It’s a magical time here in the Sierra Nevada foothills as the snow begins to blanket the ground. It reminds me of a storybook, with tree covered hills surrounding a quaint, picturesque town as snow slowly drifts down, trimming the old buildings with white. But summers in Newcastle can be as hot as the winters are cold.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the town sees four full seasons that make it so charming to live in and give it the nickname “Gem of the Foothills.” Of course, with the exquisite contrast of seasons also comes challenges when it comes to keeping your home comfortable year round. Climates like this that experience shifts of extremely cold to sweltering weather have to consider home designs that can adapt to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Here are ways to insulate your home and help keep it the perfect temperature year round.
The Right Windows for Newcastle Homes
The eyes may be the window to the soul but the windows on your home can let in a whole lot more, like too much hot or cold air. Installing the right kind of windows is critical to proper insulation in a little foothill town with ever-changing seasons. Some window designs to consider are:
- South-facing windows: In a cold but sunny place like Newcastle, south-facing windows are ideal for capturing warm sunlight for the maximum amount of time each day. Due to the sun’s low orientation during the winter months, windows with overhangs can collect the most sun for heating. These work great for the summer months as well because these same overhangs will also block the higher orientation of the summer sunlight.
- Double insulated windows: To counter all that sunlight coming in through your south-facing windows in the summer months, make sure you have double insulated windows. They can save you as much as 25% on heating in the winter and 18% on your summer cooling costs.
- Fixed style windows: Sliding style windows like you might find leading to a patio or pool can leak air tremendously and are not your friends when trying to keep warm air in or hot air out. Where possible, install fixed windows that allow sunlight in but have a tight seal and do not open. These are great for decorative windows in living rooms or sunrooms, or combined with high ceilings where an operable window is not needed.
Sealing Your Newcastle Home Against Both Winter and Summer
The insulation in your home is like aluminum foil on a casserole. If you don’t cover the dish as soon as you take it out of the oven, you’re going to have a mighty cold meal in a matter of minutes. It’s hard for me to imagine how we survived without fiberglass insulation in our homes for so many years, as it wasn’t invented until the 1930s, but since then we have been able to maintain temperatures in our homes for far longer with its help. It provides a barrier between our homes and the harsh elements.
Some key areas to consider when insulating your Newcastle home for both the winter and summer months are:
- Attic insulation: One way to address heat gains and loss in homes that have to deal with cold winters and warm summers like Newcastle is to make sure that the highest area of your home is well-insulated. This means the attic. A thick blanket of fiberglass or blown in insulation up there can save you between 15-25% on your heating and cooling bills each year. To ensure it’s done professionally and provides maximum benefit to your home, it’s best to have an expert install it.
- Basement and crawl space insulation: Basements and crawl spaces that are unfinished are often neglected during the construction process and tend to have venting and openings to the outside. This can be a real problem when it comes to controlling moisture that collects from snow and rain, as well as maintaining a steady temperature—cold and hot air can leach up into other parts of the home. That’s why professionally insulating a basement or crawl space, and encapsulating it with a vapor barrier, is best to control your home’s climate and keep those energy bills down.
Insulating the Garage and Its Exposed Utilities
Most of us treat the garage as a storage area for our vehicles, Christmas decorations, and garden tools. It’s often an afterthought when it comes to insulation. But your garage, and piping and water heaters, also need protection from the elements. Some of the ways you can protect your garage with insulation are:
- Insulate pipes: If at all possible, pipes should be located inside well-insulated walls to avoid them bursting during freezing conditions. Any exposed piping in areas like garages should be wrapped with insulation completely, even down to the valves.
- Insulate garage doors and windows: Insulating garage doors and windows can minimize the heat gain or loss into your garage, which often shares walls with living spaces like bedrooms. Maintaining the temperature in the garage makes it easier on your HVAC unit to heat and cool your home and keep your pipes and other equipment at a comfortable operating temperature.
With over 150 years of history in this old railroad hotspot, Newcastle now enjoys a reputation for being a peaceful country town with a close commute to the big city life of metropolitan Sacramento. But while it might share the hot, sunny summers with the city, it distinguishes itself as a snowy mountain town during the winters. With this drastic swing in climates comes challenges to ensuring homes and buildings stay well insulated to keep residents comfortable and their energy bills affordable. But there are ways to ensure this year round.
With proper insulation, homeowners can protect their houses from the winter chill as well as the heat of the summer months. Placement of windows should be considered just as much as the type of insulation used in the attic and basement. Even insulation in unconditioned areas like a garage can go a long way to keeping your home cozy and your bills low. Now is a great time to consult a heating and cooling professional about ways to improve the windows and insulation in your Newcastle home.
Prepare your home for those snowy winters and hot sunny summers with the proper windows and insulation. Bell Brothers has the experience and knowledge to help you make the right choice for your home, no matter what season of the year it is.