So far our doityourself audit has consisted of listing your major energy users, checking their condition and cleaning their filters, checking the ductwork for leaks (at least the ductwork you can get at) and spending some time cleaning out the coils on your refrigerator and freezer. Now we are going to check the house for air leaks. The first and easiest thing to do is walk around the house and simply look for obvious leaks. These would be where any outside service enters the house. Examples would be where your water pipes, electrical wires, phone wires and cable wires enter the house. They should all be sealed tight. If not buy a caulk gun and some caulk and seal them up.
If you do not know how to caulk, starting outside is easier because you do not have worry so much about the mess and you can wipe your hands on the grass. Also check around all of your windows and doors and vents to make sure they are sealed. If they are not sealed, do not seal those right away. Next we go buy some incense and go back indoors.
Congratulations by the way. You have joined the green economy. Now we are going to conduct a house purification ritual from the ancient religion of conservatorium. The reason why I did not have you seal your windows and doors on the outside is because it makes it easier to find the leaks on the inside if they are not plugged. Also it is best that you do this next step when it is pretty windy and preferably cold or hot. So light your incense stick and let it get smokey. Walk around the room very slowly holding the incense stick very close to the wall and chat “I save money” over and over again”. Stop every couple of feet and watch the smoke. If it moves anywhere but up you have a potential leak. Stick a Postit Note next to it and move on (or mark it with a pen or a pencil that is easily removed).
Infiltration of cold air from air leaks around doors and windows is as significant a contributor to your heating bill as is poor insulation in the walls and ceiling. An easy way to reduce you heating bill is to reduce these drafts with simple weatherstripping.
- On a day when it’s windy outside, close your windows and feel for air leaks. You can use an incense stick for this too if you don’t mind the smell. Watch the smoke trail and if it becomes anything other than vertical, you have an air leak. Typically air leaks will be at the edges where the window is hinged, slides or meets another unit, such as between the two panels of a double hung window.
- Although you can tape plastic over the windows to seal them, this can be expensive and look bad. It can also reduce much needed light in the winter unless you use the shrink-wrap type of plastic seal. So a better and easier solution is to use inexpensive rope caulk.
- Press the rope caulk into all the joints where air is leaking.
The easiest fix here is to check for weatherstripping on the side and bottoms of the doors. Install weatherstripping on any leaking doors.
- Inspect for air leakage on the inside of the home. A candle or incense stick can be used to help locate the air leaks. Flame or smoke will be noticeably directed away from the location where air leaks are occurring. If necessary, insulate or seal air leaks around doors, windows, outlets, and other penetrations where air leaks are occurring.
On a day when it’s windy outside, close your windows and feel for air leaks. You can use an incense stick for this too if you don’t mind the smell. Watch the smoke trail and if it becomes anything other than vertical, you have an air leak. Typically air leaks will be at the edges where the window is hinged, slides or meets another unit, such as between the two panels of a double hung window. The easiest fix here is to check for weatherstripping on the side and bottoms of the doors. Install weatherstripping on any leaking doors.
Go ahead and caulk the air leaks that you find that can be handled using that material. This would be typically around windows and doors, along floors and baseboards and around some ceiling fixtures. We will talk about windows, doors and outlets tomorrow.