Keep the heat in and the cold out this winter: Tips for a cozy home
Winter this year promises to be harsh across much of the U.S. The Farmers’ Almanac predicts conditions will be “bitter cold,” “unseasonably cold,” “very chilly” and “frigid” for states east of the Mississippi River. In a word, brrrrrr!
Autumn is the perfect time to make sure your home stays warm and cozy, in preparation for when the bitter blasts of January and February come pounding. With some simple DIY insulation projects, you can keep the heat in and the cold out this winter, while also saving on your heating bill.
Check the basement
- One of the first places to check for proper insulation is the basement.
- “Up to 25 percent of a home’s heat loss is through the basement,” says Tom Savoy, technical director for Insulfoam.
- Many homes in the U.S. were built with fiberglass batts between wood wall studs, which is notoriously leaky, providing a bridge for heat to pass through the wall, says Savoy. Such insulation can also trap moisture in the walls, causing a musty basement smell.
- “Even if you don’t spend time in the basement, it’s crucial to insulate it right to help manage the heating throughout the rest of your home,” says Savoy.
- A simple solution is adding a layer of continuous insulation to the home’s basement walls using rigid foam boards, such as expanded polystyrene (EPS).
- Available in home improvement stores, EPS insulation is easy to cut and install using standard tools around the house. Unlike many other insulations, rigid foam boards are thin and easy to handle, without messy fibers to clean-up.
- “EPS is a professional grade insulation that even DIYers can install,” says Savoy.
- To get started insulating your basement, you will first need to figure out how much insulation you will need, based on its “R-value.” R-value is the measure of an insulation’s ability to resist heat flow, with higher numbers meaning better performance. A quick call to your city or county building department will let you know what R-value is appropriate, and if you’ll need to take anything else into account with your insulation project.
Take a look in the attic
In addition to insulating the basement, another leaky area to check is attic hatches. As heat rises, these hatches often have gaps around them, allowing the warm air to escape. Properly sealing them with weather stripping and adding a layer of rigid foam to the hatch will help keep heat in your living area.
To get ready for the coming shivery weather, the Farmers’ Almanac suggests stocking up on “sweaters, long johns, and plenty of firewood.” Part of your preparation should also include an easy weekend or two of adding insulation to your home.