Most of us assume that heating and cooling homes is the work of our HVAC system. But an HVAC system works in tandem with a home’s insulation and envelope, which include the outer walls, windows, doors and other openings. When air leaks through a home’s envelope or is compromised due to under-insulation, HVAC systems must work harder to maintain a comfortable environment. Even though you may lower your thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer if your home is under-insulated and has leaks, your HVAC system may be carrying a big load.
By sealing air leaks around your home and adding insulation, you can increase comfort, save energy and lower utility bills.
Think about this: According to ENERGY STAR, 9 out of 10 homes in the U.S. are under-insulated. That means that 90% of homeowners could be using less energy to heat and cool their homes. According to the EPA, a home that is well-sealed and has the right amount of insulation will have lower utility bills. On average, they estimate that homeowners who seal and insulate save 15% on heating and cooling costs.
How to Seal and Insulate
Sealing and insulating your home is a two-part project. First, check for and seal any leaks. When checking for leaks, you want to inspect the outer walls, windows, doors and other openings. Next, add insulation. When adding insulation, you want to check attics, floors over crawlspaces and basements.
Seal and Insulate Resources
A great place to start the hunt for leaks is with the windows in your home. Be sure to check out this project to learn How to Insulate Windows in Cold Weather.
Doors are also on the list of usual suspects for leaks and drafts. That includes all exterior doors. Check out this project to learn how to Weatherproof Your Front Door to Save Energy. There’s also a project to help you learn How to Insulate Garage Doors.
ENERGY STAR’s Rule Your Attic program is a great resource for homeowners who want to check the insulation levels in their home.
To learn more about types of insulation, check out our article on Insulation: Where, How and Why.
Keep in mind that even small projects can help increase your home’s energy efficiency, including something as simple as learning How to Change a Home Air Filter.
And before it gets too cold, be sure to check out 10 Ways to Stay Warm this Winter with Eco Actions.
More Information from ENERGY STAR
Thanks to our friends at ENERGY STAR for providing much of the research for this article. To find more information and energy savings opportunities, visit Seal and Insulate with ENERGY STAR.