Are your energy bills higher than usual? Are there areas in your home that are too hot or too cold, no matter the thermostat setting? If the answer is yes, it could be conditioned air escaping through gaps in your home. Sealing those gaps is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to save your energy dollars and increase comfort.
Start by locating where air leaks are occurring. Where do you look? It could be any place where two materials meet, such as the foundation walls and the flooring, or where there's an opening to the outdoors. Particular areas of concern include:
- Gaps around exterior doors and cracked caulking around window frames
- In the basement — holes around where plumbing, wiring or ductwork penetrate exterior walls
- In the attic — gaps around ceiling fans, recessed light fixtures and electrical outlets
Once you've found the leaks, sealing them is a simple project you can do yourself with supplies available from your local DIY retailer.
Seal windows with exterior caulk. Your best bet is silicone or siliconized caulk.
- Where the window meets the frame, scrape out any existing caulk and make sure the area is clean and dry.
- Cut the tip of the caulk tube at a 45-degree angle and load it into the caulking gun.
- Run the tip slowly and evenly along the base of the crack.
- Finish by running a wet fingertip along the bead of the caulk to smooth it out.
Fix gaps around exterior doors with weatherstripping and a door sweep.
- Measure the top and sides of the door and cut pieces of weatherstripping to fit each.
- Peel back the covering from the adhesive and press the weatherstripping to the inside of the doorstop, ensuring a snug fit.
- Cut the sweep (if needed) to match the width of the door and attach it with adhesive or screws.
Locate all ceiling fans, recessed lighting fixtures and electrical outlets in the ceiling below your attic. Each of these is a potential source of air leakage. From the attic, pull back the insulation to find the cutouts and seal them with caulk or expandable foam. Check for and seal gaps around plumbing vents, furnace flues and ductwork. Also, seal the attic door or access with weatherstripping.
Air can leak out of gaps and cracks in the rim joists, where the wall meets the ceiling, as well as plumbing and wiring holes on outside walls. Caulk is best for sealing gaps or cracks that are one-quarter inch or smaller. Use expandable foam to fill gaps up to 3 inches. Fill larger gaps by cutting and stuffing pieces of insulation.
With a little time and effort, you can save energy and make your home more comfortable.