Air Leaks that Cost You Money
Energy efficiency is an important topic for many homeowners. Not only is energy efficiency important for the environment, it also saves you money by reducing your energy bill. Things like buying energy efficient appliances and changing to more efficient light bulbs will cut costs, but there is something else you can do that will save you a significant amount of money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average home spends 48% of its energy bill on heating and cooling. By reducing or eliminating air leaks in your home, you can reduce that part of the bill and save yourself money. Air leaks that cost you money are throwing money out the window, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some easy tips to find and fix air leaks in your home.
- Unsealed Windows and Doors
Making sure that your windows and doors are well-sealed is key to preventing air leaks that cost you money. Having an energy auditor come to your home to do an inspection is the easiest way to check the seals on your windows and doors. However, you can check the seals yourself. Begin by inspecting the seals on your windows and doors. If there is an obvious gap, or if the seal looks like it is worn or torn, it needs to be replaced. If you aren’t sure, try closing and locking all the doors and windows in your home. Close the vents and air ducts. Turn on the exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchen. Take a lighted incense stick and walk slowly past each window and door, where the seals are. The smoke from the incense stick should float normally. If it start to float toward a seal, that means there is air leaking out from that seal. Do this with all external windows and doors. The smoke from the incense will show you where you should replace the seals.
- Attic Air Sealing
To find any air leaks that cost you money in your attic, start by making a blueprint of all the lights and fans that are below the attic. Lights and fans are mounted by creating an electric cutout in the ceiling, which will cause air leaks. Go into the attic and check each spot that a light or ceiling fan is. You may need to pull back insulation to see the opening. Make sure that all electric cutouts are properly sealed using either acrylic latex or silicone caulking. This will keep air from going up into that attic and help keep your home the desired temperature.
- Air Ducts
Another area that may have air leaks that cost you money is found in the ductwork. The ductwork is essentially a series of tunnels that the air from your HVAC travels through to go to various parts of your home. If there are leaks in the ductwork, the air that you are paying to heat or cool is leaking out into the space under your floor, going to waste. Because air ducts are generally tucked away, it may be hard to visually see them. For areas of the ductwork that you can see, look at the joints where the ducts connects, and make sure there is a tight seal. If you need to re-seal a connection, use mastic or sticky metal tape. If you are having trouble seeing your ductwork, have an energy auditor or your HVAC company come out to inspect it.
- Recessed Lighting
Recessed lighting can be another culprit for air leaks. Just like ceiling fans, these lights often require an electric cutout into the ceiling. You can check for air leaks using an incense stick. If you find a leak, you can re-caulk the seal or replace the light fixture with a more air-tight lighting can.
Chimneys often cause leaks because of the building codes. They require one inch between wooden frames and metal flues, and two inches from the brick chimney itself. These gaps help your chimney from overheating or catching on fire, but they also cause air leaks. To fix these gaps, you will need aluminum flashing cut to perfectly fit the gap in your chimney. This is definitely a project that requires a skilled hand, so getting in touch with your chimney inspector is probably the best way to deal with air leaks in your chimney.
Air leaks that cost you money are no joke. Not only are they cutting down on the energy efficiency of your home, they are taking dollars right out of your pocket. Taking a weekend to check for and fix air leaks will save you money in the long run and it’s worth the time and effort.
For more information on how to air seal your home and cut down on your heating and cooling bills, check out https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize/air-sealing-your-home