Leak-proof Your House and Save

Sealing small cracks and opening in your home can make a big difference in your utility bills.
By Charles Higginson
February/March 2007
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A house can lose a lot of heat (or cool air) through small cracks and openings. The first step to leak-proofing your home is making sure the big wall penetrations (doors and windows) seal tightly, with effective weatherstripping. But most houses have dozens of small potential air leaks besides these big ones. How do you find these leaks, and how do you stop them?

A brochure provided by Energy Star can help you find and seal leaks in your house. This brochure shows how to:

1. Find and seal hidden attic and basement air leaks;
2. Determine if your attic insulation is adequate, and add more if necessary;
3. Make sure your improvements are done safely and result in a healthier home;
4. Reduce energy bills and help protect the environment.

Besides the obvious places to seal leaks (openings for wires, plumbing or electrical outlets) there are many places where you might not know to look. This guide shows how to inspect these areas:

  • Between floor joists
  • Behind kneewalls
  • Attic hatches
  • Wiring holes
  • Plumbing vents
  • Open soffits (boxes that hide recessed lights)
  • Recessed lights
  • Furnace flues or ducts
  • Chaseways (hollow boxes or wall features that hide ducts)
  • Basement rim joists (where the foundation meets the wood framing)

The guide includes tips on evaluating insulation levels, applying additional insulation, choosing materials for sealing and insuring adequate ventilation, and using caulking and sealing materials. It also identifies problems for which you might need to hire a contractor. For tips on products, energy-efficient practices and hiring the right contractor, visit www.energystar.gov/homeimprovement.

Read more about sealing small leaks in The Other Leaks.

Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy that offers advice to help save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. For information about many aspects of energy efficiency, visit www.energystar.gov or call (888).STAR.YES (888) 782-7937).

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