Some homes, especially older homes, leak a lot of air. Many heating experts estimate between 30% and 40% of a home’s heating bill is due primarily to air leakage. This means some homeowners are needlessly wasting a lot of money every time they pay their energy bill. Fortunately, a lot of that air leakage can be stopped with very little cost to the homeowner.
Homeowners can significantly reduce their heating costs by following 5 simple tips to reduce the air leakage in their home.
1) Caulking - Contrary to popular belief, caulking the openings around the outside of a home does not significantly reduce air leakage. Although caulking the outside seals the home from moisture, the best way to stop air leakage into the home is by caulking openings on the inside of the home. A cheap way to reduce air leakage is to use a clear sealant to caulk along window frames and baseboards. Additionally, homeowners can use the same clear sealant to caulk around medicine cabinets, ceiling fixtures, bathtubs, water lines, drain pipes, and basically any openings in the home’s walls, ceilings, and floors.
2) Switches and Outlets - The plastic covers over a home’s light switches and electrical outlets do very little to stop air leakage from the walls into a heated room. Stopping the air leakage from a home’s switches and outlets is relatively easy. Major hardware stores carry foam gaskets that are cut to fit the inside of most types of light switches and electrical outlets. For maximum efficiency, child proof electrical plugs can be used to stop air leakage from entering through the holes of the socket.
3) Fireplace - If a home has a fireplace, the easiest way to reduce air leakage is to make sure the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use. Additionally, installing a decorative glass door on the front of the fireplace can significantly reduce the air leakage from a fireplace. If the chimney goes through the attic, any openings should be sealed with a high temperature sealant. A metal flashing should be used when necessary.
4) Attic - Adding weather stripping around the attic door can prevent a lot of cold air from entering a home. The access door to the attic can be insulated by adding either foam or fiberglass insulation to the backside of the door. Any holes for pipes or electric lines in the attic should be caulked.
5) Window Air Conditioner - If an air conditioner is left in the window all year, the air conditioner should be sealed up around the edges with caulk. The air conditioner should also be covered with some type of insulation. An insulated jacket made for a water heater can be used in the winter as a temporary form of insulation around a window air conditioner.
Reducing a home’s air leakage does not have to be expensive. By closing the openings on the inside of a home, the energy costs of heating the home can be significantly reduced. Stopping a home’s air leakage may not seem like much, but its benefits will become apparent when the monthly energy bill arrives in the mail.