Monday, October 25, 2010

October Energy Saving Tip #6: Banish Drafts

Sealing unwanted air leaks and drafts in your house can be the most important first step toward energy efficiency. If you’re cold you would try zipping up your coat before putting on another coat, wouldn’t you? Air sealing can provide significant savings and increased comfort in your home. While a home energy assessment and professional whole-house air sealing done by a contractor are the best way to realize these savings, there are some simple, low-cost actions you can take to greatly reduce drafts in your home.

Install Weather Stripping and Door Sweeps

Make sure that the weather stripping and door sweeps around all exterior doors are creating a good seal. Use your hand to feel for drafts, or hold a lit candle near the door to see if the flame flickers at all from unwanted air flow. If you can see daylight around the door jamb, you know you’ve got a draft. You can buy weather stripping (for around the door) and door sweeps (for along the bottom of the door) from your local hardware store and follow the instructions on the package to install it where needed.

Window Plastic

You can purchase a plastic window insulation kit for around $5-$10 at your local hardware store. These kits contain a very thin and transparent plastic sheet that is installed over window frames at the beginning of winter and shrunk with a hairdryer until it is virtually invisible. The film can help reduce heat loss through the window by 25 to 50% and is easy to remove after the cold season.
Draft Snake by The Bunny Maker

Draft Snakes

Another idea for stopping drafts from under doors is using a draft snake. This can be as simple as placing a rolled up towel over the gap under the door, or you can purchase or make a tube of fabric filled with an insulating substance.

Rope Caulk

If you are looking for a reversible way to seal small leaks or drafty windows, rope caulk can provide a pliable seal that is easy to remove. It’s a clay like substance that comes in a long roll and it’s very affordable. If you aren’t planning on opening your windows during the cold season, you can use rope caulk to effectively seal them shut and block any drafts.

Heavy Curtains

A really easy and attractive way to reduce drafts and add insulation to your windows is to install heavy curtains. If you’re concerned about light you only need to close them at night and you’ll still see a significant increase in comfort.

Get a professional energy audit

The actions mentioned above can help you to greatly reduce drafts in your home, but there’s only so much you can you can do on your own. It’s easy to feel the drafts coming from the gap under a door, but much harder to know if you’re losing heat under your attic knee wall, and where and how much you would need to seal to control the unwanted air flow.

 A professional building analyst can use a blower door and thermal imaging equipment to get the full picture on how air tight your house is vs. how tight it should be for maximum ventilation and air quality with minimum heat loss. If your house needs more sealing they can recommend exactly how and where this should occur. Proper air sealing can reduce heating costs up to 30%. Contact the Community Energy Challenge to sign up for a home energy assessment.

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