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Energy Efficiency: 3 Easy Fixes For a Leaky Home

Your house is probably leaking way too much conditioned air out of your home and you don’t even realize it. Home improvement doesn’t come cheap; but, there are small things you can do to save you lots of money on your energy bill. We are going to focus on your heating and cooling because together, they account for well over half of your home’s energy use. Together, we can reduce your energy costs by making your home more energy efficient.

Instead of cranking up the thermostat, let’s concentrate on keeping the hot air you already have contained within your home.

Here are 3DIY projects you can do this week that will save you money every month (up to 20% off your energy bill):

Caulking:

This is the cheapest and most effective thing you can do. Tubes typically cost less than $5 and will save you tons on your energy bill.

Total cost = $35

Annual Savings = $50-$180

A great place to start is around the outside of your home where you might have air conditioning lines, wiring , or plumbing coming into your home. For small cracks and gaps (smaller than a quarter inch) around wiring or piping, use the weatherproof caulk to seal the gaps. You will need a caulk gun to dispense the caulk.

Cut the tip off of the caulking tube with a utility knife; take a nail or pin to pierce the the center of the tube (where you just cut), squeeze the trigger and caulk all of those pesky gaps.

Also look around the edges of your windows. If you have a brick house, there are probably several spots by the windows where air can flow in and out of your home.

For any exterior air leaks or gaps (greater than a quarter inch), use expanding foam spray. It is easy to use. Just shake, attach the applicator, aim into the gaps, and pull down on the trigger. The foam expands into the gap and blocks the leak.

Duct Sealing:

Air ducts take air from the conditioned space to the heating and cooling unit and distributes the heated or cooled air back to the conditioned space. There are two types of ducts: supply (pushes conditioned air out) and return (sucks up air from living space).

The air flow should be equal in both the supply and return ducts. If you have an air duct that is leaking, which you probably do, then your system is unbalanced, causing massive energy loss. In fact, all ducts leak to some extent. There are many areas where air could leak out into areas you don’t want it to go, like crawl spaces, attics, and basements. Unconditioned air is also able to leak into the air ducts, causing your system to have to work harder to cool and condition the air. An unbalanced system also depressurizes the house, causing outside air to be more easily sucked into the home.

Ironically, duct tape is a bad material to use for sealing air ducts. Instead, use duct mastic to seal all the joints and seams in the ducts. Supply ducts are often insulated, so you have to peel back the insulation to check for duct leakage. Duct Mastic is made specifically for sealing air ducts. It is soft and gooey, almost like peanut butter. It doesn’t harden or crack, so you can put it on once and it will seal you leaks forever. When you are applying the mastic, wear some old clothes that you don’t mind getting messed up. This is a one-time DIY fix; not a temporary duct tape fix. Since the duct mastic is pretty messy and fairly unsightly, for living areas with exposed ductwork, use a an aluminum foil mastic tape.

Click here for a how-to guide for sealing ductwork using mastic and foil tape.

If you want your local HVAC technician to conduct a “blower door” test, it will add to your expense, but you will get professional knowledge about where exactly your leaks are and how much air is leaking. To save yourself time and mistakes, we suggest you have this service performed. In fact, many local building codes require this “blower door” test.

If you don’t want to get dirty in your attic and basement, Universal Home Experts offers competitive pricing for duct diagnostic and sealing. Call us today at (713) 364-0226.

Insulation: Like air duct sealing, this is a potential DIY fix, but also a service that many people prefer to have their professional HVAC technician do. If you do want to tackle this project, it will cost several hundred dollars to install and take several hours. This one is not really a small project, but if you really want to save on your energy bills, you will need to insulate your home. If you do make major insulation changes, call your trusted HVAC professional to assess the ventilation balance of your system.

You do not want a home that is too tight because it could prevent your home from venting safely and properly.

Here is a how-to video that is very useful for DIY-ers.

IMPORTANT: After caulking, weatherstripping, and insulating your home, make sure that you call you trusted HVAC professional to stop by and make sure that the ventilation balance of your indoor air quality has not been upset to the point of causing a safety or health hazard for you and your family.

Universal Home Experts is your trusted source for local plumbing, electric or HVAC installation and repair in Houston and the surrounding areas. Check out our website and Facebook or Twitter for more expert advice on how to make your home more energy efficient.

Don’t forget to schedule your heating maintenance appointment before the cold weather hits. Our lines are open at (713) 364-0226. Don’t forget to ask about our other services, including Electric, Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Indoor Air Quality. Our goal is always comfort, reliability and peace of mind in your home.