Saving Money with Insulation & Air-Sealing

A lot of homeowners are losing money every day, and it’s happening completely invisibly, thanks to air leakage. What is air leakage? Simply put, it’s when outside air comes into your house, and inside air goes outside. Depending on the season and where you are in the country, this could be warm air escaping in the winter, or cool air getting out in the summertime. Oddly enough, some people know about air leakage and don’t mind, because they think it’s a good way to provide ventilation! This is never a good idea (for a whole lot of reasons!) but the bottom line is that during cold weather too much air can get into the house, and when it’s warm, not enough air will come in (and the air quality will be poor). You should be the one in control of airflow and insulation! Air leakage also contributes to moisture problems that can affect your health and that of your family.

Too many leaks!

Monique O’Grady from the Alliance to Save Energy is back with tips to save money by insulating and air-sealing your home. She says that you need to pay special attention to what she calls your home’s “envelope,” the openings through which air can pass that include windows, doors, and even the walls themselves. You wouldn’t think of leaving a window open all the time, but if you’ve got air leakage, it’s pretty much the equivalent!

If you insulate and seal those leaks, she says, you can save about 20% on your energy bill. And another big perk, your house will be more comfortable. So everything gets better when you seal your house tightly against the elements.

You need to start with an energy-assessment tour of your house, from your attic to the cellar, looking at crawl spaces, walls, and floors. Check everything out and see where insulation might be needed.

Insulation works

If you want to reduce the noise coming from outside, if you want to keep insects out of your house, if you want to remove pollen and dust, and if you want better humidity control, these are all good reasons to insulate.

If you’re installing the insulation yourself, make sure that you apply it evenly. Generally you want to start at the top of your house, in the attic, and work your way down. Don’t skimp in the attic: it usually needs lots of insulation, because heat rises and it might be rising right out of your house!

Then it’s time to look at your windows, doors, wall cracks and outlets, as well as every gap in your home that might let outside air in—and conditioned air out—make your air conditioners and heaters work harder, consuming more energy and wasting money.

Close those gaps

Here’s the problem: by code, the framing around your chimney and flue has to be at a distance from it. It has to be one inch from metal flues, and two inches from brick or stone chimneys. That’s a big gap! Don’t worry, you can still stay within code as long as you cover those one or two-inch gaps. You can cut aluminum flashing and place it there, sealing it afterward with a specialized caulk (talk to the folks at your local hardware store about it).