5 ways to winterize your home you never thought of

| by Gary Wollenhaupt
5 ways to winterize your home you never thought of

With winter weather bearing down on us, now is the time to tighten up your home to keep heat in and cut your utility bills. The basics of weatherization are well known: caulk around windows and doors, cover windows with plastic or drapes and wear a sweater and slippers.

We wanted to provide a little twist to the standard information that comes out this time of year. Take a look at these winterization tips and let us know if you have any proven ideas to share in the comments.

Energy analysis

Conduct an energy analysis of your home. There are tools to do it online, where you plug in information about your home and the calculators offer recommendations for improvements.

"We encourage people to use energy wisely and find ways to remain comfortable while saving money," said Ken Barker, vice president of customer solutions and energy conservation for Dominion Energy, a utility that offers audit tools for its customers.

You can also have an energy audit conducted on your home. Typically a contractor will install a blower fan on your front door. This tool lowers the air pressure in your home, making it easier to spot air leaks. The contractor will make recommendations based on the performance of your home. It may cost $300 or more for an in-home audit, but the energy savings could be significant.

Insulation from blue jeans

Sure, everyone knows insulating your home is important. But it is no fun to install. Now you can forget those days of itchy, scratchy insulation, by using environmentally friendly UltraTouchInsulation made from recycled natural cotton fibers, referred to as “blue jean” insulation. Bonded Logic, makers of UltraTouch, recently announced a shift to sourcing from post-consumer blue jeans entirely.

“Our customers have reacted very favorably to the news that UltraTouch is now made from post-consumer blue jeans,” said David Church, general manager of Bonded Logic Inc. “People have a lot of affection for America’s favorite fabric and UltraTouch gives those well-loved jeans a second life and keeps them out of the landfill.”

Unlike most insulation that is treated with harsh chemicals, UltraTouch is treated with a borate-based solution for fire-retardant properties and mold and pest resistance. Borates are an EPA-registered material that have a lower toxicity level than average table salt.

The sustainability of UltraTouch continues with the manufacturing process, which uses minimal amounts of energy in comparison to traditional insulating products. Additionally, all scrap and manufacturing trim are reintroduced into the raw material supply, creating a virtually zero waste process.

It’s not surprising that UltraTouch can contribute to earning up to 12 LEED credits to a home. UltraTouch also offers superior soundproofing, with a 30- to 50-percent increase in acoustical performance over traditional insulations. The natural fibers offer maximum thermal properties, which can help reduce heating and cooling costs.

High-performance sealing

Home-repair experts say if there’s a gap the width of a nickel it should be caulked. What if you have a gap larger than that? Look for a high-performance sealant such as the new Energy Saver from DAP. It can handle gaps up to half an inch. Properly sealing and insulating can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling bills, so filling cracks around the home will pay off.

DAP's new waterproof and weatherproof sealant features flexibility and adhesion for joint movement, allowing it to expand and contract with temperature fluctuations without cracking or shrinking. DAP EnergySaver can be easily cleaned up with water, is paintable and is mold and mildew resistant. The cartridge packaging contains 45-percent post-consumer recycled content by weight and the shipping cases are supplied through a facility that is certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. In addition, the low-VOC formula provides consumers a greener choice when it comes to choosing a sealant.

“When used for sealing and insulating projects, DAP EnergySaver will have a positive impact on homeowners’ energy consumption,” said David Fuller, vice president of marketing for DAP Products Inc.

Programmable thermostat

For every degree that you raise or lower the thermostat in your home (depending on the season) you can save 1 percent on your utility costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s why programmable thermostats can be a wise investment.

Use energy only when you’re there to enjoy it, and save money when you’re not.

“We all like to save money and conserve energy, but not at the expense of comfort,” said Joe Puishys, president, Honeywell Environmental Combustion and Control. “And that makes sense because people want their homes and apartments to be as pleasant and relaxing as possible.”

Refinance your home

If your home is ready for major improvements to boost energy efficiency, consider an Energy Efficient Mortgage. An EEM loan provides funding for approved green upgrades. Apply for it when you purchase or refinance your residence. The process starts with a certified rater coming to the home to determine the upgrades that make sense for your home. Then you can choose which ones you want and apply for a loan. All renovations must comply with HUD’s Cost Effective Energy Standards.


(Photo by Michel Filion)

Topics: Cost of Ownership, Energy Audits, Going Green, Heating & Cooling, Insulation, Maintenance & Repair

Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is an experienced writer and editor, with a background as a daily newspaper reporter as well as corporate and agency public relations and marketing. He is constantly looking for affordable green upgrades to make to his home in eastern Kentucky.

wwwView Gary Wollenhaupt's profile on LinkedIn

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