House to House: Keep Cold Winter Air Where it Belongs
By Emily Morgan, Arkansas Realtors® Association
It’s that time of year, at least during the later hours of the day, when temperatures are dropping and our heating bills are rising. If you’re anything like me, you want to keep our homes warm and cozy but without spending an arm and a leg on electric or gas bills. The National Association of Realtors® consumer website, HouseLogic, found that a typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget on air leaks through unintended cracks and gaps in the home.
Every time you feel a draft flowing through your home, just remember that’s money flying out the window too. Luckily, HouseLogic has several DIY tips to keep warm air in and cold air out during the cold months we have ahead of us.
- Insulate around recessed lights. Most recessed lights have vents that open to the attic, a direct route for heated or cooled air to escape. labeled ICAT, for “insulation contact and air tight,” are already sealed; look for the label next to the bulb. If you don’t see it, assume yours leaks. An airtight baffle ($8 to $30) is a quick fix. Remove the bulb, push the baffle up into the housing, then replace the bulb.
- Close gaps around flues and chimneys. Building codes require that wood framing be kept at least 1 in. from metal flues and 2 in. from brick chimneys. That creates gaps where air can flow through. Cover the gaps with aluminum flashing ($12) cut to fit and sealed into place with high-temperature silicone caulk ($14). To keep insulation away from the hot flue pipe, form a barrier by wrapping a cylinder of flashing around the flue, leaving a 1-inch space in between. To maintain the spacing, cut and bend a series of inch-deep tabs in the cylinder’s top and bottom edges.
- Weatherstrip the attic access door. A ¼ in. gap around pull down attic stairs or an attic hatch lets through the same amount of air as a bedroom’s heating duct. Seal it by caulking between the stair frame and the rough opening, or by installing foam weatherstripping around the perimeter of the hatch opening.
- Tighten up around windows and doors. In the main living areas of your home, the most significant drafts tend to occur around windows and doors. If you have old windows, caulking and adding new weatherstripping goes a long way toward tightening them up.. Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber ($8 for 10 feet) is rated to last at least 10 years. Nifty gadgets called pulley seals ($9 a pair) block air from streaming though the holes where cords disappear into the frames. Weatherstripping also works wonders on doors. If a draft comes in at the bottom, install a new door sweep ($9).
For more DIY tips on how to seal air leaks around your home, visit www.houselogic.com.
Visit HouseLogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic.com with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.
House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas REALTORS® Association. For more information on homeownership in Arkansas, readers may visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.