We all know that the best way to dress for cool, damp and windy days is to layer on the clothing, right? In addition to wearing a shirt and sweater, most of us add a windbreaker to help keep away drafts. Even if temperatures don’t drop into the frigid zone, it’s a smart way to protect against chills.

The same is true for your home. If your energy bills soar when autumn gives way to the cold and wind of winter, why not consider adding some extra layers of protection? With simple, low-cost weatherizing home fixes, you’ll not only boost your comfort quotient, but almost certainly save money. You’ll also be doing your share for the environment by reducing your energy use.

2 Big Offenders: Air Leaks and Inadequate Insulation

This home chart from energy.gov will help you track down and eliminate most of the drafty spots in your home, and our NEBS team can recommend products and set you up with the tools and the know-how to get most of the work done easily, quickly and inexpensively.

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You probably already know about most of these, but consider this a refresher course:

  • Check the weatherstripping around windows and exterior doors. Replace it if necessary.
  • Caulk and seal around any plumbing pipes, water lines, ductwork or electrical conduit that penetrates, walls, ceilings or floors.
  • Insulate heating and water lines in a basement or under sinks, especially if they’re on the north or east side of the house.
  • If you feel drafts near light switches or receptacles, remove the plates and install foam pads behind them.
  • Make certain your interior wood trim has no visible gaps; repair or seal trim work as needed.
  • Check kitchen and bath exhaust fans for proper function. You don’t want to hear rattles or wind whistles.
  • Keep your dryer vent and hose clean, unblocked and working well. Replace your furnace filter for efficiency’s sake.
  • If you have single-pane windows and no storm windows, even modern window film will help alleviate drafts and keep warm air in. Hang thermal drapes for an extra layer of warmth.
  • Repair plaster cracks on interior walls, and do some detective work to find other gaps and air leaks.

Just look at it as a way to dress your house in that warm sweater!

Insulation — in the walls and the ceiling — is the windbreaker. In older Boston homes, unfortunately,  wall insulation may not be up to modern standards. In attic spaces, loose insulation might have settled, or there may be none under the eaves. Batt insulation can be added easily, even though it might not be a DIY project. If the wall cavities of your historic home are currently filled only with insulating sheets of old newspaper, investigate modern ways to blow in fiberglass, cellulose or cotton insulation.

Once again, our NEBS team can answer your questions and offer advice, and we’ll be only too happy to help you find ways that go easy on your budget! The good news is that upping the R-value of your insulation adds value to your home as well.

Finally, if you’re building new or planning an addition or renovation project, talk with your contractor about the importance of sealing, weatherizing, R-value and energy efficiency. It’s as smart a move for keeping cool in the summer as it is for staying warm in the winter.

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