Louisville experiences below freezing temperatures every winter, but the current arctic blast is unusual in how long it is sticking around! We haven't seen a cold streak this long in the last eight years. Louisville's daily highs will be below freezing for at least the rest of this week if not longer. The cold can cause a big spike in your utility bills! One of the easiest and fastest ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home is weatherstripping.
It may be hard to believe, but those small cracks and openings around doors and windows really can make a big difference in the cost of heating and cooling your home. Many don't realize a 1/8" space between the exterior door and its threshold is almost the same as having a two inch square hole in your wall! And that is just the front door! This can be easily fixed just by weatherstipping the door.
Weatherstripping can be as easy or as intricate as you want it to be. Pressure-sensitive adhesive-backed foam is one of the easiest to use and will not cost you a lot. It isn't very durable and normally only lasts 1-3 years, but is quick to install. With the temperatures as low as they are, the less time you have to stand with the door open to install it, the better! Felt has been used in many homes, but must be nailed into place. It is not as durable as the foam weatherstripping so it is usually replaced every 1-2 years.
For windows, most people like tubular gasket weatherstripping. It isn't usually used in doorways because it is very visible and cannot be painted. Paint will make the flexible vinyl tubing too rigid to be effective. You can also get foam-filled tubular gasket weatherstripping for added strength and durability.
Tension seals like spring-metal strips or V-shaped seals are available in bronze, copper, stainless-steel, and aluminum finishes. These are very durable and do not detract from the look of your doorway. They are shaped to bridge the gap between the door and the frame. When you shut the door, the shape of the weatherstripping creates a seal between the two edges of the crack. These can be tricky to install, so you may want to get some help or advice on installation.
Weatherstripping, along with other types of insulation, may be eligible for Federal Energy Credits. Authorized by the Stimulus Bill of February, 2009, qualifying purchases can yield a credit of 30%, up to $1,500 of the cost to buy and install. Most weatherstripping won't involve much in installation costs but can result in some nice credits if you are doing other energy upgrades.
Closing these small gaps can save you up to 15 percent in heating and cooling costs. By reducing the demand on your heating and cooling system, you are also extending the life of your furnace and air conditioners. This is a good thing when you go to sell your home! Lower utility bills will also make your home stand out above less efficient homes!