Homeowners in the United States spend about 21 percent of their income on energy, much of which pays for cooling and heating costs. In many cases, this large consumption of energy is due to visible air leaks, such as uninsulated attics, doors, windows, vents, and pipes. To cut utility costs and establish a healthier home, all openings should be sealed to minimize unwanted drafts inside the house. The insulation in a home will function more efficiently if the building is properly sealed. In addition, homeowners can save hundreds of dollars in annual energy costs.
Many roofing experts focus on water leakage; however, there is another kind of leakage that is almost as important and that is air infiltration. It is essential to note that there should be no air infiltration in order to maximize the performance of the entire roofing system. In order to detect this type of leak, a qualified technician should be hired to ensure an accurate and detailed assessment. One common method used to test for drafts today is the "blower door test." This is a diagnostic tool that determines air tightness by lowering the pressure inside the house. The function of this test is two-folded: to detect the air infiltration rate of the building and to assess if additional insulation is needed.
Another way of finding leaks is by checking the joint areas of the house, such as the wood siding, bricks, vents, fans, air-conditioning units and outer walls. Checking the roofing system for cracks and gaps may also be helpful.
Aside from proper insulation, the reduction of utility costs can be accomplished by means of draft sealing strategies to regulate the flow of air in and out of the house. These techniques will help to ensure that the occupants will feel more comfortable when inside the home. To improve energy efficiency, important consideration must be given to adequate insulation, moisture control and ventilation. Another important role in creating a healthier living environment is the method used to seal leaks. The most common techniques used that will bring about a positive result include caulking, weather-stripping, and barriers.
• Caulking – Caulk can be applied to any cracks, gaps, joints, and other openings to keep air from leaking out. This technique can help seal the building and provide effective weather-proofing and insulation. Caulking materials are made to last a long time and deliver a tight seal that protects the home from a wide range of weather conditions.
• Weather-stripping – This is primarily used to seal openings such as windows and exterior doors, as well as in the attic to prevent water leakage. The secondary function of weather-stripping is to keep air inside the house, saving more energy in heating and cooling systems.
• Barriers – Barriers are utilized to control drafts from coming in and out of the house. They can be mechanically attached, self-adhered, or applied with a fluid or spray. Barriers will help in blocking the movement of air through any cavities as well as controlling moisture inside the house.
If drafts are ignored, the result will be spending money on excessive utility bills. To prevent this from happening, some type of sealing method should be initiated once the leaks have been detected. Once this has been accomplished, various techniques can be used to seal exterior walls, doors, windows, attics, or any other source of leakage so that family members can be comfortable inside the home. The biggest advantage in the prevention of air leaks is lower energy bills!