Heat Loss in Winter, Heat Gain in Summer: Fix Both Now by Sealing Your Home

Published on: February 3, 2014

Do you remember your mother asking you to shut the door and stop heating the outside? She had a point, but you don’t have to leave the door wide open to lose precious heated or cooled air. When your home isn’t sealed well, you’re losing money by having hot air seep in during the steamy Southeast summers and toasty air escape on cold winter days. Stop heating and cooling the outdoors by taking these simple steps, and cut down on heat loss while cutting the cost of your energy bills.

Apply Weatherstripping to Susceptible Areas

Doors, windows and other home features that open and close are notorious for heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Check all of your doors and windows to see if there’s already weatherstripping present. If there is none, or if it’s become aged and cracked, it’s time to purchase and apply new weatherstripping. Thankfully, this is an easy fix that a homeowner can normally do on his or her own.

The type of weatherstripping to buy depends on the use and traffic of the area. For example, because of its durability, metal weatherstripping is highly recommended for doors. It can easily handle the foot traffic and regular movement of the door, something that felt and similar materials simply aren’t made for. Stationary areas are easily sealed with a high quality caulk. Just check to be sure that the type of caulk you’re purchasing will work well with the material you’re applying it to. Most poorly sealed windows are easily fixed with a good vinyl weatherstripping, though felt can be used on windows that see little use.

Home Insulation Should Be Efficient for the Southeast Climate

Many homes simply don’t have enough insulation in their walls or attic, or it’s been improperly installed. The best way to tell if this is the case is to hire a qualified technician to conduct a home energy audit. The HVAC tech will also be able to tell you what kind of insulation will best work for your home, climate and budget.

Sealing Forced Air Ductwork

Having holes, leaks and poor connections in your ducts can cause up to 20 percent of your home’s heated and cooled air to be lost. It’s not easy to determine if duct sealing is something that your home needs, but there are a few clues that you can use to determine if this procedure will help prevent heat loss in your home. If you:

  • are experiencing unusually high energy bills in the summer and winter months
  • have stuffy, hot or very cold rooms, no matter what the thermostat is set for
  • have ducts which are located in the garage, attic, or crawlspace
  • find kinked or tangled flexible ducts

Then it’s time to call a professional to check, and possibly seal, your system’s ducts.

Other Areas of Heat Loss and Heat Gain

If your weatherstripping, insulation and ducts seem to be intact and functional but you’re still experiencing drafts, the culprit may be the house itself. You would be amazed at all the little places where heat loss and heat gain occur in a home. Walking around your house and checking these areas will help to reveal places that need extra attention when it comes to sealing.

Look for cracks, holes or large openings on or around:

  • Flashing surrounding chimneys, vent pipes and skylights
  • Exterior corners (especially with siding)
  • The line where the foundation and the bottom of the home’s exterior material (brick or siding) meet
  • Outdoor water spouts
  • Missing or damaged shingles or roof tiles

Check these areas inside your home by placing your hand near the object and feeling for cold air drafts in the winter:

  • Attic door or access
  • Switch plates and electrical outlets
  • Fireplace flues
  • Door and window frames
  • Any place where a hole has been drilled to allow a line access, such as phone, gas, electric and cable lines
  • Dryer vents
  • Other vents and fans
  • Baseboards

Many of these little breeches can be fixed by the homeowner with caulk or other sealing materials. Qualified technicians are also able to conduct energy assessments, such as a blower door test, to determine if your home has significant areas of heat loss.

For more expert advice on reducing heat loss and heat gain by sealing your home against the elements, contact us today to find a certified, professional contractor in your area.