(ARA) – Winter’s chill is supposed to take place outdoors, but too often drafty attics, fireplaces, windows and open vents let cold air into your home. This wastes energy and can cost you big money in higher energy bills.
Drafts, such as those around doors, windows and pipes, are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits that caulk and weather-stripping provide to minimize energy loss and drafts.
But what can you do about drafts from the four largest “holes” in your home – the folding attic stair, the whole house fan, the fireplace and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can quickly, easily and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes:
Installing attic stairs creates a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood.
Often you can see a gap around the perimeter of the attic door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door – do you see any light coming through? If you do, heated and air-conditioned air is leaking out of these large gaps in your home 24-hours a day. This is like leaving a window or skylight open all year ‘round.
An easy solution to this problem is to add an insulated attic stair cover. An attic stair cover seals the stairs, stopping drafts and energy loss. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.
Whole house fans and air conditioning vents
Much like attic stairs above, installing a whole house fan creates a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only the drafty ceiling shutter between you and the outdoors.
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan shutter seal. Made from white textured flexible insulation, the shutter seal is installed over the ceiling shutter, secured with Velcro, and trimmed to fit. The shutter seal can also be used to seal and insulate air conditioning vents, and is easily removed when desired.
Sixty-five percent, or over 100 million homes in North America are constructed with wood- or gas-burning fireplaces. Unfortunately one study has shown that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent. Your heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the drafts and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.
Even if the chimney damper is shut, it is not air-tight. Glass doors don’t stop the drafts either. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking your expensive heated or air-conditioned air right out of your house.
An easy, cost efficient solution to this problem is to add a Fireplace Plug to your fireplace. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, the Fireplace Plug is an inflatable pillow that seals the fireplace damper, eliminating drafts, odors, and noise. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.
Clothes dryer exhaust ducts
In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold drafts in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house.
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted drafts, and also keeps out pests, bees and rodents. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
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