Q: I live in a modern house built in 1953. 50% of the exterior walls are glass or glass swinging or sliding doors. The house is on top of a hill in one of the windier parts of CT. I am looking to slow down air infiltration and make my windows more efficient (most are non coated double glazed). I am trying to figure out how to find the best replacement doors and windows and also how to find a contractor who can install them the way they are supposed to be installed. I would also like to find a firm that could do an air infusion test to show me how leaky the house is and where the worst spots are.
A: Hello John, Thanks for your question regarding new windows and doors. Before you start, it’s a good idea to get an energy audit done on your home to find out where your home is loosing energy. Some energy companies provide this for their customers, contact your utilities company to see if they participate. If they do not, contact your local building dept.to find an energy auditor.
After the audit, get three window quotes from local companies. Windows and doors can be expensive, but be sure to get double pane glass, with a low-E coating and gas filled. Ask for the U-value of the window, and go with the windows that have the lowest U-value, as these will perform the best.
If possible, check references of the window installers and consider being present during the insulation to inspect the work. All gaps between the window frame and the framing should be filled with expansion foam specifically suitable for window installation. The foam will help prevent air infiltration around the frame.
I hope this helps, best of luck with your project.
Q: Hi. I’m trying to decide whether to use foam insulation in my attic, rafters, ceiling cavities and blown-in insulation in the walls OR to use foam everywhere. I live in Texas where its hot hot but not very cold in the
winter. What do you suggest for cost and efficiency?
Thank you, Elizabeth
A: Dear Elizabeth, Thank you very much for your question on insulating your house. We are delighted to hear that you are investigating methods for this very important step in your home process.
Both foam and blown insulation are great products and both perform well from an energy standpoint and block air infiltration.
From a cost standpoint, cellulose is usually cheaper than foam. It would be advisable to get a quote from both a foam and a cellulose company to see how much difference is in their pricing.
Cellulose is considered a “greener” product than foam, because it is made from recycled newspaper. Foam sometimes (not always) uses toxic chemical to blown the foam into the wall cavity. These chemicals dissipate after installation, but are dangerous for the installer.
Also, instead of having two different insulation installers come out, it might be cheaper to get it all done at once with one system.
Best of luck with your project!