Seal Air Leaks to Reduce Home Energy Use and Cost

Snug House - Scarf Wrapped Around Miniature HouseA snug house is a good defense against high heating and cooling bills. Eliminating air leaks into and out of your home is a relatively low-cost way to reduce energy use and cost. According to the U.S. EPA, a 1/8” gap under a 36-inch door lets in as much air as having a 2 ¼” hole in the wall. Feeling a draft is an indication of an air leak and turning up the thermostat only pumps out more heat that is then lost through leaks and cracks.

Handy homeowners can check for air leaks and cracks and then seal most if not all leaks themselves. Home improvement stores provide advice on materials, tools, and installation techniques and may offer workshops for novices. A plethora of information is available online from professionals and do-it-yourself experts via websites, blogs, and videos. Not so handy? Find a friend or family member who is or hire a professional.

Check for Air Leaks and Cracks

The U.S. Department of Energy and ENERGY STAR offer resources for do-it-yourself homeowners. Some areas to check for air leaks and cracks include:

  • Common Home Air Leaks - ENERGY STARWindows, doors (including garage), baseboard moldings.
  • Attic hatch or door, basement rim joists.
  • Chimney openings, furnace and water heater flues.
  • Electrical outlets, switches, and water faucets (especially on exterior walls).
  • Penetrations through insulated walls, floors, ceilings for plumbing, wiring, cable TV and phone lines, light fixtures, fans, mail chutes, doggie doors, and dryer vents.

Seal Air Leaks and Cracks

There are a variety of materials and methods for sealing air leaks and cracks. For instance, a tube of white latex window and door caulking and a caulking gun could cost as little as $10. Some actions are free.
  • Close the fireplace damper when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Close curtains and blinds at night in cold weather.
  • Cracks and gaps less than ¼” wide can usually be sealed with a caulking gun.
  • Expanding or flexible foam or other types of weatherstripping can be used to fill large cracks or holes.
  • Door sweeps help keep air, moisture, and insects out. This goes for garage doors too. Draft “snakes” or even a rolled towel will help minimize door drafts.

Take energy use reduction and cost savings to the next level by performing a home energy auditSome utilities, local governments, or nonprofit organizations will provide low-cost or free home energy audits and may offer financial assistance, rebate, and tax incentive programs.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information, spark conversation, and convince people to take action to keep earth habitable for all. She believes our individual actions do matter—it all adds up.

2 thoughts on “Seal Air Leaks to Reduce Home Energy Use and Cost”

  1. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The graphics are excellent, especially the little house wrapped up in a scarf. Home Depot would like this Blog.

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