Even though it’s mid-November, it’s not too late to tighten up your home and hold on to some of your hard-earned money. But plugging too many holes could be bad for your health, even deadly.
":Realize your house is a system and you need air flow in and out. And you need to preserve that while you’re trying to save energy.":
Kathy Hopkins with the UMaine Cooperative Extension in Skowhegan says there are a number of inexpensive ways to fill extra holes in your home. And those gaps should be sealed before you consider major projects like new insulation.
Caulk around windows, bubble wrap, and homemade window inserts can cut back on heat loss. Spray foam can also fill gaps around doors or outlets. Even gasket covers can help.
":So all of these little bits may save 1-percent in your heating bill or 2-percent in your heating bill. But it’s 2-percent in the outlet or 3-percent in the window times as many windows as you have so you can make a fair amount of difference doing a lot of little things.":
But she warns it’s also possible to tighten up a house so much, it can’t breathe.
":You can get carbon dioxide build up and if you get sleepy in the afternoon, that might be a sign that you’ve sealed your house up too tight. You can reduce the efficiency of your furnace because it’s not getting air in for the combustion.":
":Radon can cause lung cancer. it’s one of the leading causes of lung cancer, along with smoking.":
UMaine Professor Thomas Hess says wrapping a house too tight can also build up radon. In one study, the level even doubled.
":It won’t necessarily do that every time but it happens often enough that it would be a good idea for people if they’re going to really seal a house to try to measure the radon afterwards to see if it has increased.":
Sealing windows with plastic can create another hazard, by adding an extra barrier to escaping a fire.
":We recommend that you put that on the outside because at least then it’s going in the direction you’re going to be going out. and you can push it out of the way easier than if you’re trying to pull it out of the way, toward you.":
Richard Taylor with the Fire Marshal’s Office also says space heaters and pellet stoves should be at least three feet away from anything that can burn, like furniture or curtains. Last year 40-percent of all residential fires in Maine were blamed on heating-related devices.
":It’s the one and two family homes that, of course, here in Maine and nationally that we’re most concerned with because that is where we see more people being killed or even injured by fires.":
The Fire Marshal’s Office has some important safety tips on the state website to help folks prevent fires. There’s also great information available online from the UMaine Cooperative Extension, along with a handy winterization checklist for your home.
Both of those websites are linked here.