TK Tips

Plugging Leaks

The low cost of saving.

The small things can take some time but one by one you can tackle them. First, have you ever notice the cold breeze across the living room floor? That’s the small leaks or gaps around the doors, windows and electrical outlets on outside walls.

To find the leaks you will need to take a windy day, wet your hands and walk around the outside walls and feel around for drafts. Make some notes on what you find searching areas such as chimney flashing, recessed lighting, sill plates, window and door frames, all ducts and flues and electrical outlets. According to Earthworks Group “Plugging them can save you up to 10% on that heating bill, and the materials will pay for themselves within a year” On average the small gaps surrounding windows, doors and other areas in the American house, taken together, are like a 9-square-foot hole in the wall. So let’s plug those leaks!

(Home Depot, Lowes, True Value, is examples of some stores that should have all of the items below)

Plug the Leaks Material List

Door sweeps ($1.99-$30) to close spaces under exterior doors, Door and window caulking ($2-$5 per roll, plus a $10 caulk gun), Weather stripping to block those drafty spots around window frames ( $3-$7.00 per 25’ roll), Outlet gaskets ($10 for 10) install inside the electrical outlet covers in a home’s outer walls, Can of spray foam ($4-$7 per 16oz can) Roll of un-faced insulation ( $10 for 40sf)

Duct, duct loose.

If your home is one that uses ductwork or Forced Hot Air (FHA) then be aware that ductwork that is disconnected, improperly insulated or leaking can lose up to 60% of heated air before it reaches the vents. So if you are a decent do-it-yourselfer? You can do an awful lot to fix your system, at low cost.

First, look for obvious places in the attic, basement or in crawlspaces where ducts have become disconnected. Reconnect them, and repair detached sections or where pipes are pinched. A pinched duct impedes flow of heated air to the house, according to the Department of Energy. Fill small leaks with high temp silicone sealant (this will work on seems as well) and wrap ductwork with insulation that has none. If using duct tape don’t use traditional duct tape this may deteriorate. So instead, use metal-backed tape.

Ductwork Materials List

Metallic backed ($6-$10 per roll) duct insulation ($8-$12 for 15 feet) High temp sealant ($5-$7 per tube)

Remember, there are local professionals that can assist you with any of these repairs that you don’t wish to tackle yourself. This may cost more but most times you will receive better results and if you hire a licensed professional all the work will be under warrantee. The cost will be substantially more but, it’s a good idea to get a professional to help insulate ducts when electrical wires or lighting fixtures are nearby. Web sites like Service Magic, E-local or Networks will help you to find a prescreened professional in your area at no cost to you.

  • Plastic over windows. Even if you have storm windows it’s a good idea to plastic over old drafty windows. This can be done for around $2 per window. Don’t cover windows that you want to have a clear view.
  • Add water savers to the faucets. A water-efficient shower head can use 25% to 50% less water, saving both on hot water and power bills, with little to no reduction in user satisfaction. Also buy them for the faucets for all the sinks in your home. (Shower head less than $20) (sink faucet $5-$7)
  • Insulate water heater and pipes. Unless you’ve got newer water heater that already has insulation built right in to it, covering your water heater with an insulation jacket will keep costs down, especially if your heater is in an      unheated place like a garage. Also, wrapping water pipes when possible, especially when they run through un-insulated areas. Water heater jacket ($17-$20) Pipe Insulation($1 per 1ft  sold in 5 ft. section)
  • Insulate Attic. Some well-placed insulation, especially in the attic of older homes, can save a bundle.insulate-your-home_8-tips-for-home-energy-conservation

Note:  Over time insulation can flatten out and this quickens the rate that heat can rise up and out of your home. ($7-$16, in rolls from 22-32 feet, depending on insulation value).

A little tip:  If you go to the attic look around for any dirty spots on the fiberglass insulation. That’s dust, and it shows where air is flowing up out of the living space. Sealing that area first will do more good than simply piling on more insulation.

  • A smart thermostat. Automatically turning the temperature on the thermostat down at night and before work will be a great help. Especially if you don’t mind programming things like the TV remote control. A “smart” thermostat can be set to change the temperature for you. Smart thermostat($50-$100).
  • Furnace maintenance. Replace the air filter according to manufacturer’s directions and your heating system will operate more efficiently. Oil-fired boilers should be cleaned and tuned annually, and gas systems, every two years. This can cost up to $200 annually. But, by maintaining your heating unit, you can save between 4% and 11% on heating bills. Don’t let a small fix can become a furnace replacement if unchecked for too many years. Air filter ($4-$16)

By following all of these strategies the average home owner or home renter can save 20% or more on heating and electric bills this year and every year they are implemented.

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