Each year we waste energy at a very costly rate for the homeowner due to air leakage.
We all know to close windows and doors, but it is the air leakage that is not always evident that is the culprit. The DOE has made the following information available to assist us in correcting the primary causes of energy loss through air leakage.
Leakage Through Ceilings, Walls and Floors
- Electric outlets -- Install foam gaskets behind all the light switches and electrical outlet covers, even on interior walls. These simple foam gaskets help seal the holes created when the outlets and light switches are built into homes. Then use child safety plugs to keep the cold air from coming in through the sockets.
- Windows and doors -- Weather strip and caulk all visible cracks and gaps between non-moving parts of window trim, especially under the window sills. Replace broken glass and putty any loose windowpanes. Caulk around the moving parts of windows with a non-permanent caulk during the winter. This type of caulk can be easily removed in the spring.
- Wall Baseboards -- Use a clear siliconized acrylic latex to seal any visible crack or gap at the top and bottom of baseboards. Otherwise warm moist air will leak into the walls and up through the attic during cold weather.
- Other wall holes -- Seal around all ceiling fixtures, heat registers, medicine cabinets, bath tubs, kitchen cabinets, drains and water pipes where they pass through walls wall and any other holes in exterior walls.
- Fireplace Dampers -- Missing or poorly fitting dampers allow air to move freely up and down the chimney. Install a new damper or repair the existing one so it closes tightly.
- Recessed lights and bathroom fans -- Caulk around these from below with high-temperature flexible caulk.
- Air conditioners -- Remove window air conditioners before winter. If they can't be removed, seal up the area around the unit with removable rope caulk and add an AC window insulation blanket.
Monsters In The Attic and Basement
The attic and basement are the biggest air leak culprits in homes. Sealing up the air leaks in these two areas is the best guarantee for a comfortable home.
- Doors and hatches to the attic -- Weather strip the edges and insulate the backside of the attic door. Fold-down stairs can be covered with a lightweight box made of rigid insulation board.
- Holes in the attic floor -- Don't be surprised to find holes in the floor of the attic -- especially around the outside walls, ducts, recessed lights or near plumbing utilities and other outside penetration. Also, look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicates holes where air leaks into and out of your house. You can seal the holes by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edges of the plastic. Carefully check for these trouble spots.
- Around the chimney-- Any chimney that runs from the basement through the attic should be sealed at both the basement ceiling and attic floor by use of sheet metal or metal duct tape. Fire codes prohibit the use of combustible materials within 2 inches of chimneys. NOTE: Fiberglass is not an effective air barrier.
- Around the sewer vent pipe -- A sewer vent pipe typically runs vertically from the basement through the attic and should be sealed at both the basement ceiling and attic floor by use of wood, sheet metal, or metal duct tape.
- Basement windows -- Use masonry caulk to fill any cracks where the frames of the windows are set into the walls. Windows that are not used for summer ventilation or as fire exits can be permanently caulked shut. In the basement, you are likely to find air leaks around the windows, along the sill plate and band joists, and where the ducts pass through the basement ceiling.
Stop DraftsNext, weatherize the rooms that are used the most, such as the living room, family room and bedroom. Caulk around the windows, doors, baseboards, lighting fixtures and any other cracks in the walls or ceiling. These holes may seem small, but their net impact is huge. It is estimated that the accumulative effect of all the cracks and holes in the average U.S. home is equal to having a large window open.
Caulking also stops drafts and, therefore, makes the room feel more comfortable. This reduces the urge to reach for the thermostat and turn it up, which reduces energy consumption and cost.
All of these tasks are easy enough for most people to complete. If you feel some of these jobs are beyond the scope of your abilities, hire someone to help you out, or get creative and barter services with a handy friend. Home tightening products and services also make great gifts that last for years and keep giving in energy savings.
I certainly hope this information has been helpful and that you will see a reduction in home heating expense.
CONTACT ME for assistance with PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY REAL ESTATE