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? 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. 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.
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. Insulation, an energy-efficient air conditioning system, and using a ceiling fan to cut cooling costs will still lack the desired effect on your cooling costs this coming summer if your home is still leaking. Leaks in walls, windowsills, and doors are all easy escape routes for cold air to swap space with the warm air outside. Typically, heat will always move from a place of higher energy to a lower energy space (hot to cold), robbing you of the comfort your home should otherwise have. Before that first heat wave hits, take the time to double-check your home for potential leaks and drafts.
Windowsill leaks are a common place to find a sudden leak. Over time, the sunlight erodes the synthetic sealing of weather strips around your windowsills. The chill of winter followed by the warming of spring and that first chance to open a window can cause the stripping around a sill to crack or break. Make a visual inspection of the sill and look for damaged wood, weather stripping, or cracked glass around the edges.
Additionally, doorjamb leaks are probably more common that window leaks. Foundation damage from a warm winter, excessive rains, or the recent drought can lead to doors that no longer fit well and create gaps. Storm door weather stripping and sweeps (the brush on the base of the door) can also be damaged over time and should be replaced if you find holes, cracks, or missing segments.
Finally, exterior damage is another source of leaks and drafts. It’s a good idea, especially after a storm, to examine your home from the outside. Walk around the full exterior of your home and look for damage to vents, exhausts, siding, and the roof. If there’s a dent, missing shingle, or crack, you may find a hole as well.
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.