Introduction: Getting Your Home Ready for Winter
Hi. This is my first post in instructables.com. If you are a lucky one like me and live in a cold location, then last winter (2014) was a very chilled experience to say the least. After seeing my heat bill going to the roof I got to the task of increasing my home efficiency as much as possible for the coming winter. My goal with this post is to share a couple of quick fixes that will be both effective and economical.
I will provide a list of the things I did so far, and that you could do to make your home more prepare to the weather and be more efficient in general.
Step 1: Sealing Air Leaks
To better understand your home you need to understand first the principle of insulation. Think of your home as a Styrofoam cooler. You want this cooler to be as sealed and tight as possible in order to keep the arm air in the winter and the cold air in the summer inside. If you put holes or a bad lid then the hot or cold air from the outside will come in and vice-versa.
The first thing is to look for those holes that are allowing the air to go out, around the windows. A cool trick you can use to find any draft is to light an incense and go around the windows from the interior. Any disturbance in the smoke will mean a draft or air leak. To correct this leaks I bought a couple of DAP silicone tubes. With a caulk gun seal around the window from the outside in this places or wherever you find old or missing caulk.
For some gaps I found around my bricks I used also a concrete mix in a tube and try to cover them as best as possible.
This is a very simple fix. If you do have other bigger gaps, then you can use a can of expanding foam.
Step 2: Covering Recess Ligts and Other
I also notice a lot of air draft around my recess lights. I do believe you can purchase a sealed enclosure but mine don't appear to be and I didn't wanted to replace them. They don't appear to be a sealed enclosure. Searching the internet it said that the ones that are not supposed to be in contact are to be within 3 inch distance from the insulation. I decided to build two boxes to placed over and guaranteed air from the attic not to come in. I bought a single foam board that the guys at the hardware store were kind enough to cut in two pieces for better handling. Using the jig saw cut 4 pieces of 18"x18" and one top of 18.5"x18.5" per each box (you can also use a utility knife to cut the boards). After that I used liquid nail and screws to hold all the pieces together. I left the liquid nail to dry for a day an installed the assembled boxes the following day. You can see the final product in the last picture.
Step 3: Increasing Furnace Efficiency
About 20 to 30% of the air that moves thru the air duct is lost thru leaks and holes in the ducts according to energystart.com. Just with the touch you can notice all the air leaks flowing thru the joints. You can buy silver foil tape to use in the bigger gaps in your air duct. There is also a gray compound call mastic (duct sealant) for the smaller gaps specially around the joints. The mastic will be applied with a brush. After you finish applying you will notice the difference. The biggest change for me was in the main connection between the air duct and the furnace.
I was using the best air filter I could buy to make sure I was filtering all the undesired particles from the air but after careful consideration I decided to replace them with just a good filter. My logic of going to a lower FPR is that a lesser but still good filter will provide less resistant to the air flow and still filter the bigger particles, but I could be wrong.
Step 4: Other Tips.
Other things to consider are:
- Keeping your thermostat as low as possible.
- Leaving the window blinds open so the sun helps heat up the house during the day.
- Hiring a professional to clean the air ducts.
Happy Winter :)