Page 33 - WCM 2023 Winter Flip
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 Top Ten Weatherization Tips for Western Maine Homes by Anna Heath, certified Passive House consultant and local area builder.
1. A useful preliminary step is to get an energy audit. This will give you baseline information about your home’s energy usage and areas for improvement. During the audit, a professional will use several tools to inspect and measure the air-tightness of your home, as well as perform a visual inspection of the interior and exterior. A blower door test is the most common test, in which a fan in a doorway depressurizes the house so that air flow can be measured. Following the audit, you’ll receive a report with results and recommendations for next steps. An energy audit after you’ve completed your weatherization list will be able to show you the improvements you’ve made, as well as identify any spots you’ve missed. Efficiency Maine maintains a database of qualified contractors, searchable by zip code, who can complete energy audits. Get started at
2. Make a drawing of your home’s heated and unheated spaces. Think about attics, basements, crawl spaces, closets, utility rooms, and other spaces you might not realize you’re heating. Especially if your home has been modified or added onto over time, you may find inconsistencies with whether or not spaces were fully insulated and designed to be heated. A door leading to a woodshed or back porch may actually be the “exterior” door that needs to be insulated and tightly sealed, even though one isn’t exiting the building – just the heated space. Use a flashlight at door jambs,
vents, chimneys, and other openings to see if there really is insulation where you’ve assumed there is. Return to your drawing to see if there are spaces you can cut out of your heating envelope to save on energy usage.
3. Install foam insulation gaskets underneath all outlets on exterior walls. Outlets often have no insulation behind them, and can be a significant entry point for cool air into the home. This fix is not only quick and simple, but also very affordable and has a big impact. You can find foam outlet insulation gaskets at your local hardware store.
4. Check the caulking on your windows. According to the Department of Energy, roughly 30% of a home’s energy is lost through the windows. Look for cracked, discolored, or old caulking that needs to be replaced. Condensation on windowpanes can also be a sign that the window needs re-caulking. Remove old caulking with a putty knife before applying new, and clean the window and frame of any dirt or debris that could prevent the caulk from making a tight seal. When you recaulk a window, make sure not to caulk it shut! In some cases with older windows, such as those with lead weights, it may be worth it to permanently fix
an upper pane shut in order to be able to caulk around it. Check the directions on your caulking tube – some types of caulking can only be installed at certain temperatures. You’ll find many different types of caulk at your hardware store – choose between interior, exterior, and waterproof (for bathrooms). Make sure your caulking is paintable!
5. Insulate your windows. This can be done with single- use kits that cover the window opening with plastic film for the season, or with re-useable WindowDressers, which pay for themselves in one or two heating seasons, and can be repaired. Thermal curtains are another option, especially in a room where you won’t miss the natural light.
6. Insulate all hot water pipes. As hot water moves from your hot water heater to each faucet, it loses heat in the pipes. Insulation will help protect pipes from freezing, but will also result in you getting to use the hot water you’re paying to heat. Start at your hot water heater and add pipe insulation everywhere that hot water pipes are accessible.
If you insulate all of the water pipes, not just the hot water pipes in a room like a utility room or basement, you may find that you can change your heating envelope and reduce the heat in that area without risking your pipes freezing. If you’re unsure whether or not a space might freeze, keep a thermometer in the room to monitor as the seasons change.
7. Insulate any penetrations between the basement ceiling and main floor, or upper floor and the attic. You can use spray foam for small holes and other specialty products for around chimneys. This stops air transfer between floors, keeping the heat (or cool air in the summer) on the level where it’s produced. As an added bonus, sealing off these openings would slow the spread of fire. Check doors and trap doors to make sure they’re insulated and tightly sealed as well.
8. Turn down your hot water heater temperature. Dropping your water storage tank by ten degrees can
save you 3-5% percent in heating costs, according to By insulating your pipes (#6), you’ve reduced the heat loss between the tank and the faucet, which will already cause, on average, a four-degree temperature increase in what you feel at the faucet. Decide if you can live with a six-degree drop (the proposed ten minus the four you gained through pipe insulation).
9. Add timers to your thermostat or other heating devices in your home. Thermometer sensors and temperature controls can help you become more specific in how, when, and where you’re heating or cooling. You could choose to have the house maintain a lower temperature during the day when you’re gone, and have it heat up twenty minutes before you’re due home.
10. Weatherstrip around doors and add a door sweep if needed. First, check that your door is tight on its hinges and fitting the door jamb as best it can. There are several types of weatherstripping, depending on the style of your door. Kerf weatherstripping fits in an existing groove and presses into place. You’ll also find foam weatherstripping with a sticky side that can be pressed into place. Inspect existing weatherstripping too – over time, sunlight and compression will degrade weatherstripping, and it will need replacement. A door sweep may either stick or screw in place. Y 33

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