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Question: Home insulation question — insulate walls, or replace single pane sliding glass doors w/ dual pane?


Question by Christopher W: Home insulation question — insulate walls, or replace single pane sliding glass doors w/ dual pane?
Can’t afford to do both. Which might be more effective (most interested in the reasoning). The single pane doors are big, obvious energy leaks. Yet none of the thinnish (six inches?) walls on the 1-story 1500 sq. foot house are insulated. The insulation would cover a lot more sq. feet than the doors , so that seems to make it a contender. We’re in a climate regularly 50-65 degrees on average, but colder in winters.

Best answer:

Answer by Bambi Berkowicz
Take care of the door first. You don’t lose that much heat through your walls, but you DO through windows – even those really good ones. The other thing is that if your door is drafty, you tend to bump the thermostat up a little.

Just to be sure, you do have attic insulation, right? If not, make that your first objective, the door next, and the walls last.

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5 Responses to Question: Home insulation question — insulate walls, or replace single pane sliding glass doors w/ dual pane?

  1. CyFree

    You have a tough choice there, considering that your house is uninsulated. An energy audit would probably help you chose.

    Here’s an other idea: the senate recently passed an energy efficiency bill and states and cities all over the U.S. are getting money from the federal government for programs designed to help homeowners decrease their home’s energy consumption. These programs offer grants, low interest loans and other incentives to help you get on with the new federal guidelines for energy efficiency.
    Look around and apply for whatever is available in your area.

    There is also a US$ 1,500 Federal Tax Credit for energy efficient retrofits you might want to benefit from and that will probably pay for your new windows so you can focus on the insulation maybe?

  2. M M T

    I’d replace the door and get that issue out of your way.

    Here’s some ideas that don’t cost a lot but can save you big on energy bills.

    1. Check the caulking around all other windows and doors. If it’s not in great shape, replace it by digging out the old and replacing it with new. I did all the windows on the outside of this big old house a couple of summers ago and our heating bill was reduced by nearly 1/3.

    After you get the outside done, check the caulking on the inside also.

    2. Do the other windows seal tightly? If not weather stip or use those storm window kits that are double stick tape, heat shrink plastic and cover the windows. These are easy to put up and really do help. Warning, don’t buy the cheapest ones you can find. The tape doesn’t stick and the plastic sheeting won’t shrink smoothly so you get a nice looking result.

    3. An insulation alternative. Check the link below. It’s for an insulating paint additive that you stir into any paint and two coats of the paint with the product in can increase the R value by something like 35%. We have an old double plank construction house. Adding insulation in the walls is not an option. Can’t afford to have the old siding ripped off and insulated and new put on. So I thought I’d give this product a try.

    I’ve used it in the upstairs bath which used to be a cold room in the winter. Two coats, I actually treated the primer with the product and then just painted over. The room was almost too warm last winter, we had to shut off one of the heat runs.

    Not only is the product insulating, it makes the paint tougher, easier to clean, bug resistent, fire resistent and other stuff. And it’s not all that expensive. I’m using the product in the paint as we go through and do each room over. Did I say the house was a work in progress? LOL

  3. wampum15

    You should have an energy audit done by a pro to see where most of your efficiency is being lost. I’d start by filling obvious voids such as around pipe and duct openings in the attic.

  4. Molliemae

    go for the insulation, also blow some in your attic and weather strip doors and windows if they feel drafty. This would fix your biggest heat loss.

  5. Roger

    Changing windows to dual glazed will save dramatically over insulation, plus adds to the look of your house, plus are easier to operate compared to older windows, plus is easier job to complete.
    To add new insulation, either the walls have to be removed from the inside and replaced and painted or holes drilled in stucco and insulation pumped in, which I know is not 100% guaranteed. I have seen the gaps in the insulation when I have removed plaster.
    Rebates from utility companies are usually available for new windows/ door replacements. Check first with your provider.
    Attic insulation is pretty easy and very effective since hot air rises and goes out through attic and roof. If you can access your attic area, you just lay it out over the ceiling joists. No stapling down, gravity holds in place. Just keep it away from hot can lights (downlights in ceiling) and anything that gets hot (furnace vent pipes, flues, ect)

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