Attic doors are a major source of heat loss in many homes. To stop airflow, weatherstrip the edges and insulate the back side of the attic door. Fold-down stairs can be covered with a lightweight box made of rigid insulation.
Bathroom fan fixtures can poke into the attic insulation and create a pathway for air leaks. Caulk around them from below with high-temperature flexible caulk.
Small openings on the exterior of your home can allow for significant energy loss. Caulk around openings for electric, gas, oil and water supply lines, drainage pipes, plumbing for outside spigots, cable TV and telephone cables. Dryer vents, mechanical ventilation system vents and combustion air supply vents for furnaces should also be sealed.
Weatherstrip and caulk all cracks between the wall and the window trim, especially under the window sills. Replace broken glass and putty any loose window panes. Caulk around the moving parts of windows with a strip-away, non-permanent caulk during the winter. This type caulk can be removed easily in the spring.
Plumbing stacks may run inside the walls of your home, from the basement to the attic, with openings at each floor where the pipes branch off. Use the piping runs in the basement to help you locate holes. Plug the bottom and top of the chase with foam caulk or 6ml polyethylene.
Most experts agree that caulking and weather stripping any gaps will pay for itself within one year in energy savings. Caulking and weather stripping will also alleviate drafts and help your home feel warmer when it's cold outside.
Depressurize your home to help detect leaks. On a cool, very windy day, turn off the furnace. Shut all windows and doors. Turn on all fans that blow air outside, such as bathroom fans or stove vents. Then light an incense stick and pass it around the edges of common leak sites. Wherever the smoke is sucked out of or blown into the room, there's a draft.
Whether you intend to install insulation yourself or hire a contractor, make sure that you know the guaranteed minimum R-value you are looking for. Have any contractor state that installed R-value as part of the bid. Also, prepare for the project by assessing what needs to be done to reduce air infiltration before installation. Include the cost of these added components and labor in your cost calculations. Keep in mind, too, that a tight home requires ventilation, so you may need to take another look at your bathroom and whole house ventilation strategies. Armed with all of this information, select the insulation that meets your energy efficiency, budgetary, and installation requirements. The end result will be a job well done, with energy and cost savings to tally long into the future.
There's more to soundproofing than just insulation. "Blocking" noise with a non-hardening caulk to close off airborne sound paths. "Breaking" the sound path using resilient wood studs with metal clips. Last, isolating and eliminating “vibration” with special acoustical matting that seperates the wall structure from floor vibrations. You can get all these items in soundproofing kits for both interior and exterior residential walls. Besides blocking most noise transmission, one obvious benefit is better energy efficiency, with greater “r” values.