Air leaks in your home can drastically increase energy consumption. Sealing air leaks is therefore one of the first things you should think of if you want to lower the carbon footprint of your home. A professional energy audit is the gold standard when it comes to dealing with air leaks, but by following this article you can detect and seal the most obvious leaks – the same air leaks that leaves the largest footprints in your energy bills.
To be able to detect and seal air leaks in your home, you house needs to be depressurized. This is best done on a windy and cold day, but don’t necessarily need those weather conditions to work. Follow the following simple procedure to do this:
- Switch off furnaces, ovens, air-conditioners, or similar devices.
- Make sure that every window and door in your house is completely closed.
- The last step is to provide some airflow outwards from the home by using either an exhaust fan or a dryer. If this is not possible, use a large fan in an open window to push air from the house and out this window that will create suction.
The point of these steps is to either generate an airflow out or in from the house. Since the windows and doors are closed the air has go to through leaks, which we can detect using one of the methods below:
Detecting Air Leaks
There are several ways that can be used to find air leaks, but I would recommend using the incense stick method. This is the most reliable way and this is usually how professional energy auditors assess air leakage also.
When you hold the incense stick close to a place where you suspect an air leak, the smoking coming of the top of the incense stick will either be sucked into the leak or pushed away from it (depending on if you push air into or outwards from the house).
These are some of the most typical places you should check for air leaks:
- Around the moldings of windows and door
- Holes that are used for any type of wiring, plumbing or gas pipes.
- Places where wood and brick meet.
Sealing the Leaks – Weatherstripping and Caulking
Now that you have walked around in your home, looked for air leaks on both the inside and outside, carefully noted them, it’s time to seal the air leaks. Weatherstripping is a technique that is used to seal air leaks that is great for most doors and windows, or other places where there is some form of opening/closing.
Caulking refers to a method that should be used seal cracks and gaps around framework of windows and doors, baseboards, or seal joints in certain types of piping. Silicon is often used.
If you are unsure on how to seal air leaks, drop by a retailer store that sells weatherstripping and caulking equipment and ask them for advice for the particular air leaks you want to seal. Not only will sealing the leaks reduce your energy costs, but also help sheltering your home from outside noise, bugs, dusts and moisture.
The cost of following the above guide to detecting and sealing air leaks (including the incense stick, weatherstripping and caulking material that needs to be bought) is minimal compared to what you can potentially save in the long term. That being said, if you can afford a professional energy audit and have them seal the leaks they find, the long-term gains can be even greater.
Guest article by Mathias, founder of EnergyInformative.org, a site where you can learn more about saving money by increasing energy efficiency in your house, as well as solar, wind and geothermal power. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons