Description – A man checking for gaps that cause air leaks in windows
Energy bills can be one of the biggest expenses that a household has to shoulder. Since it depends upon energy consumption, it’s a given that the energy bills during the summer and winter are bound to double. It is estimated that around ¼ of a family’s income is spent on their energy bills.
Additionally, energy bills will continue to rise if a home isn’t insulated properly. Poor insulation can allow air to leak out of the house, putting more strain on the HVAC system. Most people often ignore these leaks assuming that the repairs will be expensive.
However, having these leaks is only pushing the electricity bill higher with each passing month. Plus, repairing them is actually inexpensive. Sealing your home can be done even when you are on a budget. In fact, the difference it makes can help to make your home energy-efficient and cut down on the hefty bills too.
The following are some of the easiest and inexpensive ways you can seal any air leaks in your home while remaining on a budget:
Closing Gaps around the Chimneys
If you a wood fire chimney in your home, you might have a huge air gap without knowing about it. Many buildings require that all wood frames be kept at a distance of 1 inch or more from the metal flues in the chimney. While this step is taken to help save the wood, it also causes a huge gap.
This gap allows air to escape, even when you are not using the chimney. To seal it properly, you need to use peel and stick caulk strip which is capable of withstanding the high temperatures of a log fire.
A small tube of caulk will be more than enough to cover the gap and ensure that you are able to prevent air from leaking out. Always pay attention to the high temperature of the heat when picking a caulk type for the chimney. The wrong caulk will not adhere and might react badly to the heat.
Weather-stripping the Attic Doors
All attic hatches and stairs are usually hidden behind pull-down, useful attic stairs. Unfortunately, they have a small flaw – even a gap that is ¼ of an inch long in length can allow air to escape. In this case, you can add the caulk to the space between the door and the stairs.
Another step you can take is to add some insulating and heating options around the hatch opening. Also known as weather stripping, the process involves using some foam to seal the door properly. You can buy insulated and weather-stripped attic doors but these can be pretty expensive.
A good kit for attic door hatch can be around $150 to $550. Our suggested method is much cheaper, only costing you around $14 to get some good quality silicone caulk. Other forms of caulk will be even more inexpensive. Acrylic latex caulk can be $8 per tube or cheaper so anyone can easily afford it.
Caulking on Skinny Gaps
Any opening that is less than ¼ of an inch in size is a skinny gap. These can be around doors, windows, and even electrical boxes. There are numerous skinny gaps around a home that will allow a large amount of air to constantly escape.
If you want to make sure that your home is completely sealed, you will have to tackle these gaps both inside and outside your home. Again, the good news is that you use inexpensive methods like peel and stick trim. This not only cuts down on the application time but they are also very easy to break down into the size you want.
When applied properly it can be a wonderful tool. If you’re unable to find any, you can always supplement it with some caulk which is inexpensive as well. Additionally, you can find different forms of caulk that will suit your needs. Some are even waterproof and last for years.
Plugging Gaps in the Basement
Basement gaps are some of the most unnoticed ones and they often allow a large amount of air to escape. This is because most systems are installed in the basement. Your HVAC system, electrical system, and even the main water switch will be in there.
The gaps caused can mean that your basement is drafty and lets in moisture. Sealing it in will ensure that your home is properly insulated from top to bottom with ease. The best part is that you will be able to do this quickly as well. All you need is some inexpensive flexible plastic edge trim.
The plastic edge will help to prevent moisture from damaging the steel and ensure that the seal created remains airtight. Additionally, these are just as simple and easy to use as caulk or other forms of trim are. You can find them in different varieties in the market.
Tightening Doors and Windows
Another area of the house where you can use flexible plastic edge trim is the doors and windows. These can have the most gaps and can allow heat to escape. Data shows that almost 40% of the heat in the house is lost through windows.
Gaps also mean that temperature control inside the house is disrupted. You will have to run the HVAC system for longer to maintain the temperature. To avoid all this, just get some trim with a plastic edge and fill the gaps around the doors and windows.
These trim options can also enhance the life of the windows, especially if you have old ones that are due to be changed anytime soon. The best part is that you will be able to get the best possible trim options at different price ranges, starting from $8 and going up to $35. In comparison, other options such as a window replacement can mean you face costs as much as $150 or more.
With the help of the suggestions mentioned above, you not only get to seal any air leaks but also do so while staying on a budget.
Greg Amundson is the creator of InstaTrim and enjoys the day to day challenges that come with taking an idea and bringing it to market-related to home improvement. I am passionate to make DIYers’ life easier by developing products like flexible white trim, black flexible edge trim, and dark brown caulk strip, etc.