3 ways to keep your home comfy and save on energy bills all year long

With agreeable weather, a can-do attitude and some time on your hands, now may just be the time to attack some of those home improvement projects you’ve always wanted to do. One cost-effective job that many homeowners take on at some point is to better insulate their home.

Not only does the project not take a lot of time, but upgrading the insulation in your attic can totally be worth your while because it will allow your home’s air circulation to work more efficiently. And the best part? It’s actually a cost-saving endeavor because, as we all know, the more energy our home wastes the higher our heating and cooling bills.

Here are 3 ways you can insulate your home for less

Whether you’re in a DIY kind of mood or in the market for a contractor, there is much to know about insulating your home the right way.

Home improvement guru Dave Baker of TheHomeFixItPage.com has some timely money-saving tips on how to improve air circulation in your home.

Do a blower door test to find the air leaks in your home

Dave says the first thing you need to do before you decide on which insulation projects your home could benefit from the most is to perform a blower door test.

The thing about blower door tests is that they shouldn’t cost you a thing. “Good heating and air companies and insulation companies will come to your house and do it for free,” he says.

Here’s what a blower door test entails: “They’ll open up your front door and they’ll put this big sheet around it with a fan that blows out of your house. They’ll turn it on, they’ll blow the air out of your house and you will find every leak of air that comes out of your house because it will be sucked through the fan,” Dave says.

Don’t be surprised if you find leaks around several windows, doors and your attic, he says. Once you identify where the air is entering and escaping your home, that will set you up for the first and easiest step…

1. Save money by caulking around small leaks

Weatherproof your windows and doors simply by using caulk. Dave says the key is to caulk all the way around your window, not just a portion.

“A lot of times, painters will come in your house and paint, but they won’t caulk all the way around because they can’t reach all the way around,” he says. “You need to get a little step stool or a little ladder and caulk all the way around the inside of your windows.”

That is an inexpensive way to seal the air out of your windows and doors – and you can save money by doing it yourself.

2.   Hire a contractor to put insulation in your attic

If you have air leaks in your attic, this is where you’ll likely need a professional. “The most expensive thing you can do is to put spray-in foam insulation in your attic,” Dave says. “You can’t do that yourself.” Foam will make your whole attic area look like a cave — but you can’t beat it, he says. “That is the single best insulation you can put in your house. It will seal all the cracks and leaks in your attic.”

There is a less expensive option when it comes to foam, Dave says. “A good insulation contractor will come in and find where all the leaks are and they’ll use the spray foam just for the leaks. Then they’ll add more blown-in fiberglass insulation on the floor of your attic. That is very good, too and is the second-best thing you can do to save money because it’s going to be less expensive than the whole foamed attic.”

3.   DIY time: Add more insulation yourself

“The third thing you can do, and this is not quite as good because you’re not sealing all the leaks, is just to add more blown-in insulation in your attic,” Dave says.

“Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you stick your head up in the attic and you can see the joists on the floor of the attic, you don’t have enough insulation, you’re not even really close,” Dave says. “Twenty inches [of thickness] is a good number [for] attic insulation.”

Foam insulation: Is it REALLY worth it?

In many cases, insulating your attic with foam can cost upward of $5,000-$6,000 — not cheap. But you may be wondering if it’s worth the cost in energy- and money-savings over the long haul.

Dave says the payback period is shorter than you think. He says he had full-blown foam insulation done to his home. “I took meticulous notes and almost every month was the same: You’ll save 29% in the first year,” he says. “The months following have stayed at that level, which means the foam holds its own month after month.”

That means that if you’re paying $400 a month on your energy bill, you’d be saving 30% of that — about $120— every 30 days. If you multiply that by a year, that’s more than $1,000. After about five or six years, the system will have more than paid for itself, Dave says. And the good thing is that the foam doesn’t degrade, it keeps its quality year after year.

A well-insulated dwelling can be the difference between a house and a (comfy) home. But you may be wondering: What temperature should I keep the thermostat on? Here's the magic number for the summer.

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