After a hot summer in Mobile, Alabama, you’re eager to break out the sweaters, boots,and hot cocoa. Colder weather, as long as it doesn’t dip into the extremes, is a welcome respite from the heat and humidity of summer. But without preparation, it can also be a drain on your energy efficiency.
The change in season is the perfect time to reinstate your goal to be more energy efficient. You can start by preparing your home for the upcoming cold weather. Sealing your home will prevent energy waste and high utility costs by keeping air where it belongs. Here’s why you should seal your home.
What Are You Sealing?
When we discuss sealing a home, we generally refer to sealing a “thermal envelope.” Thermal envelopes refer to everything that separates the thermostat-controlled air inside your home from the fluctuating temperatures outside. Thermal envelopes consist of doors, windows, insulation and anything else that keeps air where it belongs.
Why Seal Your Home?
Two words: air leaks. It’s one thing to catch energy efficiency issues by listening for strange sounds coming from your HVAC system or feeling too cold despite your thermostat setting. But air leaks are invisible energy sappers, and you may not notice them until you receive a higher-than-usual utility bill. Air leaks don’t just involve your controlled air leaving the home; they also involve outdoor air entering the home.
Some homeowners rely on air leaks to ventilate the home and keep air moving. While ventilation is crucial to indoor air quality, relying on air leaks is not an effective way to ventilate. When outdoor air enters your home, it’s not just bringing in a breeze; it’s drawing in cooler temperatures, hazardous particles and even unwanted moisture. Such leaks can contribute to poor indoor air quality and can also reduce the structure’s durability.
By sealing air leaks, you prepare your home for a season of improved energy efficiency. When air leaks allow cool air into the home, your heating system experiences increased strain as it attempts to compensate for the invasion of outdoor air. This forces your system to work harder, hiking up utility costs and potentially reducing your system’s lifespan. Sealing leaks also improves indoor air quality and ensures that you enjoy all the comfort your HVAC system supplies.
How Do You Seal Your Home?
Sealing your home takes some planning, supplies and free time. First, you’ll need to hunt down which areas of your thermal envelope need the most attention. Aside from feeling around your home for drafts, look for dirt and dust around windows and doors where leaks may have also pushed in some particles.
Inside your home, look for cracks and gaps around baseboards, outlets and the like. Outside, look for areas where two types of building materials meet, such as exterior corners and around faucets. On the professional side, home energy audits can also catch air leaks.
Around windows with cracks in the caulking, simply apply a fresh layer of caulk. You may need to replace poorly installed or old windows with more efficient windows if caulk doesn’t fix the air leak. Place weatherstripping along door frames where doors don’t fit snugly.
Spend extra time looking for potential leaks in your attic and garage. Unfinished areas of the home often allow unwanted air into the finished living space. Look for gaps around plumbing pipes and outlet boxes. Use caulk or expanding foam to seal those leaks. Attic entry hatches also often need a layer of weatherstripping to keep the area sealed. Finally, it may be worth your while to roll blanket insulation into your attic floor if there isn’t insulation there already.
While you’ll surely enjoy being outside in the cooler weather for a time, your home will quickly become an escape from the cold of winter. For reliable comfort and efficiency, take time to seal your home before the cold fronts hit. To further prepare for an energy-efficient heating season, call Air Specialty at (251) 415-4559.
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