In a time when energy cost is skyrocketing, we all want to weatherproof our home to seal in conditioned air. Many companies are marketing excellent energy saving products with high R-factors which are effective but also very expensive. It is true that these are quality products and most will perform as advertised, but are they cost effective for your home? If you have an older home, the cost of the energy sometimes is cheaper than the cost of the energy saving products.
There are many ways to skin the proverbial cat. You first need to fully understand why you are losing your valuable interior conditioned air. The HVAC air return is creating negative pressure on the interior of your home. Think of it as a great big suction pump sucking the air out of your house and it has to be replaced somehow. Ideally you want the source of the air to come from the A/C supply ducts, not from penetrations in your exterior walls. Keep in mind that air pressure moves to the source of least resistance.
With a note pad, make notes on penetrations that are allowing the interior negative air pressure to draw outside positive air pressure into your home. Start with an inspection of the exterior of your home looking for gaps or holes around electrical lines, refrigerant lines, cable and telephone lines, water faucets, gaps in brick freezes, holes in siding, etc.
Now take your note pad inside and continue by noting air spaces around windows, doors, pet doors or any other large penetrations. To aid you in finding air flows, turn your A/C or heater on and you may be able to feel drafts where air is entering your house. Under your exterior doors, a quarter inch gap can equate to a hole the size of a dinner plate. If you feel a slight breeze coming out of your electrical outlets and switches, it is hot attic air being drawn through the electrical wire feed holes. The older type can lights have large holes in the housing which can easily draw hot air from the attic.
You are fully capable of conducting an energy audit, however there are companies that specialize in this and will provide a written report suggesting tips to make your home more energy efficient. Maybe your local utilities company offers energy audit services, or can refer you to private sources for this service.
Now you need to seal as many of these exterior wall penetrations as possible as they account for approximately 15 percent of your heating and cooling dollars. At your local hardware store there are inexpensive products on the market that will help you with all of these air leak problems. Here are several types of weatherstripping that you need to become familiar with:
- Tension Seal: This is a V-shape plastic vinyl folded along length or a springy bronze strip shaped to bridge a gap. An excellent product that creates a seal by pressing against the sides of a door or window jamb to block drafts
- Felt: Sold in rolls and comes plain or reinforced with a flexible metal strip. Available with an adhesive backing, works best if stapled. Use where little use as it has a short life.
- Tape: This is a nonporous, closed-cell foam, open-cell foam, or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer rubber. Works best on top and bottom of windows, easy to install.
- Door sweep: Available in aluminum or stainless steel backing with brush of plastic, vinyl, sponge, or felt. This product is visible, can drag on carpet, easy and simple solution.
- Magnetic seal: This works similarly to refrigerator gaskets. Very effective, inexpensive, and easy to install.
- Tubular Rubber and Vinyl: These are vinyl or sponge rubber tubes with a flange along the length to staple or tack into place creating a seal when a door or window presses against them.
- Door Shoe: Aluminum strip vinyl C-shaped insert installed under the door. Excellent for shedding rain, very durable and excellent for uneven doors.
- Interlocking Metal Channels: Two channels interlocking with one another when closed. An exceptional weather seal, difficult to install as alignment has to be perfect to work properly.
- Foam sealant: This product comes in an aerosol can and it is produced by Dow Chemical, brand is “Great Stuff”. It is has a simple application, just follow the directions and it will fill those hard to get to cracks, gaps, and small holes. Hvac near me