As colder temperatures make their appearance this month, first and foremost on the minds of many homeowners is how to properly seal their homes and create the most warm and toasty, energy-efficient environment possible. Not only is a drafty home cold and uncomfortable; it is also a source of energy costs that are higher than necessary throughout the Winter months.
If your house does in fact feel drafty, you're probably wondering how -- and where! -- cold air is entering your home. The first step in identifying what is causing your home's drafty areas is to have your local electric company (or another qualified professional) perform an energy audit on your home. More than likely, you have some unsealed areas in and around your attic, windows, doors, recessed lighting, and electrical outlets. All are notorious for air leaks. Windows and doors settle over time and often have cracks (and old weather-stripping material) that let in the cold air. They also tend to lose their seal as they age. A quick fix for this is to remove and replace all weather-stripping on your doors and windows and to place draft guards at the bottom of the doors in your home. Another quick and easy solution is to put thermal or energy-efficient curtains on your windows. These curtains will help to keep the cold outside air from entering your home.
An improperly insulated attic is also a large cause of air leaks in many homes. The first step here is to ensure that all of your attic access points are well insulated. Oftentimes, these are not insulated at all, leading to drafty rooms and hallways near your attic. You'll also want to make sure that all areas of your attic actually contain insulation and that it is evenly distributed. Because it is sometimes difficult to get to and inspect all areas of your attic thoroughly (especially if you don't know what you're looking for), we recommend that you err on the side of caution and hire a home inspector to check for air leaks or problems with insulation in your attic.
Other Energy-Efficient Tips for Minimizing Your Home's Draft
*Make sure to close the damper on your fireplace(s) when not in use.
*Put energy-saving film on all of your windows before Winter arrives.
*Re-caulk all of your windows and doors once a year.
*Hire a reputable HVAC contractor to check your home's ductwork for air leaks.
*Install insulation (or light caps) and recessed housing gaskets on all recessed lighting in your home.
*Insulate all electrical outlets in your home with foam gaskets.
As you can see, locating cracks, crevices, and air leaks in your home is a big deal -- and something that will go a long way towards increasing your comfort and decreasing your energy bills this Winter. It's time to get out that caulk gun and get to work before freezing temperatures arrive!