Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out in the winter wastes a lot of energy dollars. That’s why tightening up your home is the first step you should take in cutting your energy costs. Experts say a $25 investment in caulking and weatherstripping could result in hundreds of dollars of energy savings every year.

Getting Started

Repair all obvious sources of air leakage first, such as broken windows and holes where air can enter through the ceiling, walls or floor. Check anywhere building materials join and look for daylight that is visible through the cracks. After these have been properly sealed, you will be ready to tighten up other less obvious air leakage areas.

  • Keep the fireplace damper closed when the fireplace is not in use. Even when the damper is closed it is still leaking air and taking your money up the chimney. In a well- insulated home, an open damper can raise heating and cooling energy consumption by 30 percent. An inadequately sealed fireplace is one of the worst sources of air leakage in the home. According to the Department of Energy, sealing and weatherstripping the fireplace in a typical home can reduce air leakage by 14 percent or more. If you’re not using your fireplace, seal it up.

  • Lock your windows to make sure they are shut. Locking a window helps create an air-tight seal.

  • Identify and prioritize where leakage might be taking place — air leakage locations are not always obvious and easy to find. Prioritize your air sealing strategy by identifying the biggest leaks first. On a windy day, locate leaks by running your hands near those leakage sites mentioned in this chart.

  • Window pulley seals are inexpensive and easy to install. Many older double-hung windows have a rope and weight system to make it easier to raise and lower the window. The peal-and-stick pulley seal stops air leakage at this location while allowing the window to continue to function.

  • Electrical outlet cover gaskets reduce air leakage through electrical outlets. Although the savings is small (about two percent of heating and cooling costs) the cost is also low and it is an easy do-it-yourself project.

  • An attic hatch or pull-down stairway in the heated and cooled part of your home needs to be weatherstripped and insulated.

  • Rope caulk can be used to air seal many leaky areas around the home — especially windows. This inexpensive material is very easy to apply and later, if you want to open the window, it’s easy to remove. Note: always designate one window in each room as the fire escape and make sure that it is operable.

  • A foam backer rod is used to fill large or deep cracks; then this is covered and sealed with caulk.

  • Caulk the leaks in your ceiling. Typical insulation does not stop air leakage. When you’re up in the attic, look for dirty spots in the insulation. This often indicates a hole where air leaks into and out of your house. Caulk areas where air might escape from such places as ceiling light fixtures, wiring and plumbing holes in the kitchen and bath, electrical junction boxes and recessed light fixtures.

  • Seal the leaks. The best and most effective place to seal a home is on the inside. This not only prevents air movement, it also prevents moisture from accumulating in the wall and ceiling cavities.

  • Select the best product to do the job. Ask your local hardware store attendant for the best sealing product for your project. Discuss the location, surface type, size of leak, etc.

  • Window putty (glazing compound) is used to seal a loose windowpane.

  • The duct system in a typical home loses about 20 percent of the air that moves through it due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. This results in higher utility bills and an uncomfortable home. Observe the condition of your ducts; particularly how they are sealed. If uninsulated, check for gaps or air escaping at the joints. If the ducts are insulated, make sure the insulation is vapor sealed and securely taped. Consult a duct-sealing contractor and make sure that mastic or UL-approved duct sealing tape is being used (common "duct tape" does not hold up on ducts and should not be used). Also ensure that the ducts are insulated with R-5 duct insulation (Arkansas Energy Code) and carefully vapor sealed. Duct tape is not approved by State Code for duct sealing.