How to Find and Seal Costly Drafts In Your Home

April 16, 2014

Drafts and air leaks in your home are costing you. According to the U.S Department of Energy, drafts can increase annual energy cost by 5% to 30%.

Let’s talk cash here. You spend about $2,200 a year on energy at home. If you sealed drafts in your home, you could save up to $660 every year!
 
We’ll give you all the resources you need to track down and seal those pesky drafts.

Finding drafts and leaks

The quickest way would be to hire a professional to conduct a blower door test. In this test, an energy auditor uses a large fan to suck the air out of your home, depressurizing it. Then all the air outside the home will find its way into your home through the leaks. 

The auditor then uses a smoke pen to visually see where the air is entering.  
 
But if you’re going the DIY route, you can find many leaks by checking the usual areas an air leak occurs with a lit incense candle.
 
According to the U.S Department of Energy, you should check the following areas for cracks or gaps that could cause air leaks:

  • Electrical outlets
  • Switch plates
  • Door and window frames
  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Baseboards
  • Weather stripping around doors
  • Fireplace dampers
  • Attic hatches
  • Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Where dryer vents pass through walls
  • Vents and fans

Look for leaks and drafts on a windy day with the lit incense candle. You’ll know you’ve found an air leak when the candle’s smoke travels horizontally when placed near a suspected area.

Sealing drafts and leaks

How you seal an air leak or draft depends on where it’s located. 
For drafts around movable components (windows and doors) you’ll want to apply weatherstripping.
 
Resources for weatherstripping:

For cracks or gaps that are less than a 1-quarter-inch wide in stationary components and materials, you need to apply caulk.
 
Resources for caulking:

One energy efficiency project of many

Sealing drafts will save you big time in the long run. But there are other ways to improve the energy efficiency of your home to save even more. 

Thinking about improving the overall energy efficiency of your home? Find an energy auditor near you to show you your options.
 
Did you find this article helpful? Check out Santa Fe’s other articles on home energy efficiency and indoor air quality.