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Weatherstripping and Insulation 101: Key to a Comfortable Home

Last updated on October 15th, 2023 at 03:00 pm

Feeling like your home is leaking cash faster than a rusty faucet? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. You’re gazing out of those drafty windows, wondering if they’ve secretly become the neighborhood’s personal wind tunnel. Those drafts are like unwanted guests at a never-ending party, always hanging around and refusing to leave. It’s frustrating, right? You just want a cozy home without breaking the bank, not an Arctic adventure every time you step inside.

Insulation is what helps keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It also gives your heating and air conditioning units a break during these months. However, knowing what kind of insulation you need, where you need it, and what an R-value is can be confusing.

By properly insulating your home you can create a more comfortable, consistent indoor climate while significantly improving your home’s energy efficiency.

This guide will help you learn about the different types of insulation used in residential construction, and give you the knowledge and confidence necessary to make the right purchase decision to meet your home needs.

Why Weatherstripping Matters

Imagine your home as a fortress, and your windows as the gateways. When those gateways have gaps and leaks, it’s like having an open drawbridge, inviting the cold air to invade your warm sanctuary. Weatherstripping acts as your trusty shield, sealing those gaps and keeping your precious heat inside.

Before we dive into the details, let’s understand why weatherstripping and insulation matter. They are the unsung heroes of home improvement, working tirelessly behind the scenes to make your life better. Weatherstripping, as the name suggests, seals gaps around doors and windows, preventing the unwanted intrusion of outside air. Insulation, on the other hand, ensures your home maintains a consistent temperature by slowing the transfer of heat.

Properly installed weatherstripping and insulation not only enhance your comfort but also lead to substantial energy savings. A well-insulated home requires less heating and cooling, which translates to lower utility bills. Furthermore, it’s an eco-friendly choice, reducing your carbon footprint and contributing to a greener future.

Now, let’s talk dollars and cents. Heating your home can be a significant expense, especially during the colder months. When you have drafts coming in, it’s like throwing money out of those drafty windows. Weatherstripping helps you retain that valuable warmth and can lead to substantial savings on your energy bills.

But it’s not just about the money. A well-insulated home is also a more comfortable and cozy one. No more shivering while binge-watching your favorite shows or feeling like you’re camping indoors. Weatherstripping can transform your living space into a snug oasis

What is R Value?

The most important number is R Value.  R-value is the measure of a material’s ability to resist heat conduction. The greater the material’s R-value, the better it performs as an insulator. All values assigned to insulation are based on specific thicknesses and are usually noted on the packaging.

Compressing or otherwise reducing the thickness of insulation reduces its ability to resist conduction. Find your region on the map and use the chart to determine the r-value you need.

How to Select Insulation: If you’ve ever walked through the aisle at your local Lowes store, you’ve seen the amazing array of products available for our home’s today. Each type has it’s strengths and weaknesses, but how do you know what kind to buy?

1. Determine where additional insulation is needed.
2. Determine what R-value you need for maximum insulation efficiency.
3. Determine the type of insulation you need.
4. Calculate the quantity of insulation you should buy

Check these areas for the opportunity to add insulation

1.  Attic – Slide a yardstick or tape measure into the existing insulation. If it is not up to 19 inches deep, add more.

2. Basement – check rim joists and basement walls.

3. Crawlspaces – check between floor joists if vented, and check perimeter walls if unvented.

4. Exterior walls and floors – turn off the electricity first, then check by removing an electrical outlet cover.

5. Garage – check garage walls and ceilings that are adjacent to conditioned spaces in the house.

Click on the map to find your recommended levels of insulation from EnergyStar.gov.

Types of Insulation

Insulation is made from a variety of materials, and it usually comes in four types: rolls and batts, loose-fill and rigid foam.

Rolls and Batts: Rolls and batts — or blankets — are flexible products made from mineral fibers, such as fiberglass and rock wool. They are available in widths suited to standard spacing of wall studs and attic or floor joists: 2 inch x 4 inch walls can hold R-13 or R-15 batts; 2 inch x 6 inch walls can use R-19 or R-21 products.

Loose-Fill Insulation.  Loose-fill is usually made of fiberglass, rock wool, or cellulose in the form of loose fibers or fiber pellets. It should be blown into spaces using special pneumatic equipment.

The blown-in material conforms readily to odd-sized building cavities and attics with wires, ducts, and pipes, making it well suited for places where it is difficult to effectively install other types of insulation.

Rigid Foam Insulation: Rigid foam is typically more expensive than rolls and batts or loose-fill insulation, but it is very effective in exterior wall sheathing, interior sheathing for basement walls, and special applications such as attic hatches. Foam R-values range from R-4 to R-6.5 per inch of thickness, which is up to 2 times greater than most other insulating materials of the same thickness.

One of the most cost-effective ways to make your home more comfortable year-round is to add insulation to your attic, including the attic trap or access door, which is relatively easy.  To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of the insulation.

If it is less than R-30 (11 inches of fiberglass or rock wool or 8 inches of cellulose), you could probably benefit by adding more.

If your attic has enough insulation and proper air sealing, and your home still feels drafty and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, chances are you need to add insulation to the exterior walls.

This is more expensive and usually requires a contractor, but it may be worth the cost—especially if you live in a very cold climate. If you replace the exterior siding on your home, consider adding insulation at the same time.

Weatherstrip

You can use weatherstripping in your home to seal air leaks around doors or windows.  Choose a type of weatherstripping that will withstand the friction, weather, temperature changes, and wear and tear associated with its location.

For example, when applied to a door bottom or threshold, weatherstripping could drag on carpet or erode as a result of foot traffic. Weatherstripping in a window sash must accommodate the sliding of panes — up and down, sideways, or out. The weatherstripping you choose should seal well when the door or window is closed but allow it to open freely.

Choose a product for each specific location. Felt and open-cell foams tend to be inexpensive, susceptible to weather, visible, and inefficient at blocking airflow. However, the ease of applying these materials may make them valuable in low-traffic areas. Vinyl, which is slightly more expensive, holds up well and resists moisture.

Check local building codes and as always, it helps to have the right tools for the job. The basic tools you need are: a tape measure, utility knife, straight edge, lightweight stapler, or hammer tacker to secure insulation in place, and a putty knife.

Working with insulation can cause itching and skin irritation, so make sure you take proper safety precautions. Wear long sleeves and pants, work gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask or respirator to avoid irritating your skin or breathing in harmful substances. Vacuum your clothing immediately after to help reduce the chances of skin irritation.

It’s also a great idea to bring a portable light, especially when working in attics and crawlspaces, plywood to stand on, a rake for insulation adjustment, and insulation supports. All these tools and materials will come in handy during your project.

Home Insulation Explained

Congratulations, dear reader, you’ve reached the end of our journey through affordable home insulation for beginners. You’ve learned how to tackle those pesky drafts, save money on your energy bills, and turn your home into a cozy haven.

Remember, weatherstripping isn’t just about stopping drafts; it’s about taking control of your home’s comfort and budget. It’s a DIY project that packs a punch, making your living space more energy-efficient, eco-friendly, and downright inviting.

As we wrap up, here’s a quick recap of the key takeaways:

  1. Assess Your Windows: Start by inspecting your windows for drafts. Identify the trouble spots and understand where weatherstripping is needed.
  2. Tools and Materials: Gather the essential tools and materials required for weatherstripping. You don’t need a fancy toolkit – just a few basics will do the trick.
  3. Step-by-Step Guide: Follow our beginner-friendly step-by-step guide to weatherstripping. We’ve broken it down into simple, actionable steps to ensure success.
  4. Choosing the Right Products: Explore different weatherstripping materials and select the ones that suit your needs and budget. We’ve recommended top-rated products to make your choice easier.
  5. Avoid Common Mistakes: Learn from the errors others have made. Avoid common mistakes to ensure your weatherstripping efforts are effective and long-lasting.
  6. Maximize Insulation: Discover additional tips for maximizing insulation and making your home even cozier.

Now, it’s over to you. Take the knowledge you’ve gained here and put it into action. Weatherstrip those windows, seal those drafts, and watch as your home becomes more energy-efficient and comfortable. Don’t forget to check out our other home improvement resources for more tips and tricks.

Trransform Your Home into a Cozy, Energy-Efficient Haven

As we reach the end of our comprehensive guide to weatherstripping and insulation, we hope you’ve found the information both enlightening and empowering. Your home should be your sanctuary, a place where you can relax, unwind, and create cherished memories. It’s also a significant investment, and we believe it should work for you, not against you, when it comes to comfort and energy efficiency.

Thank you for joining us on this journey. Your dedication to making your home cozier and more energy-efficient is a commendable step towards a greener and more budget-savvy future. We wish you success in all your home improvement endeavors!

Your trust in our expertise and experiences is what drives us to provide the best guidance. Our hope is that your home becomes a reflection of your comfort, your values, and your commitment to a greener future. So, grab your weatherstripping materials, roll up your sleeves, and let’s get to work. Your comfortable, energy-efficient home is just a few steps away.

By Victoria Stone

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