The concept of neighborhood weatherization is one that you may not be familiar with, but many energy companies are starting to offer such plans as a way to help families, neighborhoods, and entire communities that they service. The basic idea is to help homeowners understand where energy waste is occurring in the household and then provide them with the knowledge and skills needed to address waste in order to cut energy consumption and lower their utility bills. This is not only good for individual homeowners, but it also aids the community at large by improving the environment. And generally speaking, it only requires that a couple of homes in any given neighborhood schedule energy audits (to pinpoint problem areas) and request that professionals come out to provide lessons in how to weatherize homes. But you don’t even necessarily have to rely on your power company to provide these services when you know the basics of weatherization. Here are just a few helpful hints that could lead to energy conservation and monetary savings.
1. Get an energy audit. Okay, this first step is going to cost you something. Whether your local power company offers neighborhood weatherization or not, you can’t really start addressing the energy waste in your home until you know where it is occurring. A professional auditor will go over your house from top to bottom and deliver a report that spells out where air is coming in and out, such as around door and window frames, near vents and ductwork, and even via outdated or inefficient insulation. Once you know the culprits you can begin to correct the energy issues facing your structure.
2. Add weather stripping. Even if doors and windows are seated properly, wooden frames are bound to shrink and expand over time thanks to temperature, humidity, and other weather conditions. And this could lead to leakage. In fact, these are some of the most common areas for drafts to occur. So add appropriate weather stripping as needed to seal up the leaks.
3. Insulate pipes. The pipes that carry water throughout your home are generally insulated in order to protect the surrounding structure and ensure that heat isn’t lost in transfer. But insulation can deteriorate throughout long years of use. While you might not want to tear out the walls in order to see if this is happening in your home, it’s not a bad idea to replace visible pipe insulation when you see that it needs to be done (and talk to a plumber about the rest).
4. Seal ducts. Ducts that vent to the outside can certainly become loose or unseat completely due to inclement weather conditions or even simple wear and tear. So check them periodically to see if you need to repair them and/or add sealant (duct tape, caulking, spray foam, etc.).
5. Create reusable window inserts. If you don’t want to shell out major money for winter storm windows to replace your summer screens, you can at least add an extra layer of insulation by creating inserts that can be used year after year and easily and cheaply repaired or replaced in the event that they are damaged. If you want to keep your electricity and gas prices low throughout the colder months of the year, all you really need is wood for the frame structure, weather stripping to make sure you get a tight seal in the window frame, and shrink wrap to trap an additional layer of air that will insulate your interior. You can find the best utility rates on sites like http://www.electricityprices.org.uk, as well as tips and tricks to reduce energy consumption, but there’s also a lot you can do on your own. And protecting your home from outside elements through weatherization is a great place to start.