Insulating tricks?

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
417
OH
I’ve eliminated all of the usual suspects. New windows, insulated the attics, insulated block off plate last year.

As I usually do this time of year I start thinking of ways to keep that wood heat in the house as long as possible. Today I sealed/insulated the attic hatches/doors and insulated the sill plate around the foundation. I have periodically caulked “drafty” molding/casing throughout the years.

Wondering if anyone has anyone suggestions or ideas I may have not thought of. Not looking to drop a lot of money. The windows and attic insulation took care of that for me
 

NoGoodAtScreenNames

Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2015
314
Massachusetts
Anything that pokes a hole through an exterior wall - vents, light switches etc. including on the exterior side for vents, faucets etc.

For outlets and switches they make a little pre-shaped foam that sticks to the drywall and then held by the outlet cover if you don’t want to caulk around the box.
I had a few light switches where I could feel a cold draft on the interior side. Sealing made a difference.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bushels20

Mech e

Feeling the Heat
Feb 26, 2019
323
NorCal
www.dtengineer.com
If you can get your hands on a FLIR camera, it is a great tool to walk around the house (inside and out) to find heat leaks. You will be able to see wall studs and ceiling joists, missing insulation, leaks around doors and windows, etc. It is a great tool.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
658
Texas
Anything that pokes a hole through an exterior wall - vents, light switches etc. including on the exterior side for vents, faucets etc.

For outlets and switches they make a little pre-shaped foam that sticks to the drywall and then held by the outlet cover if you don’t want to caulk around the box.
I had a few light switches where I could feel a cold draft on the interior side. Sealing made a difference.
I'll second those little foam outlet seals. I used two packs this past year taking care of outlet plates and light switches and other penetrations, and it made a noticeable difference in feeling air leaks. I also used weatherstripping around doors that needed renewing. In our last house we replaced the sweep on the bottom of the front door with a heavy duty one, and that made a difference. It all depends where your leaks are, of course.

Do you have can/recessed lights? Those can be another area that can benefit from attention.
 

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
417
OH
I'll second those little foam outlet seals. I used two packs this past year taking care of outlet plates and light switches and other penetrations, and it made a noticeable difference in feeling air leaks. I also used weatherstripping around doors that needed renewing. In our last house we replaced the sweep on the bottom of the front door with a heavy duty one, and that made a difference. It all depends where your leaks are, of course.

Do you have can/recessed lights? Those can be another area that can benefit from attention.
I will pick up some packs of those foam outlet seals. Good idea.

Yes, have some can lights. They are in soffit in an interior room/wall however. Does that-change any thing you think?
 

woodgeek

Minister of Fire
Jan 27, 2008
4,240
SE PA
In my 1960 house the airsealing did a LOT more than increasing the insulation, and most of the air leaks were not where I could feel a draft.

They were mostly in my attic. On both sides of the top plates of the stud walls, the drywaller left a 1/8" gap on both sides, tying the attic space in to the interior wall cavities. If you add up the perimeter of all the interior walls, that was about 2 square feet of opening from my house into the attic. Add in the plumbing chase (another 2 square feet) and the inch around the masonry chimney (another square foot) I essentially had an open window (5 square feet) connecting my finished space to my attic air space. So I sealed all those (with silicone caulking) BEFORE I had a foot of cellulose blown over the top of the ancient fiberglass. If you have deep insulation over that stuff, it will still leak and bypass all your insulation.

And honestly, the attic airsealing, by itself, reduced the heating demand in my house by about 25% and made it a lot more comfortable.
 

DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
658
Texas
I will pick up some packs of those foam outlet seals. Good idea.

Yes, have some can lights. They are in soffit in an interior room/wall however. Does that-change any thing you think?
I really can't speak to what's going on inside that soffit, but I think @woodgeek gave some great examples of how air can leak between the conditioned and unconditioned areas in the home. Older can lights are notorious for it because of how they were vented to shed heat from incandescent bulbs. It just might be an area to look at when you are hunting for low-hanging fruit, so to speak. If you have an infrared thermometer and a good temperature differential between outside and in, that can give you an idea. We replaced all our old cans (some even still had incandescent bulbs) with LED retrofits, even if we weren't sure that the particular light was a source of leakage. Some of ours, especially ones that vented right to our attic and didn't have the protective insulation cone, were bad.

I know you aren't looking to spend a lot of money, but you might want to check to see if your local power company sponsors energy audits or LED changeovers. We paid to have an energy audit done our first winter here, and it was very helpful to us, but it wasn't cheap. It told us a lot about where to direct our energies in making improvements.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,494
Northern NH
The obvious question is have you had an energy audit done that includes a blower door test?. The goal of a typical energy audit is to identify the heat loss points and then prioritize them with respect to payback. On my newer home, the big air leaks were can lights sticking into the attic, a large "florida fan" going through to the attic and surprisingly a lot of leakage from my walls at the junction of the floor to the wall. I also had a surprising amount of air leakage in through exterior wall outlets and of course the basement boxes and sills.

I had fairly tight house to begin with, be aware that once you tighten the palce up indoor air quality can go down especially if you have unvented gas appliances like a kitchen range in the house, The current design approach is over seal the house so its way to tight and put in an air to air heat exchanger to introduce outdoor air somewhat preheated by stale air exhausted from the house.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Bushels20

Bushels20

Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
417
OH
The obvious question is have you had an energy audit done that includes a blower door test?. The goal of a typical energy audit is to identify the heat loss points and then prioritize them with respect to payback. On my newer home, the big air leaks were can lights sticking into the attic, a large "florida fan" going through to the attic and surprisingly a lot of leakage from my walls at the junction of the floor to the wall. I also had a surprising amount of air leakage in through exterior wall outlets and of course the basement boxes and sills.

I had fairly tight house to begin with, be aware that once you tighten the palce up indoor air quality can go down especially if you have unvented gas appliances like a kitchen range in the house, The current design approach is over seal the house so its way to tight and put in an air to air heat exchanger to introduce outdoor air somewhat preheated by stale air exhausted from the house.
How did you solve the leakage at the wall/floor? We have white baseboard so could caulk/paint. Or, clear caulk a very fine line at the shoe mold, maybe. That is something I wouldn’t have thought of.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,494
Northern NH
I didnt solve it, My thought was pull the baseboard molding and my radiator casings and put some caulk down.

I am way past the point of diminishing returns on investments on heating. I burn about 3.5 cords each winter with a minisplit supplying shoulder season heat with just about zero oil usage in a much colder climate than OH. I consider what air leakage I have as makeup air as I havent hooked up an air to air heat exchanger so I am probably borderline on adequate air makeup. I generate excess solar power so the minisplit and any electric space heaters I use are effectively free to run.
 

MissMac

Minister of Fire
Dec 4, 2017
651
NW Ontario
I didnt solve it, My thought was pull the baseboard molding and my radiator casings and put some caulk down.

I am way past the point of diminishing returns on investments on heating. I burn about 3.5 cords each winter with a minisplit supplying shoulder season heat with just about zero oil usage in a much colder climate than OH. I consider what air leakage I have as makeup air as I havent hooked up an air to air heat exchanger so I am probably borderline on adequate air makeup. I generate excess solar power so the minisplit and any electric space heaters I use are effectively free to run.
Do you have an outside air kit installed for your stove?
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,494
Northern NH
I have a boiler in my basement and tall interior stack. No outside air kit. No doubt when I am running the boiler I have quite a draft but the rest of the time I probably have a lot less.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
3,862
SW Virginia
A single contiguous air infiltration envelope should be created at either the interior or exterior walls. Trying to do some of both at the same time may be a waste of effort (e.g sealing siding with caulk and interior outlets with foam). This has been borne out by blower door testing though I can't find the reference right now.
An exterior envelope includes an air infiltration barrier under the siding and at doors, windows, etc. An interior envelope can be done well during new construction by sealing interior walls, outlets, etc. but is tough to do later.
I'm in a situation similar to the OP's and I have concentrated my efforts on the outer shell. I did this only after I did a bunch of interior sealing in the house only to see (with an IR camera) the cold air take an alternate path, usually under the baseboard or around window trim.
I'd suggest you fortify a single line of defense rather than spread your resources around haphazardly.

Also, you can do some pretty good testing with a simple window fan and an IR camera on a cold day. Blow the air out a window and makeup air will infiltrate elsewhere which can be seen readily with the IR camera from inside. You can also turn the fan around and go outside with the IR camera to see exterior leaks.