Air leaks and inadequate insulation are two of the greatest potential energy wasters in your home. Once these issues are addressed, you can save as much as 20 percent or more in energy savings. The key is to seal any leaks, cracks, gaps or holes in the exterior surfaces of your home, called the “envelope”, as well as your duct system. Once these areas have been tackled, you can move on to upgrading insulation to current energy efficiency standards.
When you seal and insulate your home, you will also benefit from improved whole-home comfort and indoor air quality and will increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. These corrections and modifications require a systematic approach and can be completed by a DIY home improver. Otherwise, the tasks can be completed by a professional contractor.
Steps Required to Seal and Insulate Your Home:
Perform an energy audit
When is the last time you performed an energy audit? It’s a valuable tool in analyzing where your home’s energy efficiency can be improved. Air leaks and inadequate insulation are two of the areas that energy audits focus on. You can contact your local HVAC contractor or utility company to get recommendations for professional energy audit professionals in your area. Once the audit is complete, you’ll have a prioritized list of which areas in your home need improvement so you can begin tackling them one at a time, beginning with the most important.
Sealing Your Home’s Envelope
As mentioned above, your home’s “envelope” is the exterior surfaces in your home, the walls, windows, and roof. Any leaks on these surfaces lead to heat loss in the winter and heat gain during the summer, causing excess energy waste as well as wear and tear on your heating and cooling equipment.
First, walk around the perimeter of your home and take note of any cracks, leaks or holes on the exterior of your building. You may need to use a ladder to get a better view of the upper levels of your home and the areas where the siding meets the roof line. If you have a multi-story home, you may want a professional to assist you with this part of the inspection.
Pay careful attention to:
- The chimney and/or flues
- Areas where the siding meets the roof and foundation
- Window and door frames
- Anywhere plumbing or electrical work forms wall penetrations
- Anyplace equipment is vented through exterior walls
All of these leaks can be sealed using caulk. You will also want to take a close look at the interior of your basement and attic, additional places where hidden leaks can cause energy waste. You can use spray foam as well as caulking in these areas, which also adds insulation value.
Inspect all of the weather stripping around your doors and windows. If any seems warped, brittle, corroded or is obviously cracked or compromised, replace it with new weather stripping for added leak protection.
Inspect and Seal Your Ductwork
Don’t neglect the ductwork when preparing to seal and insulate your home. Ductwork can separate and develop leaks over time. This causes air-conditioned air to leak out of your heating and cooling system before it ever reaches your living space. Inspect all of the ducts that you have access to and seal any leaks with mastic tape. Reattach any sections that have become disconnected and seal those joints as well. Also, seal any noticeable gaps or leaks behind grilles and vents where ductwork meets the walls or ceiling.
You may need to have your ducts replaced if they are corroded or dented beyond repair. Also, if your home is 15-years older or more, you may want to consider redesigning and replacing your ducts to increase your total HVAC system efficiency.
Upgrade Your Insulation
If you live in a home that is 10-years old or newer, your insulation is probably okay. If your home was built more than 10-years ago, it is worth taking a look to make sure the insulation is up to current Energy Star standards. You can look at this map from Energy Star to review the current R-value recommendations for Shreveport, which is in Zone 3. If you can’t afford to replace or augment the insulation in your entire home, begin with your attic space and then move on to the exterior walls as time and budget allow.
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