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Savings and Staying Warm with Window Air Conditioner Covers

Window Air Conditioner Cover
Window Air Conditioner Cover

Air conditioners can be a gift from the heavens during sticky summer months, but as the seasons roll into cooler weather, those same air conditioners are a silent source of energy and monetary waste. Prevent energy loss, lower your heating/cooling costs, and protect the quality of your AC unit with window air conditioner covers.

Prevent Energy Loss

AC units get a much deserved break during cold months, but even when turned off they can still use up much energy. Uncovered air conditioners allow the cold outside air, dirt, dust, and other undesirables to enter the home and mix in with the warm air the heater provides. This creates an uncomfortable, inconsistent temperature throughout the house – some rooms are too hot, others too cold, and if you’re lucky at least one room will be just right. Air conditioner covers prevent energy loss by blocking the flow of air into and out of your home.

Energy loss does not only affect the house – it can be a drain on the energy bill as well.

Stop Money From Pouring Down the Drain (or flying through the air conditioner)

How much of your energy bill do you think is due to heating and cooling alone – under or over 20%? Believe it or not, 43% of your energy bill is devoted to keeping the house warm or cool. Along with other insulation solutions, you can erase 20% or more off energy costs with window air conditioner covers. When installed properly, AC covers keep the unit from acting as a source for air leaks.

Though less energy waste is the ultimate reason to use AC covers, it is not the only one. AC units also need protection from damages.

Protect The AC Unit From Damages

Overly heated rooms mixed in with the cold air coming through the AC can cause dampness, which leads to mold and mildew. Removing the mold and mildew will require one of three options:

  • Go through a lengthy process to remove the mold and mildew yourself
  • Hire a professional for the removal
  • Get a new unit (not recommended)

While it’s less pricey to do it yourself, the process takes a while and calls for removal of some parts in order to reach moldy areas. Window air conditioner covers are waterproof, making it easy to protect the air conditioner (and your health) from damages. Plus, the only manual labor involved will be installing the cover.

How to Install Window AC Covers

Even the less crafty of us can install an AC cover. All you need to provide is measuring tape because cover packages come with rest: fabric cover, plastic waterproof sheets, adhesive tape to secure the cover, and instructions.

Measure your AC unit to ensure that you purchase the right size for your air conditioner then follow the instructions for the cover.

No longer do cold weather months have to wreak havoc on your AC unit. Stop the energy waste, the sapping of your money, and the discomfort in your home by installing air conditioner covers.

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Smoke Pencil: What it is and How it Helps Save Energy

Smoke Pencil
Image courtesy of Suwit Ritjaroon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
While it may sound like the latest craze in runway makeup, the smoke pencil has benefits far beyond the superficial.

What does it do?

Resembling a gadget straight out of a 1980’s sci-fi flick, this battery-operated machine uses smoke to help homeowners and HVAC contractors find air leaks and drafts in the home. To use this device, turn on the smoke stick in the area you suspect of leaks and watch the movement of the smoke to determine if there are any cracks, gaps, and the like.

How does this help me save energy and money?

Putting a smoke pencil to use will help you locate one of the biggest, silent problems on your energy bill: air leaks. Drafts, air leaks, gaps and little cracks:

  • Serve as a “vacant” sign for critters
  • Allow air to flow in and out of your home – leading to an inconsistency of comfort during extreme weather seasons
  • Cause you to lower/raise the thermostat to create a feeling of balance in the home – as your energy bill rises creating a feeling of hostility towards your energy provider

Once the smoke puffer has located the problem areas, you can get to work insulating your home and lowering your energy needs. A properly sealed house can slice 20% or more from your energy bill.

Is it safe for a homeowner to use, or only energy professionals?

There are different types of smoke sticks, and some use dangerous chemicals to produce smoke. The smoke pencil pro is actually very safe for anyone to use. The smoke is made of Glycol and Glycerin vapor that is not toxic and actually gives off a sweet smell. No protective gear is needed to operate this smoke machine, and you can produce as much or as little smoke as you need without the worry of toxins and pollutants entering your system (at least not from the smoke stick).

What accessories do I need in order to make the most use of it?

At the most basic level you need:

  • The smoke pencil
  • Batteries to operate it, and
  • The smoke liquid

You would also need a screwdriver or something to open the area where the batteries are placed in the machine. If you want more control over the smoke, like a smaller stream to come through the smoke puffer, you would need an adapter tip. All of these accessories (with an added carrying case) can be found in a field kit if you don’t want to purchase them separately.

Finding air leaks has never been more important for your home’s comfort level, energy usage, and the numbers after a dollar sign on your energy bill – benefits that go way beyond the superficial.

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3 Places to Insulate with an Attic Stairway Cover

Stairway Cover
Stairway Cover

Creaky, drafty attics certainly have a place in the world of horror flicks, but that draftiness does nothing for the homeowner. Three often overlooked sources of poor attic insulation are the stairs, knee wall doors, and the scuttle hole access. Using a stairway cover is one way to shield all three of those areas from causing inconsistent temperatures in the attic and a bigger (much scarier) problem on your energy bill.

Attic Stairs

It may seem insignificant, but that large hole in the ceiling does nothing to stop air leaks. Attics stairs usually take up 10 sq.ft. of the ceiling, leaving a huge gap around the opening for air to swim on through. Installing a stairway cover requires a little bit of work but yields obvious results.

Knee Wall Doors

When building an attic under a sloped roof, that sloping creates an oddly shaped space underneath it. The shape is like folding a piece of paper in half, laying it flat, then lifting the top halfway up – simply put, a sideways triangle. A knee wall is basically a short wall that creates a room out of that space. To get in and out of that area (naturally), you need a knee wall door. Sometimes a knee wall door can lead to a space that is outside the home (usually the area is there to ventilate the roof), giving opportunity to air, critters, and who knows what else to make its way into your home. Properly sealing knee wall doors should definitely be a high priority on your insulation list.

Scuttle Hole Access

The attic scuttle hole is small, usually 2′ x 2′ entrance way to the attic. If a home doesn’t have stairs that lead to the attic, then the only way to get into it is through a scuttle hole. Just like with attic stairs, the area around the scuttle hole is where the damage occurs. A stairway cover or attic cover will work just as well on attics that only have the scuttle hole access; you’ll just need less material.

 

Now the attic can still be a scary place but insulating it doesn’t have to be. To minimize stress with this DIY project, use the right tools, wear protective gear if needed, and read the instructions before working with insulation products.

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How to Insulate that Folding Attic Stairway

So you have an attic on the top level of your house and it’s leaking gobs of cold air out in the winter making 2nd floor of your house frigid. How to fix it? In this 3 part Attic Insulation series, we will investigate 3 solutions for insulating your folding attic ladder/stairway. Each solution has its own unique strengths. We hope to help our readers find the best solution that fits their needs.

THerma dome attic stairway cover
Thermadome

Solution 1: The Thermadome by Yankee Insulation Products: an insulated cover for your folding attic stair way. Since it’s constructed out of a durable laminated foil urethane insulation, it provide a very high R-Value of 13.6. The foam gaskets and velcro ti-downs around the product provide continuous draft seal. The inside dimensions of 27″W x 57″Lx10.5″H are spacious enough to accomodate most attic stairway openings. Assembly is straight forward, all you need to do it to caulk/glue all the pieces together. So if you’re looking for a solid, rigid, high R value solution, the Therma-Dome attic stairway cover will do the trick.

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Get the Most Out of Polyurethane Foam Insulation

Polyurethane Foam
Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam has been around since the 1970s, but its use has recently exploded with more and more people jumping on the conservation bandwagon. DIY spray on insulation is a simple, cost-effective solution to air leaks in the home, blocking air intrusion and escape at the same time. In order to get the most out of foam insulation, here are a few bits of information to keep in mind.

What Foam Do you Need?
The biggest factor to consider when deciding which foam to use is simply this: how much area do you need to cover? Both the high expansion foam and low expansion foam expand to cover the area where sprayed, but they differ in a few ways as well.

High Expansion Foam
High expansion foam covers larger gaps, cracks, and the like than low expansion foam.  It also expands 30x when sprayed at 1″ thickness, so I’d advise against spraying liberally.

Low Expansion Foam
In contrast, low expansion spray foam is best used on smaller gaps and only expands by 10%.

How to Use the 2-tank Foam System
The 2-tank foam system makes installing foam insulation an easy do-it-yourself project, so as with any DIY project, make sure to wear protective gear.

In the 2-tank foam system, Tank B must be warmed up to make it the same creamy consistency as A; this allows for an even stream of foam. A few methods for warming Tank B include:

  • Keeping it in a warm room
  • Putting it in a tank warmer
  • Warming the tank in an electric blanket

The 2-tank system uses high expansion foam, so remember that spraying 1″ of thickness will expand 30x.

Which Rooms Need it the Most?
When installed in the most drafty, gap-ridden areas in the home, polyurethane foam insulation can save you up to 20% on cooling and heating costs alone. So which areas have the most potential for energy loss?

Attic and Garage
These areas typically suffer from poor insulation, making it easy for winter and summer to wreak a lot of havoc. Attics and garages can sometimes reflect (and even magnify) the temperature outside. Their main source of insulation problems come from the ceiling and walls; check there first before going over the rest of the room for any missed gaps and cracks.

Basement
Basements often deal with humidity, which can lead to mildew and mold. First, make sure the basement receives proper ventilation, then seal all the air leaks. For basements, air leaks can be found around areas that lead outside, like air vents, ducts, and pipes.

Home Exterior
It may not seem like a big deal, but exterior gaps can cause just as much insulation problems as the ones inside. Dryer vents and water faucets (with hoses) are unexpected culprits of air leaks and can also contribute to that inflated energy bill you see each month.

Applying polyurethane foam insulation will help you control the temperature in your home and finally get a better grasp on the outcome of your energy bill.

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How and Where to Use Black Foam

Black Foam
Black Foam

Need an outside solution to poor insulation? If you’re a fan of DIY projects that take less time, require less energy, and cost less money than your weekly commute, consider black foam – an easily installed, quick and efficient sealant.

How to use Black Foam
A foam applicator gun is required to apply this foam. Can sizes vary, but you can typically expect a 750 ml canister to provide enough foam to insulate 2,820 cubic inches (or 1,200 linear feet) when dispensed at 1/2″ bead. Within 10 minutes it’s tack free and ready for trimming in 30 minutes.

Where to use it
As a closed cell, low expansion, rigid foam, it’s most often used to seal cracks and other small openings from home exteriors. Black foam is generally considered an outdoors sealant because:

  • Its black color makes it easily disguisable outdoors
  • It never gets dirty (a quality many prefer indoors as well)
  • It can stop gas, insects, pests, smoke, water and much more from entering your home

Though this type of foam is usually used outdoors, it can be used in attics, basements, and to seal up doors and windows.

Advantages
Among the many reasons to use black foam, it:

  • Can be purchased for under $20 per unit
  • Can be painted and sanded to match surroundings (painting can actually extend its life)
  • Resists solvents and water
  • Puts up a good fight against getting hard over time

The biggest advantage of using this type of foam is that it properly insulates your home, and that allows you to save money on energy costs while creating a comfortable environment in your home.

 

You’re getting a high quality product for less than you spend on coffee in a week with this foam; it isn’t just a simple DIY product. Many professionals such as contractors, roofers, and even pest and wildlife control specialists use it to create a properly insulated environment along with stopping bugs and rodents from becoming unwelcome guests.

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Stay Warm and Save with Window Air Conditioner Covers

Window Air Conditioner Covers
Window Air Conditioner Cover

During the hotter months of the year, there is often nothing more comforting than knowing you have a working air conditioning unit. If this unit is of the indoor wall variety, that comfort can easily become an annoyance as cold weather sets in. Drafts can easily enter the home through these units, which not only causes heat loss and discomfort, but raises energy bills as well. Installing window air conditioner covers helps you stay warm and save money on energy this winter.

How the Covers Work

Window air conditioner covers come with a fabric cover, waterproof sheets (windblock liners), and a roll of tape. The fabric has an insulating fiber on the inside, and is designed to fit perfectly over the unit. The sheets are taped to the unit to protect the seal from inclement weather conditions and keep the air waterproof. In addition, this layer prevents cold air from coming into the room through the air conditioner. In doing so, the insulation is saving energy, by reducing the amount of energy the heating unit requires to warm the home up. In turn, this leads to savings on energy costs.

Choosing the Right Size

Indoor air conditioners come in a variety of sizes, and so do covers. Before purchasing a cover be sure to measure your wall air conditioner. There are three different size air conditioner covers, and they allow about 1″ of give for each unit:

  • Small: From 12″ x 14″ in height and 18″ to 21″ in width
  • Medium: From 15″ to 17″ in height and from 22″ to 25″ in width
  • Large: From 18″ to 20″ in height and from 26″ to 28″ in width

Installing Window AC Covers

All you need to install window air conditioner covers besides the items they come with is a pair of scissors. Important to keep in mind is that the tape holds best when the temperature outdoors is above 35°F.

  1. Unplug the air conditioner and wrap the electric cord as tightly around the front edge of the unit as possible. Hold it in place using a 3″ piece of tape.
  2. Measure the width and height of the unit, adding 6″ to each measurement. This is the measurement you will use when cutting (with scissors) the windblock liners.
  3. Place the windblock liner over the front of the air conditioner, allowing it to overlap by 3″ on each side. For the best results, make sure the windblock also covers the electric cord, plug, and the place on the unit where the cord exits.
  4. Fold and tape square corners, then use the tape to hold the complete edge of the liner to the unit. Make sure that the tap overlaps so half is attached to the liner, and half is attached to the air conditioner.
  5. Place the fabric cover over the air conditioner.

 

By insulating the window AC unit, there will be less outdoor air interfering with the temperatures inside the home. Limiting the places where drafts can enter the home results in gaining more control over home temperatures, reducing the amount of energy and heat lost, and spending less money to keep yourself and your loved ones warm this winter.

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Keep Cold Air Out and Warm Air In with Plastic Windows

Plastic Windows
Plastic Windows

As the year draws to a close, people are planning various parties, decorating their homes, and coming up with resolutions they’re sure to break within the first few months of the new year. It also happens to be during this time of the year that many see a dramatic increase in the amount of money paid for energy, specifically for heating. This is due largely to poor insulation, which allows the air from outside to make its way into the home. One of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to reduce this problem is by installing plastic windows.

Keeping Cold Air Out
Windows make up anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent of home heat and energy loss. You may be wondering how an item that sounds as simple as a plastic window could possibly eliminate this loss, or even lower the amount. The plastic film is also an insulating film. When correctly installed over the face of the window, it blocks cold air from entering the home through windows, which will also stop the warmer air from leaving.

Types of Plastic Windows
Plastic windows, also referred to as interior storm windows, come in two different styles: those with channeling, and those without.

Channeling: This type of interior storm window comes with plastic channeling, clear film, and adhesive. The channeling coupled with the plastic gives the appearance of placing a new window frame over the existing one.

Without Channeling: Storm windows without channeling include only the insulating plastic and a roll of tape. Although it has less components than the windows with channeling, it has more steps for installation.

Both types are also cost-effective. Storm windows without the channeling cost approximately $3 to $6, while storm windows with channeling are valued at $9 to $15. They are available for a variety of window sizes, so be sure to take measurements before making a purchase.

Installing Storm Windows
Installation of the window kit with channeling can be completed in a few simple steps:

  1. Attach plastic channels around the frame of the window.
  2. Over the face of the window, spread the plastic insulation film.
  3. Using the thin plastic strip (the spline), hold the plastic in place, and lock it into the channel.
  4. Trim the channels and spline if necessary using a utility knife. The plastic film can be trimmed with scissors.

Installing plastic windows without channeling can be completed by doing the following:

  1. Clean around the window surface’s edge, and allow it to dry.
  2. After a 10-minute wait, place the tape around the edges
  3. Cut the plastic film in a way that allows there to be a 2-inch overlap on either side of the window.
  4. At the top of the window, press the plastic against the tape lightly, and gently stretch and press the film at the bottom. Carefully repeat this along the sides.
  5. Once set, press the plastic film firmly against the tape.
  6. Using the highest setting on a hair dryer, pass it over the film. Make sure the dryer is being used at a 1″ distance, and never comes in contact with the plastic.
  7. The film should shrink until all wrinkles appear.
  8. Trim away any excess film with scissors.

 

Once the window insulation has been installed, you won’t have to worry about cold air coming in through your windows while heated air leaks out. Also, with 10-25 percent of heat loss eliminated from energy costs, the fear of higher energy bills this winter will also be pushed to the back of your mind.

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Sealing Gaps with Exterior Door Weatherstripping

Exterior Door Weatherstripping
Exterior Door Weatherstripping

Call them cracks, gaps, leaks or however you want to see it, but any opening that allows air through the door adds stress to your energy bill. Prevent air leaks by sealing gaps with exterior door weatherstripping. You’ll gain control over the energy usage in your home while trimming the energy expenses off your utility bill.

Do you need weatherstripping?
It doesn’t matter if the crack, gap, or hole is micro-sized or big enough to slip a few magazines through; any air leak takes the comfort out of your home and costs you extra in heating and cooling expenses.

Test for air leaks
If the sunshine outside is spilling into your home through a closed door, you have an air leak situation. Another way you can tell is if rain always finds its way inside your home through doors even when the door is closed. Easily combat this issue by installing exterior door weatherstripping.

Q-lon weatherstripping
Q-lon is an type of weatherstripping that is installed on the top and sides of doors. It is backed with aluminum (metal/steel), vinyl (PVC), or wood and made of polyethylene-clad urethane foam. Available in white and brown colors, q-lon is specifically made to fit different door types:

  • Aluminum – Made for metal doors
  • Wood – Made for wooden doors
  • Vinyl – This type can be used on most home doors

This type of weatherstripping seals up to 1/2″ gaps on standard doors and can be cut to fit smaller doors.

Reasons to seal
Energy Usage/Money Waste
On average, exterior doors are responsible for roughly 11 percent of all energy loss in the home. You close the door hoping to keep out the heat or cold, but all of that air still gets in. This:

  • Causes inconsistent temperatures in the home
  • Raises your energy bill. Every increase/decrease in degree that you turn up/down the AC or heater causes you money.

Block Unwanted Guests
Well, sealing only keeps out the type of guests that can squeeze through a closed door. Bugs and other critters are always on the hunt for ways to enter your home. Installing exterior door weatherstripping leaves one or two less ways for them to invade your home.

Sealing door exteriors is a simple solution to a costly and energy-stealing problem.

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3 Easily Installed Weatherization Supplies for Windows

Weatherization Supplies
Weatherization Supplies

It might be days before Halloween, but already there’s a chill in the air. Prevent that chill from becoming an unwelcome guest in your home by sealing up your windows. Follow these simple steps to install weatherization supplies like rope caulk, V-seal weatherstrip, and Shrink and Seal window kits and you’ll provide an instant sealing benefit to the windows in your home.

Installing Rope Caulk

  1. Clean: For the rope caulk to achieve its maximum level of stickiness, clean up the surface of the area where you’ll install it. Dirt, grease, moisture, and even old pieces of caulk should be cleared up if you want the rope caulk to seal effectively.
  2. Peel: Carefully peel off the top layer of rope caulk “beads.” Separate each bead, or individual cord of rope caulk, according to the width you need.
  3. Press to Seal: Firmly press the caulk into any cracks, gaps, and openings to seal them up.

Bonus use of rope caulk: Aside from being easy to install, rope caulk is easy to clean up, leaves no mess, and it stays durable in any weather condition.

Installing a V-Seal Weatherstrip

  1. Clean: As with many weatherization supplies, you need to clean the area where you’ll install the V-seal weatherstrip. Measure, Then Cut: Measure the length of the window you’re sealing. Then, cut the amount of V-seal needed.
  2. Shape: The V-seal weatherstrip has a seam running down the middle to help you easily create the “V” shape for installation. Just fold the strip vertically right down the marked line.
  3. Peel and Seal: Peel off the the V-seal’s adhesive backing. Press the V-seal into the corner of the window to seal.

Installing a Shrink and Seal Window Kit
Seal your entire window with a Shrink and Seal window kit.

  1. Clean: I really can’t stress enough about the importance of this. Clean the area where you plan to install the Shrink and Seal window kit. It’s also useful to wash the insides of the window since you won’t be able to wash them again until you remove the shrink-film.
  2. Cut Shrink Film: Hold up the shrink-film over the entire window to see how much film you’ll need to seal it off (part of window frame included). Cut the amount desired.
  3. Install two-sided tape: Remove one side of the tape and place it on window sides, top, and bottom. Then, once you’ve installed the tape, remove the the backing from the other side.
  4. Installing shrink-film: It’s easier to work with the shrink film if you start from one corner then work your way around. Gently stretch the film as you apply it to each corner of the tape.
  5. Tighten the film: Put your blow dryer on the highest setting. Standing a few inches away from the window, move your dryer back and forth, up and down, and diagonally across the shrink-film to make it tighter. Don’t keep the dryer on one area for too long because the plastic will melt if too much heat is applied to it.
  6. Cut: If needed, cut away any excess shrink-film.

Each one of these weatherization supplies comes with a different set of instructions, but all will help to properly insulate your home, decrease your energy usage, and save you hundreds (and then some) off your energy bill.