Search out all drafts in your home

The severity of the local climate obviously impacts home comfort.  But, there are also a number of other factors that come into play. 

If your home is less comfortable than you like, assess the situation by searching out all the drafts. 

A wall may have a high R–value but, if sealing is inadequate, air can pass through, reducing the insulation value of the wall. 

In the past, air sealing was an afterthought and as a result, a number of air changes per hour take place in older homes just from air passing through walls. This contributes to high-energy use for heating and cooling. With energy costs rising, it is imperative to stop the exorbitant air exchanges. 

Drafts are caused by indoor air losing heat to windows and exterior walls.  The colder and taller the surface, the faster the movement.  When you sit near a cold surface, you radiate heat to the surface.  The colder the surface, the faster you radiate heat and the more uncomfortable you feel.  

Because doors are opened often, they are a major source of air leakage.  To prevent this, doors when closed should seal tightly.  

Don’t bother weatherstripping a badly hung door until the hinges have been adjusted.  To apply weatherstripping, tack each piece at the top and bottom and test how well the door closes or compresses the strip before continuing.  Remember to also treat doors leading to unheated portions of your home. 

Another area of air movement is around windows.  Windows need an airtight seal to prevent heat loss during the winter. It only takes about an hour to properly seal around a window.  

New windows usually have built-in weatherstripping, but older windows that are opened and closed frequently need an extra barrier to seal out the cold between sashes and around their edges. 

Weatherstripping cannot compensate for a warped window or a window that is badly out of plumb. Consider replacing such windows. 

Materials used to seal around windows include a polyethylene air-vapour barrier, acoustical adhesive, urethane foam insulation, fibreglass insulation, Ethafoam Rod insulation, foam gaskets, caulking, etc. 

To stop air leaks, fit thin foam gaskets behind covers on electrical outlets and switches.  Line your attic hatch with adhesive-backed foam tape. Use Ethafoam Rod or a can of urethane expanding foam to plug leaks around plumbing or penetrations in walls, ceilings and floors.  Also, force caulk into cracks in basement walls and studs, around trim and into joints between the chimney and the wall.  Also, apply aluminized tape around joints in duct runs. 

Check with your Manitoba Hydro to see if they are currently running a low-cost energy audit program for homeowners.  This should be a priority if you have high heating bills each winter.