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Improve Comfort and Save Energy by Sealing Air Leaks

  Improve Comfort and Save Energy by Sealing Air Leaks

The average home loses about half of its conditioned air every hour through various cracks and gaps. These openings add up to a 2-square-foot hole in the average home—that’s like leaving a window open all day, every day!

That’s why sealing air leaks is one of the most important improvements you can make in your home. These fixes are easy and cost-effective, too. Weatherstripping doors and windows is a great first step and one that likely will pay for itself within a year. However, there are less obvious sources of air leakage that can cause significant discomfort in your home.

Sealing your home keeps heated and cooled air indoors, which can make your home more comfortable and reduce your energy bill.

While drafty windows and doors are obvious sources of air leakage, there are other places where air could be escaping. Holes drilled into your walls, ceiling and attic for plumbing pipes and electrical lines can be a major source of air leaks. Outlet covers and recessed lights also can have small gaps where conditioned air can escape. Other avenues could be leaks in air ducts in unheated spaces, fireplace chimneys and attic access hatches.

To find air leaks, start with a visual inspection, checking for gaps and cracks where air could escape. Walk around your home’s exterior and closely examine where different building materials meet, such as around the foundation perimeter and around outdoor water faucets. Indoors, common sources of air leakage include electrical and water service entrances, baseboards, door and window frames, and attic hatches.

Once you find air leaks, the next step is to seal them up. The materials you need will depend on what gap is being sealed.

  • Doors and windows with gaps at the frame need weatherstripping.
  • Small gaps, such as around outlets or between the baseboard and the floor, can be filled with caulk.
  • Large gaps and holes, such as around pipes, may need foam insulation, foil insulation, sheeting or a combination of materials.