Two weeks ago I did the first part of my newest home improvement subject postings which is explaining all about energy consumption and how to save money by being more energy efficient. I had a FraudAvengers article last week so I promised everyone two posts this week, and here is the first one and it’s all about air leaks.
Air leaks are the number one cause for your home losing energy, and they’re one of the easiest things to fix as well. Just as the name suggests an air leak is when air is either seeping into, or out of, your home. This air transfer will lead to temperature changes, which makes your home hotter or colder, which makes your HVAC system work harder, which costs you money. Plugging up these holes is as simple as caulking around areas, installing some weather stripping around windows, and installing some more insulation…all very easy DIY tasks.
Now the best way to get your home energy efficient is to contact your local energy supplier and have them send out an energy auditor to do a full inspection of your house. He will do things such as professionally look at your windows, attic, basement, etc. He will go through your air ducts, and he will probably even take a thermal picture of your home to see which spots are the warmest. The only problem with this is that it can be expensive to hire these guys; I’ve got some ways you can do your own energy assessment without having to pay a professional.
An easy DIY way to find air leaks involves pretty smells and a tour of your home. Go to any place that sells candles and scented items and they will probably have a stick of incense. Buy a couple of these in your favorite scent (I’m partial to lavender myself) and wait for a windy day. Once you have a windy day go to places in your home where you have windows, ducts, changes in ceiling height, and especially in your attic and basement. Put the incense right next to places where you think an air leak might be. If the smoke of the incense moves either away (when the wind blows) or towards (a vacuum created by the lack of air pressure made by the wind) a window or corner it means you have found an air leak. Go through your home and make a map of all these places and then jump over to your local Home Depot. Purchase some window sealant, some caulk, and probably some Pink Panther Insulation as well. Go through your home and seal, caulk, and insulate all the areas where the incense moved and you’ve quickly and easily sealed up some of your energy wasting offenders.
Other small ways you can prevent air leaks (that you probably didn’t think of) can be found all around your home. Try and cover your kitchen fan, the thing that will suck the smoke out of the kitchen when your mom lights a frozen pizza on fire in the oven (true story…hi mom!) when it’s not being used. Since this fan is connected to the outside it is an immediate connection to energy loss. The same with your fireplace’s flue panel. Always make sure that your flue is closed when the fireplace is not in use (although you should keep it open 24 hours after your fire has been put out to properly air it out). Something else that happens with the flue panel is that after continuous heating and cooling from the fire the metal can get warped, so look into replacing the panel if it hasn’t been done in a couple years (or ever).
When it comes to insulation, you can use the Pink Panther kind that I linked to earlier in the post, but there is also something called rigid foam insulation, which provides almost double the insulation coverage than the other kind but, as you can see, it’s handedly more expensive.
The final thing I’ll mention is my favorite way of saving money and that is by replacing windows from single pane to double paned windows. These kinds of windows are thicker and specifically engineered to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It may be a little more expensive to do right off the bat (you are replacing every window in your home after all) but as long as they’re installed correctly and properly sealed from the get-go you won’t have to worry about air leaks or replacing them for another 10 years almost.
If you have any other energy savings tips be sure to leave a comment here or on facebook. I’ll be back tomorrow with the next round of energy savings: Your HVAC system.
Build safe out there!