Thursday, February 18, 2010

Keeping out the...cold?

As I mentioned before I took a weatherization course and thought I'd share some of the gray matter goodness. I know it's almost 60 degrees here so now is a good time to do these jobs.
There's so many things a homeowner can do to cut heating and energy usage. You may have heard of a lot of them in public service announcements from your electric or gas company but there is so much more that can be done that with not much money can save you a ton of money. And who doesn't like to save money in this economy. Okay I know the only one using less energy than Billy is a hermit living in a cave so he doesn't count. But for the rest of us it's a different story.

Windows and doors - These are one of the biggest sources of heat loss. A 1/4 inch gap around a window or door is like having a four inch square hole in the wall leaking your heat and money to heat the city where you live. With a $4 tube of caulk you can easily do two or three windows with some left over. If the gap is larger use spray foam first then caulk over it. A can of foam is about $5 most places. And a good piece of advice is to have all the areas you plan to foam ready for foam before you start. Foam will harden in the tube after a certain time and they don't sell extra tubes. There's also the areas under the sink where the pipes go through the wall that usually aren't sealed. The pipe behind the washer or any pipe that goes through a wall to the outside.
Then there's the question of which caulk to use. Simple - do you plan to paint over where you just caulked? Yes - laytex or painters caulk is what you want. No - silicone which will not accept paint.
The trick to using caulk is to cut the tube end at a 45 degree angle, draw the gun towards you in a smooth even pace. Using a cup of warm water wet your finger and smooth out the caulk working it into the gap. Wipe off any excess on a rag. Oh and don't seal the small slots at the bottom of the frame. They're weep holes to let condensation escape.
With foam there are two basic types - open cell and closed cell. Open cell foam comes in those spray cans with the tube. You shake well and spray. Yes there are light medium and heavy types in the spray can and some non expanding (which is used around windows because it doesn't expand causing the window frame to warp). Closed cell foams come in two tank units that flow through long hoses and mix at the tip. They're used for large jobs. Closed cell foams are also better insulators because no air gets through the material after it has set. The draw backs with closed cell is that they are expensive and must be used up in six months. A unit can cost $150 or more so unless you have large areas they're not worth the price.
So that's today's installment on saving money tips of weatherization. More later.


Four Dinners said...

Never heard the word weatherization in me life.

It has a nice ring to it.

It's keeping out the burglars I worry about around here!..;-)

Dan said...

Even when windows are properly sealed, they get cold. It's like having a giant sheet of ice stuck to the side of your wall. When it gets extremely cold, you can sacrifice your view for a while and attach some clear vinyl sheets over the window frame, leaving a gap between the window and the mylar. It really obstructs your view, but it'll help keep you warm also. Double-paned windows also help.

I now live in California, but I've lived in the midwest for many years and know what cold weather is like. That's why I'm staying here. :-)

Randal Graves said...

So you're suggesting we go all Howard Hughes? I always wanted one of those giant planes.

I've tossed those plastic sheets over my front windows. They're too big and I don't have the loot to get fancy-ass, anti-weather ones, thus the magic of hazy plastic.