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(MCT)—Q: Our home is a brick rancher, built in the early 1960s, and has very poor insulation in the walls. We have had the attic area checked, and we were told that the insulation up there is good.

Our walls are cold in winter, and the heat does not keep the house at a comfortable temperature. We always feel a draft.

We replaced all the windows in 2000 with triple pane, and have installed insulation above the cinderblock in the basement to seal that area off. We removed all carpeting because of my husband’s allergies, and I think carpeting would help to keep the temperature more even.

My husband feels we need some insulation in the walls, either inside or outside. How would we go about that?

A: There are four ways to reduce heating and cooling costs and maintain a comfortable home: insulation, ventilation, moisture control, and air sealing. Doing one without the others is not enough.

Air leakage, or infiltration, occurs when air enters a house uncontrollably through cracks and openings. Even if someone tells you your attic is correctly insulated, that might not be enough.

Properly sealing cracks and openings in your home can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs.

For a thorough and accurate measurement of air leakage in your home, the Department of Energy recommends hiring a qualified technician to conduct an energy assessment, particularly a blower door test.

A blower door test, which depressurizes a home, can reveal the location of many leaks. A complete energy assessment will also help determine areas in your home that need more insulation.

The recommended strategy in both new and old homes is to reduce air leakage as much as possible and to provide controlled ventilation as needed.

Given that your house was built in the last 50 years, there might be a way to blow insulation into the walls. I’d suggest an energy test first, however.

You can Google energy testing services in the area on the Internet.

©2011 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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