If you’re looking for ways to save on your energy bills, there’s no better place to start than to identify the air leaks in your home.  Air leaks bump up your energy bills month after month, year after year. Not taking the time now to identify and remedy them multiplies the unnecessary cost until you do.  You’re paying good money to heat and cool the air in your home. You wouldn’t purposefully throw dollar bills out your window. However, not identifying and fixing those air leaks is like an open window sucking out your hard-earned cash.  Finding some air gaps will be easy, while others will require a little more sleuthing. The tips below from Department of Energy will get you on your way to trim your energy bills by detecting air leaks in your home.

Four Tips for Detecting Air Leaks

Energy tip #1- Have a professional energy audit

There’s no better way to gather a complete laundry list of air leaks than to hire a professional energy auditor.  While they’re at it, they’ll also assess your energy usage, find culprits for spikes in usage, locate other deficiencies, and suggest solutions. Your energy service provider may offer this service or help to recommend someone.  In addition, you can find local energy auditors at Building Performance Institute.However, if you don’t want to or can’t afford to hire an energy auditor, there are still tips to help you do your own detective work.  

Energy tip #2 – Inspect the exterior of your home

From the outside of your home, you’ll want to pay attention to the areas in which two different building materials adjoin: 

  • exterior corners
  • water faucets
  • where chimneys and siding meet
  • where foundation and exterior brick or siding meet

While not effective for finding smaller cracks, shining a flashlight at night over suspected gaps while a partner observes the house from outside can help identify larger cracks. Large cracks will allow you to see rays of light.

Energy tip #3 -Inspect the interior of your home

There are many sources for cracks and gaps around the inside of your home.  Here are some areas on which to focus:

  • electrical outlets and switch plates
  • door and window frames and the weather stripping around (doors and windows should not rattle)
  • storm windows—do they fit properly and are they not broken?
  • areas where electrical and gas service enter your home
  • cable TV and phone lines
  • attic hatches
  • fireplace dampers
  • wall- or window-mounted air conditioners
  • dryer vent pass throughs
  • vents and fans
  • baseboards

A handy trick when assessing your doors and windows is the dollar bill trick.  Shut a door or window on a dollar bill. You should NOT be able to pull it out without resistance.  If you don’t feel resistance, you are losing energy. Another simple trick: if you are searching for leaks in colder weather, wetting your hand will make it more sensitive to drafts for easier detection.

Energy tip #4 – Perform a building pressurization test

While a little more involved, performing a building pressurization test is also an effective tool to find household air leaks.  Here’s a step by step guide. On a cool and very windy day…First, shut all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues. Next, turn on all exhaust fans, such as stove vents, bathrooms fans, clothes dryer. Alternately, you could use a large window fan instead to pull air out of rooms. Last, light an incense stick (it’s smokier than a candle) and place it in front of areas prone to leaks.  The smoke will help you better see the leaks. If the smoke ripples or is sucked in or out, you know there’s a draft.

As a homeowner, it seems the list of To Do’s is never-ending.  In truth, it isn’t. There are always projects calling your name, and you’re forced to prioritize.  The balance in your bank account isn’t never-ending either. So, choosing projects first that save you money month after month give you the most bang for your buck.  Money saved on energy efficiency in your home could turn into money spent on that new porch you’d love to add. Finding the air leaks is a smart project to put at the top of your To Do’s list.

More ideas to come

Stay tuned from upcoming articles with strategies to remedy those air leaks in your attic and elsewhere in your home.  Working towards energy efficiency isn’t just a one-and-done proposition. It’s a series of steps and choices. One very important step towards energy efficiency is selecting the best energy service provider.  Contact Plymouth Rock Energy to find out what they can do for you to lower your energy bills each month.