Did you know that heating and cooling accounts for more than half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes? (Department of Energy)
Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a lot of your energy dollars.
It's like tossing cash out the window!
Why take the risk?
Now is the perfect time to make sure your home is optimized to keep your home comfortable. You want to keep the cool air inside before the summer heat rolls around. One of the best ways to do that is check for any air leakage.
25% of your home's heat is lost through small cracks and holes throughout your home. Taking the time to make sure your home is properly sealed and insulated will lower your total energy usage. Similarly insulating your attic and walls, and sealing cracks and openings will prevent warm air from leaking into your home.
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Benefits of Proper Sealing and Insulation for Your Comfort
By taking steps to ensure that your home is adequately sealed and insulated, you will save both energy and money. When your home can hold on to the cool air provided by your central air conditioning system, you can maintain the comfort level you desire when it's hot outside.
But failure to properly seal and insulate your home allows that cool air to leak out through your doors and windows. As a result, your HVAC unit runs longer and you can’t maintain a consistent temperature throughout your house.
When your home is sealed tightly, there is less chance of your cool air escaping. Your system will run less often, while keeping you just as cool and comfortable.
Air Leaks Let Cool Air Escape
When air leakage is present throughout your home, your cooling costs and energy usage will be higher.
Air leaks allow your home to lose its precious cool air and let the hot air in. As the warm air mixes with the cool air, the temperature in your home becomes uncomfortable and can be inconsistent from room to room.
How to Detect Air Infiltration
A professional HVAC technician can perform a home evaluation to determine whether your home is leaking air and make recommendations on how to remedy the situation.
If you're interested in DIY solutions, according to International Association of Certfied Home Inspectors you can use an incense stick to locate leaks.
Air infiltrates into and out of your home through every hole and crack. Walk around your home with an incense stick, paying particular attention to windows, doors, and outlets.
If the smoke starts to blow sideways, you’ve found a leak that might be letting air leak. Weather stripping, caulking or even spray foam can seal these leaks and keep your house comfortable all summer long.
E-Conservation Home Energy Management Series also gives you a detailed list on how to find air leaks. One of their suggestions is to look for cobwebs - spiders put their webs where there is airflow.
How Does the Air Escape?
photo credit: Nachi.org
Inadequate Insulation Lets the Heat In During Summer
If you don’t have adequate insulation, your HVAC system will have to run longer to keep your house cooler, resulting in higher energy bills. When you have the proper amount of insulation, your system can run more efficiently and for shorter periods of time. Adequate insulation will save you money on your energy bill and keep your house cooler.
You should check the insulation in your walls, especially around windows, door frames and especially your attic, for any air leaks. Attics hold a lot of potential for letting cool air escape.
The air in an attic can become very hot. If your attic isn’t well insulated, the hot air can enter your home, making your air conditioning unit run more often, work harder and cost you more each month.
Insulation R-value and its Effectiveness in Your Home
Insulation levels are specified by R-value.
"R-Value is a measure of insulation's ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-Value the better the thermal performance of the insulation."
Insulation with a higher R-value will keep warm air out and cool air in. Your HVAC unit won’t have to run as often and your energy bills will be reduced.
Insulation R-values can be installed in walls, attics, basements, and anywhere that you would normally insulate. It is one of the best ways to improve energy efficiency in your home.
Home Depot walks you through a presentation on DIY insulation. If you have a large project, it is always best to consult with a professional. For quick jobs around the house you can view the video here: Insulation R-values
Informative Ways to Seal Air Leaks
(And keep your cool air - Don't let the cool air escape this summer)
Houselogic wrote an extensive article on 8 Easy Ways to Seal Air Leaks Around the House. They cover:
- insulating around your recessed lights
- plugging open stud cavities
- closing gaps around your chimneys
- weatherstripping around doors and windows
They also mention to always wear protective gear or consult a professional.
Don’t sweat it this summer.
Taking the time to make sure your home is properly sealed and insulated will save you money on your energy bills and ensure you and your family stay cool and comfortable all summer long.
If you detect more complex issues during your self inspection for drafts and possible leaks, you may need to have a professional inspection done in your home.
Keeping your system running smoothly depends on proper maintenance and service needs. Now is the best time before problems arise to have your system checked. Being proactive before the summer hits will help ensure your comfort.
photo credit: summer