Are your WI heating bills getting out of hand?
Sunday Mar 12th, 2023
Are your WI heating bills getting out of hand?
Originally Posted by Steven M Vertz, on Mar 01, 2020, when associated with Coldwell Banker Real Estate Group
CHECK YOUR HOME FOR AIR LEAKS!
The cold weather season is almost past. Do your heating bills seem to be higher than normal? You will want to make sure your home is properly sealed so you can maximize your savings, and this helps during those warmer coming months too.
Those pesky air leaks can make it difficult to keep your home properly heated and cooled. According to Rebecca Matulka with Energy.gov (2013), you could save anywhere from 5%-30% by finding and repairing your home’s air leaks.
Check out these tips on checking your home for air leaks.
Keep in mind that hiring a professional is the best option, as they have the necessary tools to detect even the smallest leaks. This includes things like blower doors, infrared cameras, manometers, draft gauges, combustion analyzers, digital probe thermometers, moisture meters, etc. (Matulka, 2013).
Don’t worry my friends! You can do a really good job on your own by following some of the tips below!
Outdoor Visual Inspection
Head outdoors to check on all the areas that have different type of materials, and where various materials enter/exit the home including:
Anywhere the siding touches or goes around a different material; the foundation; exteriors corners; where siding meets the chimney; where siding meets the outdoor faucets; where the siding meets any venting, electrical service, plumbing, etc. (Matulka, 2013).
Even if you hire a professional energy auditor, they will still prefer you to have some information that will help them pinpoint problems faster.
Next Up, Performing A Simple Air Pressure Test
No need to worry. You don’t need any expensive or fancy equipment to do a decent job.
Head inside and seal up your home the best you can by completely closing all doors and windows. You will want to wait for your furnace to cycle off as well (or turn it off temporarily), otherwise, that moving warm air through the vents will make your job next to impossible.
Next, turn on all your exhaust fans such as your bathroom fans, stove vents (if they truly run outside and not just filter and recirculate the air), and dryer (Matulka, 2013).
You could also use a large window fan in each room as you move along in order to suck air out of the rooms quicker (Matulka, 2013).
Now, light up an incense stick to start a visual test. Make sure you move the smoke really close and slowly pass the edges of anything that leads to the outside.
This includes all your door and window frames, mail slots, electrical outlets, switch plates, baseboards, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, cable TV and phone lines, vents and fans, wall- or window-mounted air conditioners, recessed lighting, where dryer vents pass through walls, electrical and gas service entrances, foundation seals, and anything else you can think of.
Watch for signs of the smoke going into any of these edges or being forced away from them.
Congratulations! You found that pesky leak!
A Closer Look At Those Windows And Doors
Without breaking your window, attempt to gently shake each one while checking for signs of movement (Matulka, 2013). This will help you figure out if there are gaps along the frame’s edges.
You will also want to look closely for any missing or loose screws and cracks in the frame or window itself.
If you can afford it, replacing your older windows and doors is the best option in many cases. However, you can go a little longer if you are willing to use storm doors, windows, and those plastic sheets that go over the windows.
Believe it or not, they do work quite well.
Do You Have Skylights?
Check for water stains near them, as this is a sure sign that you have an issue. I have seen many newer skylights leak too, so don’t think you are out of the woods just because they may be newer.
Once a skylight leak is detected, you will have to get up on that roof and take a closer look.
You may have nearby loose shingles, debris, cracked roofing cement, or other nearby damage that causes too much water to rush over the area during periods of rain.
Inspect all your doors (near the hinges, thresholds, weather stripping, etc.) closely. If you have older weather stripping, it may be deteriorated. Areas around them, or the door itself may have a crack that is allowing air to pass through it.
Options For Sealing Up Those Air Leaks
Caulking: Caulking can be used to seal gaps, joints, and cracks that are around ¼ inch wide or less. However, caulk comes in a variety of compounds for different uses (properties, strengths, and prices), so you need to make sure that you are using the correct type for the job.
For example: You have kitchen and bath caulk, windows, doors, and siding caulk; concrete caulk, glass caulk, gutter caulk, roof caulk, etc. (Dahl, 2018).
Some caulk is made specifically to be water resistant, water proof, and/or adhere to certain types of materials.
This handy Energy.gov caulking list can help you pick the right caulk for your air sealing project.
Weatherstripping: You should use some good weatherstripping to help seal up those air leaks around windows, doors, and any movable pieces. Just like caulking, you want to choose the right stuff.
Are you unsure what to do? Energy.gov’s weatherstripping table lets you know about the many types and their best uses!
Insulation: Using additional insulation in regards to air leaks can be a more challenging issue.
Your walls already have insulation in them (or at least they should), and you probably don’t want to tear down the wall or sections in order to add more.
However, there are many great companies and do-it-yourself foam options that can ease that pain.
You may want to check out https://sprayfoamkit.com/products/insulating-existing-walls/ to see what I mean :-)
Although this article focuses mostly on air leaks for saving on those heating bills, you will want to look into more home energy ideas that relate to heating and cooling, your attic insulation, basement insulation, and more as well.
Now take action and save money by finding and repairing those air leaks!
Steven Vertz - Wizards of Real Estate LLC
Dahl, Timothy (2018). How to Choose the Right Caulk for Any Surface. Retrieved December 23, 2018 from PopularMechanics.com: https://www.popularmechanics.com/home/how-to/a12296/4309161/
Matulka, Rebecca (2013). Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Home Energy Audits. Retrieved December 23, 2018 from Energy.gov: https://www.energy.gov/articles/energy-saver-101-infographic-home-energy-audits
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