AIR-SEALING & INSULATING HOMES
Sealing and insulating the “envelope” of your home (walls, ceiling, windows, doors, floors) is typically the most cost effective way to improve energy efficiency and comfort. The Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR estimates that a home owner or skilled contractor can save up to 20% on heating and cooling cost (or up to 10% of their energy cost) by air sealing and insulating.
- Seal air leaks throughout the home or building to stop drafts,
- Add insulation to prevent heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer,
- Select ENERGY STAR qualified windows when replacing windows.
You can Do-It-Yourself with help from Energy Star’s DIY Guide. This guide offers step-by-step instructions for sealing air leaks and insulation to the attic.
You can also hire a contractor who will use diagnostic tools to pinpoint and seal any hidden air leaks. Look through the phone book yellow pages to find contractors that offer air sealing services in your area. There are also qualified contractors that participate in local Home Performance with ENERGY STAR programs across the nation.
SEALING UP LEAKS
Most air leaks and drafts are easy to locate because they are quite easy to feel — like those around windows and doors. Holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are typically bigger problems. Sealing up these leaks with one component polyurethane foam sealant like Great Stuff Pro, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility costs. See the house diagram below to see common air leak locations that you should aim to seal.
Some homeowners are concerned about sealing their house too tightly. It is a concern but this is very unlikely in most older homes. A certain amount of fresh air is needed for good indoor air quality and there are specifications that set the minimum amount of fresh air needed for a house. If you are concerned about how tight your home is, hire a contractor, such as a Home Energy Rater, who can use specialize diagnostic tools to measure your home’s actual leakage. If your home is too tight, a fresh air ventilation system may be recommended.
After any home sealing project, have a heating and cooling technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly.