SMALL STEPS TO PREPARE FOR A WARM HOME
Fall is such a beautiful season-it so perfectly transitions the heat and humidity of summer into the frigid, white winter months. The signs of winter coming in the Hudson Valley are quite obvious-falling leaves, hats and mittens, winter ales, crisp nights, high energy bills. Oh no, high energy bills!
Well, here are a few tips to keep you from sitting in your home wearing fingerless gloves in your bathrobe with a fuzzy blanket wrapped around you. Winterizing your home is easy and holds immediate and tangible rewards. You will see results as soon as the next cold wind blows (and certainly when the next heating bill arrives).
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To get started pick a nice bright, cool day with a fair amount of wind and begin with an inspection of your doors and windows. Look for any cracks that you can see daylight through, and any feeling of wind. Do you see light or feel cold air along the bottom of your doors? If you feel any air moving around the edges of doors or windowsills, you can apply self-adhesive weather stripping to run along doorframes and the bottom of window frames.
Check that all of your windows lock, and press gently on the glass to see if there is any movement. If the glass moves in the frame, it should be glazed again. This is easiest if done as a two-person project. One person can push the glass pane up and in, gently, to expose the cracks where the glass is able to rattle in the frame, while the other fills the gap with glazing compound.
Even with solid glazing and weather stripping, windows will inevitably leak some heat. There are two proven methods to keep the cold out. The least expensive way is plastic coverings (window lining kits can be found at most hardware stores), but this may not appeal to everyone’s aesthetic. In that case, consider using heavy window treatments. Heavy cloth drapes can greatly reduce the heat exchange between your home and the great outdoors, trapping heat and keeping the cold from entering your rooms. Placing small rugs against the exterior doors will add to the insulation as well.
Electric wall plugs and switches can also allow cold air to enter the house. To complete the anti-draft campaign, install precut outlet seals that fit behind the switch plate and prevent leaks.
All in all, this type of weatherizing for your home should take less than half a day, but the benefits are incredible and lasting. For more serious weatherizers—wrap plumbing pipes in exterior walls with insulating tape and check insulation of crawl spaces, attics, and doors leading to the basement.
If you are eligible, there are some substantial benefits that you can get for free through weatherization services. These are available to individuals who earn less than 60 percent of state median income and are either homeowners or renters, living in a mobile home, an apartment, or a single-family home. To see if you are eligible call Ulster County Community Action Committee (845-338-8750) or Dutchess County Community Action Partnership (845-452-5104) and ask about their weatherization program. If you aren’t eligible, there are many reputable contractors who can provide these services, and save you energy and money.
Weatherization programs may include some or all of the following services: weather-stripping and caulking; cleaning, testing, repairs, or replacement of heating systems; replacement or repair of storm windows; replacement or repair of broken windows and/or outside doors; addition of insulation to walls or ceilings; and mitigation of health and safety concerns, including indoor air quality improvements.
Seeing the first Hudson Valley snowfall out your favorite window without feeling the cold bite of winter on your nose will reassure you that winterizing was worth the effort. If that doesn’t work, check your heating bill when it arrives and you’ll see the added value. It’s comforting to know that those dollars aren’t being tossed out the cracks in the window.
–Excerpts from Country Wisdom News