This month’s edition of The Advantage is all about saving you money! North Dakota is known for our hot, humid summers and icy, cold winters. This means we run the risk of losing both our cooled and heated air to pesky leaks, which are not only uncomfortable and frustrating, but likely to cost you money as well. They cause your equipment to run more than necessary, putting more wear and tear on your HVAC unit while increasing your utility bills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, you can save as much as 10 percent annually on your energy bills (20 percent of your heating and cooling costs) by properly sealing and insulating your home.
There are measures you can take on your own to spot leakage in your home and repair it with caulk or weather-stripping.
Visual Inspection: When checking outside your home, look for gaps and cracks at the common points of air leakage, especially areas where two different building materials meet, including:
- Where the foundation and bottom of exterior brick or siding meet
- Where the siding and chimneys meet
- Outdoor water faucets
- All exterior corners
Inside your home, inspect around the following for any cracks and gaps that could cause air leaks:
- Electrical outlets
- Cable TV and phone lines
- Where dryer vents pass through walls
- Attic hatches
- Door and window frames
- Switch plates
- Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners
- Vents and fans
- Weatherstripping around doors
- Fireplace dampers
- Electrical and gas service entrances
In the winter months, it may help to locate leaks by wetting your hand to feel any cool drafts.
Smoke Test: After visual inspection, perform a smoke test to be sure you have found all tough-to-find air leaks:
- Pick a cool and windy day to conduct the test. Turn off appliances that create air disturbances, such as stoves, burning furnaces, and water heaters.
- Shut all windows, doors, and fireplace flues.
- Turn on exhaust fans that blow air outside – dryers, bathroom fans, and stove vents; or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.
- Light incense and hold it near potential points of air leakage. If smoke begins moving unsteadily back and forth, or it is drawn into or out of the room, this indicates a leak.
To guarantee the job was done right and save time, you can hire a qualified technician to conduct an energy assessment. Remember, the goal of your project is to discover all the air leaks so that you can seal them up tight, which should result in a more comfortable and energy efficient home this winter.
The best way to save money this season is to have efficiently run equipment. In order to ensure your system is up to par on all levels and spot potential money-losing HVAC units in your home, set up an appointment or give us a call at 701.775.4675.