This page will give you a few things to consider as you tighten up your house.

First off, replacing leaky windows, insulating walls and replacing your water heater with a +90 are way up there on the list, but are larger investments.



So, excluding aforementioned, this list, taken in order, addresses heat loss from the worst sources first. That said, things lower on the list may be easier and less expensive to respond to, and will definitely save heat and money. Caulk can not be overemphasized!


The attic is the easiest, gives the most bang for your buck and does the most good.
Thermal resistance is measured in R’s = Resistance to heat flow.
Different kinds of insulation include:

  • LOOSE FILL, or blown-in, or dense-pack cellulose. (usually requires contractor)
  • Fiberglass batts or blankets
  • Rigid Foam
  • How much you need depends on the climate location. 50 to 60 Rs in northernmost reaches. In the U.P., that means 18 inches of cellulose. One “R” is equal to one inch of pine.


  • Blow in Loose-Fill Cellulose insulation INSIDE the walls. (usually requires contractor)
  • Using CLEAR CAULK, caulk all inside perimeters: this means the trim around windows, doors, floors and floor trim.
  • Outlet and light switches create a “thermal bridge” to the outside. Outlet gaskets are available at hardware stores.  Turn the circuit off, take off the outlet plate with a flat-head screwdriver, and put the gasket in. Replace covers, then put child protective caps into any plugs that are not in use, because those are “cold air highways.”
  • Put foam gasketing or “split-V” gasketing into the area around your door to make it a tight yet comfortable seal.
  • Install Door sweeps.


  • Caulk on the outside and Spray Foam all the cracks and holes inside the basement.
  • A more thermally effective solution is to put foam board insulation on the outside of the foundation.  It is more costly, though.
  • Do a rim joist seal!  Contact our nonprofit to come and show you how to do it, or get our exhibit in your area to teach a LOT of people how to do it.  Your area has to be the U.P., though.
  • Caulk and Spray Foam all openings in your attic, or “penetrations to your thermal envelope,” i.e. anything that goes in and out of your attic such as soil stacks, chimney, wires, etc.


  • Use the most recent compact fluorescents.
  • They last about 10 times as long as incandescents, and are up to four times more efficient (using 50 to 80 percent less energy).
  • Bear in mind that they’re made with mercury, so don’t use them in areas where they can be easily broken and dispose of them properly.


Wrap your water heater with a fiberglass jacket. They usually pay for themselves within three months. Also, insulate your hot water pipes. This is a very easy and inexpensive way to keep the water warm that you are paying to heat on its way to your spigots.


How efficient is your heating system? It all depends on how well it burns fuel and what amount of BTUs are extracted. Boilers and forced air furnaces come in varying degrees of efficiency. If you’re replacing one, consider an upgrade to the most efficient, a +90.