Let's start with our How to Winterize Your Home series.
First and probably most important - when you are going to winterize your home to improve energy efficiency and lower your energy bills, doesn't it make sense to start with the "Big Deals" first? It seems as though everyone wants to immediately work on the tiny insignificant things. For example it seems as though the TV pundits and On-Line Experts want you to carefully look for tiny cracks and crevices around windows and doors as the most sensible place to begin; run out and buy caulk and all kinds of weather striping material. Well, we disagree! Put the caulk away for the moment, we will get there eventually but not as a first step.
Here is what we would like you to do. Go down into the basement or crawl space of your home and find the bathroom pipes; this should be easy because the bathroom has more pipes than anywhere else in the house. The big one is the toilet and the small pipes are either the hot-water or cold-water. All of these pipes go through the floor of the bathroom in holes that have been carefully drilled and so far everything is ok. We are about to find a HUGE problem!
Take a look at today's photograph. We are willing to bet that the bottom of your bathroom tub looks like today's photograph. So, let me explain what you are looking at - all of the pipes you see protruding through the floor are part of the tub/shower's drain. The actual bottom of the tub/shower rests on the floor and as the tub is being installed a big hole is rough cut through the floor for the necessary drain. Since the "drain hole" in the floor is hidden by the tub it is almost always left that way. Now you are looking at the bottom of your bathroom you probably are looking at a HUGE hole in the floor where the drain is located. Hold onto that thought and visual in your mind!
As we examine home energy efficiency the major culprit is Heat Loss, cold air enters the home down towards the bottom and exits somewhere up towards the top of the house creating a chimney effect. That Chimney Effect moves a lot of air in and out of the house taking expensive heat with it. The greater the amount of cold air entering your home the more heat you will loose. Not only is the heat loss expensive it is really bad for the environment.
Remember, the greater the amount of cold air entering your home the more heat you will loose.
Back to the tub - that huge hole in the floor is probably the single biggest place where cold air penetrates into your home. Do you see why we suggest to put the caulk away and stop worrying about the tiny cracks and crevices? Go down in the basement and fix the huge problem that is caused by your tub/shower. This one single thing will make a huge difference.
Solutions are easy, quick, and cheap! Huge progress is seldom accomplished so quickly for such a small amount of money. The problem is easily fixed with rigid foam that can easily be cut and put in place to seal off the Tub/Shower hole. Further, if you should ever need to work on the tub's pipes it will be easy to remove the rigid foam and do whatever it is you need to do. In between the pieces of foam you might want to seal everything with caulk.
Conclusion - for less than twenty bucks and less than an hour of your time you will correct a significant problem - how easy was that!
One last thought - down in the basement there are normally all sorts of small critters. Basements are a favorite haunt for spiders and a myriad of other bugs. All of those creatures can easily crawl up into your home through the Tub/Shower hole. Isn't that a lovely thought. The rigid foam will solve this problem too.
Tomorrow we will take a look at another fix that is quick, easy, and cheap. And, we would love to hear your thoughts.