The official start of winter is coming soon. If your home is in a chilly region of the country, the challenge is to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Here are a few simple, low-budget ideas for energy-proofing your home during the winter.
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- Install heavy curtains or drapes – Windows can hemorrhage heat. If you notice warm air escaping through your windows, try covering them with thick curtains. You could also add a layer of PVC shower curtains in between the regular curtain materials. For doors that lead outside, you could add protection by installing a curtain just inside of the door.
- Use heat-reflecting aluminum foil – When heaters are attached to external walls, they are not as efficient. You can prevent heat loss by putting reflective tin foil behind your heater or radiator. This will harness escaping heat and send it back into the room.
- Try a double-glazing shortcut – While single-glazed windows let heat out, double-glazed windows can help keep it in. Double-glazing your windows is an investment, but you can save money with a low-cost shortcut. Try attaching a layer of film to the window frame. Use double-sided tape to attach the film. The downside is that you will not be able to open your windows as long as the film is there.
- Welcome the sun – Take advantage of bright days by opening curtains and letting the sun in.
While these shortcuts can help to some degree, if you find that too much warm air is escaping your home or that your house feels especially drafty, try installing insulation. Insulating the entire house will keep it warm throughout the winter months and comfortably cool during the summer months. You will need insulation equipment to energy-proof your home. You can rent blown insulation equipment to add “blown-in” materials to your attic and other hard-to-reach parts of your home.
Cyber Monday is the online version of Black Friday and the biggest online shopping day of the year. This retail bonanza was created to give shoppers the chance to continue their Black Friday holiday shopping in the comfort of home. From their home computers or mobile devices, last year’s shoppers spent $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday.
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You could make your online Cyber Monday shopping experience a smooth one by doing the following:
- Sniff out discounts in advance – Cyber Monday retailers usually release their deals prior to the holiday. This gives shoppers extra lead time to figure out which retailers will offer the best deals on desired products. The moment the sale starts, you can be ready to start clicking buttons and placing your order.
- Be safe – Shoppers must give primary importance to online safety. Don’t purchase from a website that you have not heard of before. Stay away from deals that sound too good to be true. Make sure that the website’s URL has https:// and look for the VeriSign emblem. Update your antivirus software before Cyber Monday.
- Sign up for retailers’ newsletters – When you plan to do your shopping at a particular online store, you should sign up for their e-newsletter to stay abreast of their deals and promotions. Many retailers give subscribers special discounts.
- Compare prices – Check out comparison websites to make sure that you are getting the best deals. Mobile price comparison apps are available.
- Consider the shipping costs – One retailer may list the best price, but they may add on hefty shipping costs. Take this into account.
- Have an alternate plan – Items sell out quickly on Cyber Monday. If a particularly hot item sells out early, have a backup plan ready so you can purchase it from an alternative online store—hopefully for a comparable price.
- Watch for unconventional items – Retailers will often mark down unexpected items. For example, if you are in the market for home improvement items for projects that you intend to tackle this year, watch for deals. It will pay to buy when the price is low—even if you don’t plan to use them for a few months. You could find discounted appliances, tools, light fixtures, insulation materials, and insulation machines for sale.
Black Friday, which follows Thanksgiving Day, is the biggest shopping day of the year. It officially kicks off the holiday shopping season. And though its name implies a one-day blitz, many retailers extend their deals through the ensuing weekend.
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Stores may offer deep discounts on Black Friday on everything from clothing to toys to kitchen gadgets to home improvement products. Home and garden stores may mark down small tools, home appliances, construction materials and more. If you are looking to upgrade your home, it’s a good idea to venture out on Black Friday and snag discounts on many of the materials that you will need for your improvements.
If you are looking to enhance your home’s thermal resistance before winter hits, consider investing in new insulation material. Here are some of the most popular options for materials—many of which may be marked down on Black Friday.
- Fiberglass – This is probably the most ubiquitous insulation material on the market. Fiberglass is available as blanket or loose-fill. It also comes in rigid boards and duct insulation.
- Mineral wool – Mineral wool refers to rock wool, a man-made material made from basalt or diabase, and slag wool, another man-made material made from the slags of furnaces.
- Plastic fiber – This insulation is made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate. The fibers are similar to those found in high-density fiberglass.
- Cellulose – Made from recycled paper products, this variety of insulation is sourced from about 85% recycled materials, making it an environmentally-friendly choice.
- Sheep’s wool – This material is treated with borate that resists fire, mold and pests.
- Cotton – Cotton insulation is made of 85% recycled cotton with added plastic fibers treated with borate for flame-retardant properties.
If you work in the home improvement industry, you can find good deals on insulation equipment and used insulation equipment on Black Friday.
Thanksgiving, celebrated every fourth Thursday of November, is one of the biggest family holidays of the year. Loved ones gather to enjoy each other’s company while feasting on turkey and other Thanksgiving staples.
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Americans often welcome a number of guests in their home for Thanksgiving dinner. If you are hosting this year, you may have already started your preparations. You may be cooking up a storm, decorating your house or ensuring that you have enough seating to accommodate the dinner crowd.
If you have young children coming to dinner this year, make sure to childproof your home. The last thing you want is for anyone to get hurt. Electrical outlets must have protective covers to keep tiny fingers out. Electrical cords should be cleared to prevent tripping. Windows, doors, and stairs need to be childproofed as well.
You should make sure that your home is warm and comfortable for your dinner guests. In some cases, autumn may feel almost like winter, so you will want to make sure that your heating system is in good order. Check windows and doors for gaps that will let the cold drafts in. You should also ensure that your home is properly insulated for cooler weather. If your house is chronically drafty, you may need to upgrade insulation materials so that it is not as susceptible to the outside elements.
If you are not experienced in installing insulation, contact a professional. They can inspect your home prior to the Thanksgiving holiday and give recommendations for improvements. The professionals will have the proper installation machines and insulation accessories to make your home cozy and comfortable in the lead up to the holiday season.
Building insulation is one of the most overlooked factors in optimizing energy efficiency. Insulation technology is continually evolving. The industry still uses proven products such as fiberglass and rock and slag wool, but there are new technologies as well with rigid board insulation, cellulose, and foam insulation. Bio-based insulation products are emerging, including recycled sheep’s wool and cotton. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) continues to evaluate and encourage the use of recycled content in insulation products.
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Plants belonging to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association have been diverting about 33 billion pounds of recycled materials from wastes to be used for the manufacture of insulation materials with glass cullet. Fiberglass manufacturers have produced unbounded blown-in fiberglass, while other manufacturers have used alternative binders to make batt insulation.
Researchers have also been exploring the use of nanomaterials in insulation. A developmental study is underway to use chicken feathers in building materials such as acoustic ceiling tiles and moisture-resistant insulation and drywall.
Other countries have started using industrial hemp, a type of low-narcotic hemp, for insulation materials. Industrial hemp is renewable, breathable, and biodegradable. It has a high sound-absorption rate as well as properties to deter mold and bugs. Hemp insulation is not prone to slumping after installation.
Fiberglass has also seen major improvements. High-performance fiberglass batts have proven more effective than the standard fiberglass alternatives. They have greater density and insulating ability and are ideal for sidewalls that require high levels of insulation at more than R-21.
Insulation products like fiberglass and rock and slag wool provide superior fire protection in addition to high thermal protection performance. They also contribute to acoustic noise control when installed in wall cavities, floors, ceilings, and ductwork.
In addition to improving the insulation itself, researchers are working to advance insulation accessories and installation machines.
There are two kinds of spray foam insulation: closed cell and open cell. Both provide energy efficiency to homes and buildings. Open cell insulation is best for interior application while closed cell performs better when used on the exterior. A structure will achieve the highest level of energy efficiency when both types of insulation are used. They can be installed with cellulose insulation machines, referred to as cellulose insulation blowers.
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Here are a few of the characteristics of closed cell spray foam insulation:
- It can be applied even when the temperature is as low as 5°F.
- It is perfect for continuous insulation solutions.
- It adds strength to the wall structure and provides impact resistance.
- It has a higher R-value per square inch.
- It has very low vapor permeability.
- It can resist bulk water, making it ideal in flood-prone areas.
- It has a high bond and tensile strength.
The following are the characteristics of open cell spray foam insulation:
- It can be installed at a much lower cost and achieves the same R-value as closed cell foam insulation.
- It can achieve a higher R-value when there is no space restriction.
- It allows for bi-directional drying.
- It can be installed without the use of many materials.
- It allows for seasonal movement.
- It is both an air barrier and insulation material.
- It repels water molecules.
Closed cell foam insulation is the denser of the two types, featuring better insulation because of its higher R-value. It is more resistant to water penetration or degradation and prevents moisture build-up. Moisture in building insulation will eventually lead to bacterial growth and mold infestation, which could compromise the structural integrity of the home and the health of the dwellers.
Closed cell foam insulation has the required density to prevent the entry of air, which also minimizes mold growth by reducing humidity. Closed cell insulation resembles a solid when formed, providing additional strength to the wall structure to which it is applied.