Monday, December 3, 2012

Draft Proof Your Home

Written by Sound Marketing

Wherever you feel cold air coming in, you have a leak, and warm air will escape through the same gap. Drafts are big energy wasters that inflate your bills and make your home less comfortable than it could be. Sealing the gaps and cracks with caulking and weather stripping is one of the most cost-effective steps you can take to keep the heat inside your home, reducing heat loss by up to 10%.

Affordability

The materials you need to seal the gaps are relatively inexpensive and you can purchase many of them at local hardware stores. Draft proofing generally has the fastest payback of any home heating improvement. Even apartment dwellers and renters can draftproof parts of their homes.

Cost savings

If your home is losing warm air to the outside and letting cold air gust in, you are likely suffering the high cost of wasted heating. Drafts work against you in summer months as well, letting hot outside air in. Sealing the gaps will help seal in savings.

Health & comfort

Damp air seeping in makes a room’s temperature feel colder than it is. Dry air can lead to problems with static, as well as dry throats and skin. Sealing leaks will make your home more comfortable, in all weather conditions.

Environmental considerations

Since heating is the largest energy user in most homes, wasted heat means a lot of wasted energy. In many homes, 20% of all heat loss is through leaks and poor ventilation. Wasted hydroelectric energy increases the demand for more energy infrastructure. Wasted gas, coal, oil, or wood can increase CO2 emissions. If 10,000 B.C. households with gas heating were draftproofed to cut gas consumption an average of 5%, it could save a kilotonne (1,000 tonnes) of CO2 emissions annually.

 

What you need to know

Getting Started

  • Start at the bottom of the house and work your way up.
  • Use a smoking incense stick to find leaks or run your hand over windowsills, doors and walls to feel for cold drafts.
  • Remove old, damaged caulking or weatherstripping before you begin.
  • Choose a caulking that is appropriate to each task.

Places to Seal

  • Joints shift over time and with changes in moisture and temperature, leaving gaps and cracks. Use caulking or other expandable materials to seal the spaces between interior joints, around non-opening windows and spaces around water pipes and vents.
  • Around window and door frames
  • Where walls meet the foundation
  • On the foundation itself
  • Around window air conditioners
  • Around the chimney
  • Around openings where piping, electrical and telephone lines enter the building
  • Block unused openings in the walls or roof to prevent additional energy loss

Doors and Windows

  • Doors get warped by use and weather, leaving gaps between the door and frame. If your exterior doors are drafty, caulk between the door frame and the wall and add weatherstripping along the top and edge of the door. For added protection, put weatherstripping along the vertical doorstop to press against the face of the door when it's closed.
  • Install a door sweep on the bottom edge of your door, or attach weatherstripping along the bottom of the door or on the threshold. Note that weatherstripping attached to the door itself needs to be extra durable.
  • Use weatherstripping and caulking to seal around windows.
  • Hang interior window coverings to help regulate temperature. See our Shade Your Windows tip to learn more.
  • Cover single-paned or inefficient windows with plastic or fitted storm windows in the winter.
  • Keep doors and windows closed when operating heating or an air conditioner.
  • Exterior doors and windows close tightly, as well as interior doors to unheated areas.

More ideas

  • You can purchase draft proofing gaskets that fit behind the cover plates of electrical outlets and lighting fixtures to reduce leakage. Caulk the edges of these gaskets.
  • Child safety plugs fitted into infrequently used electrical outlets can help reduce heat loss through exterior walls.
  • It is possible to over seal your house, leaving it prone to mold or carbon monoxide issues. While it is unlikely to do so with weather stripping and a caulking gun, keep in mind that controlled air circulation is essential for a healthy and comfortable home. Have an electrician install a dehumidistat in your bathroom. These devices can be set to automatically turn on the fan when moisture levels get high. See Upgrade Your Ventilation for more information.
  • When you are ready to upgrade your heating further, head to Maintain Your Heating System and Adding and Upgrading Insulation.

FAQ

Draftproofing my ducts or around my windows seems like a big job for me to do alone. Are there contractors who you can hire to do this kind of work?
Yes. Some parts of a home are easier to draft proof than others, and a contractor will generally be able to do a neat and thorough job. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, talk to a few carpenters to get estimates or, if you have a home energy audit, ask your auditor if they can recommend someone.
If I can only make one home improvement this year, is draft proofing the one that will save the most energy?
The best improvements for you to make depend on the state of your home, your location and your energy use. For a house older than 10 or 15 years, draft proofing can have significant effects, but every house will have different strengths and weaknesses. An energy audit by a qualified auditor will assess the most effective steps for you to take. House Smart Home Improvements can help set you up with a professional energy audit during a Free In-Home Consultation.


House Smart Home Improvements are experienced professionals with an  A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau. When it’s time to replace your windows, doors or furnaces and heat pumps, or to install  insulation, and other energy-efficient home upgrades,  give us a call. 604-585-2020. We offer Free In-Home Consultations!


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