Leaks can be a significant source of wasted energy and money. Found in almost every home are the cracks, gaps, and holes that allow the air you just paid to heat or cool to escape far too easily. A relatively easy, do-it-yourself way to increase your home’s energy efficiency is air sealing.
Air sealing is also quite cost effective – as long as you know what areas to attack with the caulk gun or insulating foam. A home energy assessment can accurately pinpoint these areas, assess your home’s energy consumption, and recommend ways to improve its energy efficiency.
While a professional home energy assessment will provide you with the most accurate results, you can conduct your own assessment by carefully walking through your home, with a handy flashlight at your side. This will allow you to spot many of the area’s in requirement of air sealing.
Leaks can be sealed with caulk, spray foam, and weather stripping depending on the problem area. When done correctly, air sealing has the potential to reduce your energy bills, increase your home’s indoor air quality, and decrease your chances for dealing with mold and rot.
Where You’re Losing the Most Air
- Ceiling, walls & floors = 31%
- Ducts = 15%
- Fireplace = 14%
- Plumbing penetrations = 13%
- Doors = 11%
- Windows = 10%
- Fans and vents = 4%
- Electrical outlets = 2%
If you didn’t know the importance of targeting these areas first, you do now! Especially since each and every one of these air leaks can cause a number of problems such as mold, drafts, and heat loss. Information source: U.S. Department of Energy.
Do-It-Yourself Air Sealing
Fireplaces: Fireplaces are notorious for drafting a lot of heated or conditioned air out of homes. Make sure you have a tight-fitting damper that opens and closes properly. Pinterest has some great ideas for DIY insulated fireplace screens.
Windows & Doors: Caulking and weather-stripping goes a long way towards combating leaky windows and doors. Using low-expansion foam, insulate around the frames of your doors and windows, and caulk where the drywall and trim intersect.
Outlets & Switches: Turn power off at the circuit breaker before proceeding. Remove face plates. Place stick-on foam outlet sealers around the outlet/switch. For best results, carefully apply spray foam around the junction box’s exterior.
Pipes & Ductwork: Use low-expansion foam or caulk to seal any wall penetrations due to pipe or duct-work. Seal all duct joints and seams using the same materials. You can also tape them. Wrap hot and cold water pipes with insulation.