Conduct a Home Energy Audit Part 1: Locating Air Leaks

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Pearland - Maggie McFarland

Energy Efficiency


The summer months can be brutal on your utility bills! In fact, a friend of mine was complaining yesterday that her water bill and electricity bill was $172 and $174 respectively. That adds up quick!

So how can you determine where you are wasting energy? Simple! Conduct a home energy audit!

That's why I am doing a Four-part series on conducting your own home energy audit to save money. There are a lot of great resources online to help you conduct a home energy audit. For this blog series purpose, I am utilizing government energy resources to help readers learn some "do it yourself" energy tricks to save money! lists several ways to conduct your own home energy audit to determine energy waste and thereby, save you money! Here are a few examples:

Locating Air Leaks

First, make a list of obvious air leaks (drafts). The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward. Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Check to see if air can flow through these places:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Switch plates
  •  Window frames
  • Baseboards
  • Weather stripping around doors
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Attic hatches
  • Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners.

window caulkingAlso look for gaps around pipes and wires, electrical outlets, foundation seals, and mail slots. Check to see if the caulking and weather stripping are applied properly, leaving no gaps or cracks, and are in good condition.

Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. See if you can rattle them, since movement means possible air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks. You can usually seal these leaks by caulking or weather stripping them.Check the storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken. You may also wish to consider replacing your old windows and doors with newer, high-performance ones. If new factory-made doors or windows are too costly, you can install low-cost plastic sheets over the windows.

If you are having difficulty locating leaks, you may want to conduct a basic building pressurization test:

  1. First, close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.
  2. Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
  3. Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.

This test increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to waver, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.

On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet, including:

  • All exterior corners
  • Where siding and chimneys meet
  • Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

You should plug and caulk holes or penetrations for faucets, pipes, electric outlets, and wiring. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding, and seal them with the appropriate material. Check the exterior caulking around doors and windows, and see whether exterior storm doors and primary doors seal tightly. 


This is a great way start to managing your home's energy efficency! Stay tuned for Conduct a Home Energy Audit Part 2: Insulation.

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Steve, Joel & Steve A. Chain
Chain Real Estate Investments & Mortgage, Steve & Joel Chain - Cottonwood, CA


Great post; in our area it's reported that ducted systems leak an average of 30%. As you say, that adds up fast.


Jul 09, 2011 12:16 PM #1
Maggie McFarland
RE/MAX Pearland - Maggie McFarland - Pearland, TX
Pearland Realtor, Homes for Sale in Pearland Texas

Wow Steve - that's a big number! We're in South Texas so leaking air - especially in the summer months is expensive!

Jul 09, 2011 12:43 PM #2
Hrisco & Associates
Hrisco & Associates | eXp Realty, LLC. - Roanoke, TX
-"When Experience Matters - The Agent You Need!"

Hi Maggie, some great tips on energy audit for your house, will bookmark for future use....looked it and and here you go...there are about 4 locations for FishCityGrill around Houston and you lucked out....check it out.  You definitely have to check it out....enjoy and let me know how it went.

Fish City Grill
Pearland Town Center

11200 Broadway
Suite 380
Pearland, Texas 77584

Monday thru Thursday: 11am-10pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am-11pm
Sunday: 11am-9pm

Map | Driving Directions
View Menu

Jul 09, 2011 05:15 PM #3
Maggie McFarland
RE/MAX Pearland - Maggie McFarland - Pearland, TX
Pearland Realtor, Homes for Sale in Pearland Texas

Oh my gosh!!! I didn't realize that was the SAME one your were talking about!! That is right around the corner from me! It just opened recently! Thanks!!

Jul 10, 2011 03:03 PM #4
Air Conditioning Service Pearland

Really thanks author for nice site and great discussed to local air.

<a href="">Air Conditioning Service Pearland</a>   

Mar 28, 2012 11:36 PM #5
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Maggie McFarland

Pearland Realtor, Homes for Sale in Pearland Texas
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