A Whole-House Energy Efficiency Strategy Should Emphasize Air Sealing

Having a whole-house energy efficiency strategy provides a road map to energy savings throughout the year. When you’re prioritizing the elements of the strategy, it’s a good idea to put air sealing at the top of the list, since air infiltration raises your energy bills. Air sealing is relatively easy, inexpensive and long lasting. 

These components tend to introduce the most air into your home through cracks, crevices or gaps:

  • The building’s envelope, or exterior shell
  • Windows
  • Exterior doors
  • Pipes, wires and cables entering your home
  • Fireplaces
  • Fans or vents
  • Ductwork

The building envelope includes the joints between your home’s basement and the wood framing that rests on it. You can also have significant air leaks in the attic from pipes, flues and vent stacks that exit the space. If your furnace flue or chimney has leaks around it, use materials that can stand up to high heat to minimize fire hazards.

What you use to seal these leaks depends on their size. Caulk is good to use for small cracks and crevices, and expanding foam works well on larger areas that have irregular shapes. Weatherstripping works well for windows and exterior doors.

Further, be sure that your fireplace flue closes tightly to prevent wind from pulling the conditioned air out through the chimney. A fireplace specialist or licensed contractor may be able help you achieve a better fit.

The condition of your home’s ductwork can cause high energy bills and should be a central part of your whole-house energy efficiency strategy. Ducts can develop leaks or become loose. When that happens, some of the air you’ve paid to condition can leak into spaces where you don’t need it, like a basement. Leaky ducts also bring contaminants into your home, some of which can be serious if your home uses gas appliances.

At Roth Heating & Cooling, we are happy to help you with your whole-house energy efficiency strategy by inspecting your HVAC system and evaluating your ducts for leaks. If you’d like to learn, please contact us at (503) 994-9924. We’ve provided HVAC services for the Portland area since 1976.