You may not need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blowing, but no matter the direction, your home should protect you from any wind — as well as outdoor temperatures, air contaminants and other elements that you don’t want indoors.
Unfortunately, many homes, both old and new, have small, often hidden holes and leaks that let the outdoors in — and that makes weatherization every homeowner’s best friend.
What is weatherization, and why does a home need it?
Weatherization methods improve heating and cooling efficiency, which translates into lower energy bills, and, thus, extra cash in your pocket.
In addition to saving money on bills (as if that wasn’t a good enough reason on its own!), weatherization offers homeowners these five additional benefits:
- It makes a home more comfortable. In the winter, drafts creep in cracks; in the summer, heat seeps in holes. Both make the ambient temperature inside a home less comfortable. Weatherization closes all these little cracks and pinholes to keep the inside temperature consistent and comfortable.
- It reduces wear and tear on HVAC equipment. Heating and cooling systems have to work harder when air leaves a home, so even small openings make HVAC systems wear out faster. Plus, when HVAC systems work overtime, they’re more likely to break down, meaning you have to pay for more frequent maintenance.
- It’s environmentally friendly. By improving heating and cooling efficiency, weatherization conserves energy and natural resources, which is good for the planet (as well as your wallet).
- It keeps occupants healthier. Weatherization improves indoor air quality by sealing off a home from external contaminants like air pollution and natural allergens such as pollen and ragweed. This is especially helpful for people with allergies, asthma and other chronic health conditions.
- It increases a home’s value. “Green” is a buzzword these days, and many buyers seek out homes that offer environmentally friendly features. Weatherizing a home is not just a great way to ensure you’re comfortable while you’re living there; you’ll have a desirable feature to attract buyers – and a higher selling prices– when you are ready to sell.
Weatherization methods can range from simple DIY tasks to professional-grade jobs. Here are some ways to tackle trouble spots and weatherize a home, indoors and out:
- Track down and seal any large air leaks (the ones where you can feel a noticeable draft or hear a whistling noise on a windy day). Check the areas around windows and doors, and where utilities enter a home (i.e., where pipes, cables and telephone wires are located), and seal any cracks or leaks with caulk or foam insulation.
- Caulk on the inside to keep heated air in and keep out the water vapor that can condense in a cold wall cavity. Any large gaps on the exterior of a home should also be weatherproofed to keep rain out of the walls.
- If you don’t already have them, consider upgrading to energy-efficient windows. Double-paned windows create an insulating air space between panes of glass.
- If you’re not ready to invest in new windows, a cost-effective stop-gap is to seal the entire window with a layer of plastic before the winter. Simply tape down a heat-shrinking film (available at any home improvement store) and blow-dry with a hair dryer to tighten the film against the window opening.
- Clear away weeds or any debris from outdoor HVAC units to allow air to circulate freely around the unit.
- Proper insulation is critical. Ensure you have the right amount of insulation in exterior walls, roofs, ceilings, attic floors, and floors above basements or crawl spaces. If you don’t have any insulation at all in one or more of these areas, call in a pro to remedy the situation, and watch your energy bills drop.
- Pay attention to insulation’s R-value, which is the standardized measure to rate the relative effectiveness of insulation materials. Insulation should always be judged by R-value rather than inches; the higher the R-value, the more effective it will be. To ensure proper levels of insulation, check your local building codes.
With heating and cooling accounting for the greatest portion of energy costs in the average home, these tips will help you keep the elements out and save money on energy bills — no matter the weather.
Ready to take action with home upgrades?
Did you know rebates up to $900 are available on qualifying energy-efficient equipment through DTE Energy? Visit dteenergy.com/saveenergy to see if you are eligible for rebates on your home’s air conditioner, furnace or boiler, or insulation. Use our Energy Efficiency Directory to find a participating contractor near you!