Cutting home energy costs

Friday, February 12, 2010

If you're looking to cut back on energy consumption, make sustainable choices and save up to 20 percent a year in heating and cooling costs, think about air sealing your home. As our brutal winter weather persists and temperatures rise and fall, homes tend to expand and contract, creating gaps that leave an incomplete "building envelope."

Air sealing is simply closing those holes and gaps. Sealing this envelope means you use less energy to heat or cool while reducing your carbon footprint derived from energy-intense HVAC systems. *Checking For Air Leaks A quick and easy do-it-yourself home energy audit includes inspecting where two different materials meet. Examine all door and window frames. Shut doors and windows on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you have a leak. Examine electrical and gas service entrances, outdoor water faucets and where dryer vents or cable lines pass through foundation walls. Hold an incense stick in front of windows, doors and where exterior meets interior. Drifting smoke indicates an area that needs to be sealed or insulated. *Sealing Air Leaks Once you determine where the leaks are located, you need the proper sealant to do the job. Make sure the sealant is permanently flexible, making them excellent sealants to handle joint movement. Make sure they're also latex-based, paintable, low odor, low VOC-content and clean up easily with water. A foam sealant can be used for larger holes and gaps, except around heat sources such as chimneys and stoves, which require a specialty sealant. Use it in a variety of locations including around windows, doors, pipes and vents. It's designed to not overexpand, so windows or sockets won't pop out. Plus, it's toolable, and cleans up easily with water. A properly air-sealed home will save you money and provide efficient comfort year-around!