

I spent the summer with the sun mercilessly pounding down on my poor little house.  My air conditioning was constantly running, my electric bills were through the roof, and my wallet suffered horribly. 

The winter has got to be better.

So, in the interest of saving all of us FIYers a little cash (um. . . I mean, in the interest of saving the environment. . . yeah. . .that’s what I mean), I dug around the Department of Energy’s web site  and found some tips about insulation and energy efficiency in homes.   Amongst the wealth of information I found were these recommendations:

  • When purchasing windows, make sure they have an air leakage rating of 0.3 cubic feet per minute or less.  You should be able to find rating information on the National Fenestration Rating Council label.
  • Testing for air leaks is easy. Simply wait for a windy day, then hold a lit candle next to windows and doors.  If there’s a draft, you don’t have a tight enough seal.   Clear plastic tape provides an easy, cheap temporary solution to this problem.
  • Make sure you have good insulation in your attic.  I’m currently in a rental house—and the insulation in the attic sucks.  As I type this I feel like I’m sitting in a convection oven.
  • Get the power company to come out and do an energy audit on your house.  It’s usually free and doesn’t take much time out of your day.

I hope these little tips help.  As I’ve mentioned—I’m in a rental.  So there’s not much that I can do beyond bitch to the landlord.  But if you own your house, this is the time to prepare your house for winter heat conservation. 

Or, for folks like me who live in warm climates all year round, one more tip related to cooling conservation:

  •  Apply sun-control film on south-facing windows to reduce solar gain; it’s also a good idea do install awnings on south- and west-facing windows.  And make sure your curtains and/or window shades are white to reflect as much heat as possible.

Wouldn’t you rather spend your money on beer – or the ski slopes? 

by John Barker

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Comments / Discussion

  1. dan
    I would be careful with the films. I applied them and had a couple of windows crack and I spoke to someone else who had the same experience. apparently it causes uneven stress because the expansion coefficient is different on the in and outside of the window. A better way is to simply invest in duo-fold window curtains. there are a number of good companies that sell them over the internet. I bought my (Vermont) made ones ~6 years ago and could not be happier. they block the sun during the summer and keep the heat in during the winter. And they look good.
    October 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Permalink
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