How to Plug Air Leaks in Your Home and Save Money on Your Energy Bills


You have just purchased your home. Whether it is a new home or just new to you, you can save money on your energy bills by conducting a home energy analysis. The following steps will allow you to plug air leaks in your home and determine if any other energy-draining conditions exist. When conducting your home energy audit, be sure to keep a tablet and a pencil or pen with you so that you can jot down any problems you may find.

Step One – Locate All Air Leaks

According to the US Department of Energy, anywhere from 5% to 30% of your home’s energy is lost through air leaks. Sometimes these leaks are easy to find, as you can feel a slight breeze or movement in the air. A trained, home energy auditor will seal each room with plastic sheeting and use a smoke pencil to find drafts. You can apply the same principle by carrying a lighted candle or incense stick with you. When the flame flickers, air is leaking. Indoor air leaks often occur around baseboards that are not adequately fastened to the wall, at corners, and where the walls meet the ceiling and the floor. Poorly insulated windows and doors also cause air leaks. If you can rattle the windows or doors, or if you can see daylight around them, you have found a leak. Check electrical outlets, switch plates, weather stripping, fireplaces, attics, and air conditioners. Check around pipes and wiring that come into the house.

A professional auditor may also check for leaks using a pressurization test. He will close all windows and install a blower door fan to an exterior door or window. The fan pulls the air out of the room, decreasing the air pressure. Then, using a pressure gauge to determine the air pressure inside and outside of the house, the auditor can determine how whether or not the house is properly sealed. You can perform a similar test on your own. Using a window-mounted fan, pull as much of the air out of the room as possible. Then, using your lighted candle or incense stick, check the doors, windows, and other areas of each room for leaks.

Outside your home, check every area at which two different materials intersect. For example, carefully examine where the brick or siding of your home meets the foundation. Look at the area where the fireplace chimney joins the house.

Step Two – Prioritize Your List

Some leaks are easier to fix than others. If you discover a crack at the baseboards, a few nails should rectify the situation. Leaks at wall joints and ceilings need to be caulked. The same solution works for pipes and wiring entering the house. If you discover air leaks through electrical outlets or switch plates, you can increase the insulation easily. Remove the plate with a screwdriver and add a thin layer of foam insulation that has been approved for use around electricity. Replace the plate when you are done. Consider adding extra insulation around window-mounted or wall-mounted air conditioners to minimize air leaks.

Check the amount of insulation in your attic to prevent air leaks. Consider adding fiberglass insulation either to the area between the joists in an unfinished attic floor or to the attic ceiling if the floor is finished. Be careful to step only on the joists if you are installing insulation on an unfinished attic floor. The ceiling between the joists will not support your weight. Check the hatch leading to the attic to ensure that it is properly insulated.

Consider replacing leaking windows and doors. If this option is not affordable, consider adding storm windows to the exterior of your home. While not as efficient as replacement windows, exterior storm windows will reduce the amount of heat lost in the winter. If this option is also not in your budget, consider applying plastic sheeting to your windows when the weather cools. The sheeting will decrease the air leaks significantly.

This post was written by

jasonjason – who has written posts on Home Tips Plus.
I'm a father of three, married and a home owner since 2006. I've worked in fixing up homes and rental properties.

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