Do It Yourself: Easy Home Insulation Tips #30DaysofGOOD

Posted by Mike Senese and Jessica De Jesus

Things are easier said than done, or so the old adage goes, and we couldn't agree more. That's why we do 30 Days of GOOD (#30DaysofGOOD), a monthly attempt to live better. Our challenge for July? Do It Yourself.

Insulation can make your home more comfortable and save you money. Here are a few cheap and easy tips to help keep you cool in the heat, and warm when it's cold.

Heat transfers in three different ways: convection (the flow of air or liquid, like a drafty breeze), conduction (physical contact with something hot or cold, like touching a hot pan), and radiation (heat from sunlight or other electromagnetic waves).

During a hot summer, one of the best ways to keep your place cool is to stop the bright light from blazing through your windows. Heavy drapes will drastically cut the radiation from the sunlight. The drapes don't have to be dark, so don't worry about turning into a vampire. Temporary window tinting will further lower the intensity, but make sure to remove it before winter, as it will block the warm sunlight during those months. And if you have the ability to mount outdoor awnings, they will let ambient light keep your home nicely lit, while blocking the undesirable direct sunlight.

Convection is often the biggest offender in a cold house, especially older homes that have gaps around windows after years of settling. You'll want to eliminate these drafts. This Old House has a great list of items to help you seal cracks and minimize the cold air leakage. Squeeze caulking cord under windows to fill gaps, put a quilt over your window-mount air conditioner (or you can remove it altogether, which worked wonders in my house), and put shrink film over the entire window frame to seal the glass off entirely.

Doors can be just as problematic, especially those with a large gap underneath. Adding a door sweep or threshold with a vinyl bulb is a great way to block gusts of wind (as well as wayward critters trying to get out of the cold). The perimeter of the door can be further sealed using self-adhesive foam stripping. DIY Network has good tutorials on the installation process for those techniques and more.

An often overlooked source of cold leakage is electrical outlets. By creating an entry into the wall interior, the internal air that helps block the outside cold can make its way into the warmer house. Insulation pads and gaskets (found at any hardware or electrical store) will block that cooler air from coming in.

You can find even more tips to fix a drafty house, from easy to advanced, on this PDF from Fine Homebuilding.

Overall, a little bit of work will make the summer heat (and winter cold) a lot more manageable. And when all else fails, don't forget that a double-decker ice cream cone can work miracles in the summer, while a mug of hot chocolate does the trick in the winter.

Read more of Mike Senese's DIY tips and projects at DO IT.

We're giving away $1000 for you to share your own DIY skills with others. Participate in our Host a GOOD Workshop challenge.