5 Projects to Seal Your Home’s Envelope for Greater Energy Efficiency
Make Your Home a Fortress Against Leaks and Drafts
Even if you have a top-of-the-line air conditioner unit, you may still find that your energy costs are too high. For most homes, this is due to leaks in the home’s envelope – the outer walls, windows, doors, and other openings of the structure. When not sealed thoroughly, these areas leak your valuable cooled or heated air into the atmosphere, causing your utility bills to climb astronomically.
The majority of the homes in the U.S. lack proper insulation to avoid air leaks. In fact, many professionals say that all of the accumulated leaks in the average home would be equivalent to leaving a window open every day of the year! By sealing leaks and adding insulation to your home, you can greatly reduce the amount of energy wasted on cooling and heating, and can greatly improve the overall comfort of the home. In addition, a well-sealed and insulated home is quieter and less humid, with greater protection from pets, pollen, and dust. In colder climates, a well-insulated house can even lower the chance of ice and snow build up on your roof.
Here are a few projects that will effectively seal the thermal envelope of your home:
There are a number of ways to identify leaks or gaps in your home’s thermal envelope. One way to visually check the insulation in your home is to remove the electrical outlet and visually examine how much insulation is inside. Alternatively, after dark, you can shine a flashlight where you think potential gaps may be hiding while a partner observes from outside. If they can see light shining through, you likely have a leak.
If you have drafty rooms, uneven temperature distribution between rooms, or an unusually high electricity bill, you may be in need of attic air sealing. If your attic is accessible and easy enough to move around in, you can usually seal your attic yourself by either adding more insulation or using a caulk to seal any small gaps or leaks. The attic is one of the biggest opportunities to save energy in your home by adding insulation and sealing any leaks.
Sealing Behind Window and Door Trim
One of the most common areas where cooled or heated air can escape the home is around windows and doors. Often the gaps will not be visible because they are covered by the door or window trim. To seal these areas, you will need to carefully remove the trim, and then filling the leak with either fiberglass insulation or caulk. While you may get less bang for your buck than you would by sealing and insulating your attic, this is an easy DIY project that still has a substantial pay off.
Basement and Crawlspace Sealing
Second to the attic, your basement is one of the biggest opportunities to reclaim energy in the home. Not only will sealing leaks reduce drafts and keep your home cozy, but it could also lead to warmer floors. Basements typically leak around the joists and under the sill plate, as well as around any windows, so be sure to carefully seal or insulate these areas.
Apply Plastic Shrink Wrap to Windows
Even though they may seem stable and secure, there is a good chance that your windows are leaking a lot of your precious air! If your windows rattle, have visible gaps, or if pests, dust and odors are penetrating the home, you may need new windows or to apply shrink wrap to your existing ones. You will want to use the plastic shrink wrap specifically designed for this purpose and adhere to the instructions on the packaging. To apply, simply cut the film to size, clean the window, and then use a hair dryer to tighten the film to the window.
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